Day one of the 2011 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships was a difficult one for Pac-10 rivals Stanford and Oregon, both of whom had high expectations for the day’s races.
Stanford had high hopes for junior Elliott Heath in the 5000 meters, who was seen as a primary challenger to pre-race favorite Sam Chelenga. Heath ended up having a difficult day and was unable to hang with the front pack, falling back to fifth place in a time of 13:34.54. Chris Derrick progressed on his road back from injury with an eighth place finish while Miles Unterreiner was 15th. Oregon’s Luke Puskedra was 14th, finishing in 14:02.26. The race was won by Iona’s Leonard Korir, who outkicked Chelenga in 13:26.01, a NCAA meet record.
Oregon failed to advance both of their runners in the 800 meter and mile preliminary heats. Elijah Greer entered the competition as the top-seeded 800 runner but looked flat in his race and was far from qualifying for Saturday’s final, placing last in a time of 1:54.48. Mac Fleet also did not advance out of heat two of the mile as he struggled far behind the contenders.
The DMR also proved to be a disappointing event for both teams. Oregon came into the meet as the nation’s top ranked team. The Ducks trailed the leaders by only one second leading up to the final 1600 meter leg, but anchor Matt Centrowitz lost his shoe and was out of contention once he stopped and put it back on. The Cardinal did not anchor with Elliott Heath and instead put their hopes on J.T. Sullivan, typically the 1200 meter leg. Despite an excellent 400 meter run by Amaechi Morton, the squad made up of back-ups finished eighth.