ASU track produces 3 All-Americans at NCAAs
DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Arizona State men got on the scoreboard and the ASU women added another All-American as the Sun Devils' track and field teams finished up the third day of competition at the NCAA championships Friday.
ASU's first men’s points of the weekend came from perhaps the most unlikeliest of sources, as sophomore Derick Hinch took third in the pole vault, matching his career best with a clearance of 5.50m (18-00.50).
Hinch, who needed a jump-off just to earn the 12th and final NCAA qualifying spot at the NCAA West Prelims, struggled at his opening height of 5.15m (16-10.75) and needed a third-attempt clearance just to avoid a no-height result in the competition. Hinch found that jump, though, and proceeded to heat up from there.
Hinch would post second-attempt clearances of 5.30m (17-04.50), 5.40m (17-08.50) and 5.50m as the competition around him continued to dwindle. A series of misses and passes from the few remaining at the 5.50m handed Hinch the third-place finish and the first All-America honor of his career.
The finish gave ASU its first All-American in the pole vault since 1994, a remarkable feat for the junior-college transfer out of Cuesta (Calif.) that might earn the sophomore a few more votes in the Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year competition.
On the women's side, junior Keia Pinnick earned the first USTFCCCA first-team All-America honor of her career on Friday, posting a fifth-place finish in the women’s pentathlon.
Pinnick opened the day with a leap of 5.91m (19-04.75) in the long jump to improve from eighth to sixth in the competition before a throw of 33.33m (109-04) in the javelin dropped her back to eighth heading into the final event.
In the 800-meter run, however, Pinnick dominated the field en route to a time of 2:09.29, scoring 975 points in the process to jump up to fifth place for a career-best finish at an NCAA championship meet. The 800-meter time was just off the NCAA heptathlon record and broke her own school heptathlon record in the event.
Senior Chris Benard finished out his ASU career Friday with a first-team All-America honor in the triple jump, overcoming a rough start to hit 16.36m (53-08.25) and take seventh overall.
The heartbreak of the day came in the men’s hammer throw. Junior Jordan Clarke launched his third throw of the preliminary round 63.67m (208-10) to move into eighth place, with only the top nine advancing to finals, but two late throws by his competition bumped him down to 10th, however, eliminating him from the event. Clarke did, however, earn second-team All-America accolades with the finish.
Anna Jelmini was ASU's final competitor Friday, taking 18th place in the women’s shot put with a mark of 15.94m (52-03.75) to earn All-America honorable mention.
The ASU women head into the final day of competition in 11th place with 13 points but have no more athletes participating. The men are currently in 26th place with eight points and have one competitor remaining, as Clarke will seek to defend his NCAA title in the shot put.