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Dendy Keeps Gators in Contention Through NCAA Meet First Day
By Steve Ritchie - Special to the Statesman Journal
June 10, 2015

Marquis Dendy
EUGENE - Florida senior Marquis Dendy fought off a stiff challenge from Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas in the men’s long jump and went on to win his sixth NCAA title in the horizontal jumps at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday.

Dendy, the latest in a long line of excellent Gator long and triple jumpers, took the lead with a 26-3 mark on his first jump of the competition, only to see Lawson surpass it on his second attempt with a jump of 27-0 ½.

His response was immediate: a huge, though slightly wind-aided jump of 27-8, an all-time best for Dendy, though it won’t count as such due to the favorable tailwind. On their last three jumps, the pair continued to go for it, with Dendy hitting a wind-legal 27-4 ½ on his fifth attempt, and Lawson matching that distance on his final attempt.

Historic Hayward Field, University of Oregon

Dendy said he was hoping to surpass 28 feet and break the NCAA meet record of 28-0, set in 1993 by Erick Walder of Arkansas. He didn’t quite make it, but said he was looking forward to having a crack at the all-time collegiate mark, also held by Walder, at the US Nationals in two weeks.

“Any time when me and Jarrion step on the track it is going to be a fabulous show” Dendy said. “I have so much respect for that guy he is going to do some great things. I was really close (to Walder’s record), but no tomato so I definitely want to jump 28 feet at USA’s.”

Dendy’s win capped a strong day for Florida, which is generally considered to be Oregon’s strongest challenger. The Gators lost projected points when Ryan Schnulle did not qualify for the 800 finals, but made up for that when steeplechaser Mark Parrish unexpectedly made it into Friday’s final. Stipe Zunic took third as projected in the men’s shot, and the Gator’s relay teams and sprinters looked good in qualifying for Friday’s finals.

The same cannot be said for Texas A&M and LSU, who were also considered to be title contenders. The Aggies appear to be a long shot now, after dropping 14 points on the form chart. Projected scorers Shavez Hart and Bralon Tapin both failed to qualify for the finals, and they fell short of forecasted points in both the javelin and the pole vault.

LSU’s losses were less severe, but high hurdler Jordan Moore did not make it to finals after finishing fifth in the very fast first heat of that event, though teammate Joshua Thompson did make it through.

The 1500 meter preliminaries whetted the Hayward fans’ interest in the finals on Friday evening. With three Ducks in the final, the event could be critical to Oregon’s chances for the men’s title.

Edward Cheserek

Cristian Soratos, Montana State senior, appears to be the surprise favorite in that event. Soratos took on Oregon’s Edward Cheserek in the indoor mile final back in March, and gave Cheserek all he could handle by throwing in a 53.36 second 400 in the middle of the race. Cheserek did win that race with his always-lethal kick, but Soratos earned respect from his peers and distance fans for his gutsy race.

Soratos, a Mexican-American who grew up in Salinas, California, was not recruited out of high school and has never made it to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Last season he made it to the regional qualifying, but finished two spots out of a berth in the championships. But, on Wednesday, a college senior running his first race here, he lived up to his reputation as a gritty runner willing to push the pace even in a qualifying round. After a quick first lap, he took over with a 56 second split for the second lap.

“The first lap was pretty honest at 60 (seconds),” Soratos said. “Looking at the heat before (mine) there was a good chance we could get a couple of people in the final on time, me being one of them if it went out fast and from there I made it my priority to make it fast. Trials are always a little more nerve wracking for me because you always have doubt in your head, what if something happens and I don’t make it to finals. So I decided to take over and dictate the pace and make sure I made it to finals.”

He did just make it through as a time qualifier, but said he knew the race was fast and that more than five runners would qualify for the final. Soratos said he is confident about his chances in Friday’s final, and is prepared for any type of race, though he would prefer a fast pace.

“You have to be really prepared for anything (in the finals). It can be very physical racing as you saw in the first heat. That’s all going to depend on what me and my coach decide to do in the race. If it does come down to a kick I think I can win. And if I have to push early in the race I think I can win that way . . . I kind of like (setting the pace). It gets the crowd excited. It’s a little bit different. I kind of don’t like how sprinting has become a jog and sprint fest – it’s not really what distance running is to me. To me it’s who can run as hard as they can for as long as they can and really push their limits. That’s what I try to do out there.”


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