June 9, 2017
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
EUGENE, Ore. - Wil London's race in Friday's 400-meter finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships looked more like a challenging obstacle course.
Not only was the Baylor sophomore running out of Lane 1, London had to maneuver through standing water on the final curve and then had a brutal headwind coming down the home stretch as he finished eighth in a time of 45.72.
"I tried to get out a little bit faster than I normally do, just to try to be in the race from the beginning," London said, "so I wouldn't have to kick it too bad. Unfortunately, it was a little windy over there on the 200. But, I'm still healthy and I live to run another day, so I can't complain."
A product of crosstown Waco High School, London gave Baylor its only point at the NCAA meet and the 25th All-American honor in the 400 meters, the last one coming in 2008 when LeJerald Betters finished third.
"Getting to the final, that's the main goal, to make it to the next round," said London, who was also eighth at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships. "And that's what I accomplished. All I had to do was try to take care of business in the final. Unfortunately, it didn't happen the way I planned it to go. I'm just blessed to be in the final and get ready for the (USA Trials for the World Championships)."
Baylor tied for 74th in the meet and scored for the 39th time in the last 40 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
After reaching the semifinals of last year's USA Olympic Trials, London said he will "be a little calmer" for the USATF Outdoor Championships June 22-25 in Sacramento, Calif.
"I'm not trying to look forward to next year. I have two weeks ahead of me to get ready (for the USATF Championships)," he said. "I'll focus on that and then get ready for next year."
Senior triple jumper Felix Obi was poised to put some more points on the board when he moved up to eighth with a mark of 54-4 ½ on the second of three preliminary jumps. But, he fell to ninth by the end of the second round and all the way to 14th when he didn't improve on his third attempt and missed the final.
"I don't pay attention to the rankings anymore," Obi said. "I just try to focus on myself. I know if I execute my phases correctly, it will be a jump worthy of being in the finals. That last jump, I was really going for it, but I rotated a little bit."
When he didn't get his foot down correctly, London said, "it caused my torso to kind of like lean over my leg rather than staying up tall with my jump. That forces your momentum kind of downward, and it's hard to recover off that and stay tall."
Baylor senior Jenna Pfeiffer was 14th after the first two events of the heptathlon, going 14.78 in the 100-meter hurdles and 5-5 ¼ in the high jump. But, marks of 37-1 in the high jump and 27.21 in the 200 meters dropped her to 20th in the field of 24 athletes.
The seven-event competition wraps up with the long jump at 1:30 p.m. CDT Saturday, the javelin throw at 2:45 and the 80 meters at 7:13. Georgia's Kendell Williams leads the field with 3,743 points through the first four events, followed by Arkansas' trio of Payton Stumbaugh (3,552), Taliyah Brooks (3,509) and Leigha Brown (3,489).
Well off her record-setting pace at the Big 12 Championships, Pfeiffer trails eighth-place Jaclyn Siefring of Akron by 324 points for potential All-America honors.
Other than Pfeiffer, Baylor will have seniors Brianna Richardson and Rachel Toliver in the field for the women's triple jump that begins at 5:40 p.m. CDT Saturday on the final day of the meet at historic Hayward Field.
The Baylor women are tied for 14th in the team scoring with the six points Annie Rhodes earned from a third-place finish in Thursday's pole vault competition.
EUGENE, Ore. - Baylor track and field sophomore Wil London finished eighth in the 400-meter final with a time of 45.72 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships Friday at Hayward Field.
Running out of lane one, London got out to a fast start, but had to battle a strong headwind and a puddle of water as he ran the final curve. That disadvantage left the sophomore Bear near the back of the pack heading into the homestretch and he was unable to overtake any runners over the final 80 meters. London earned the second All-American honor of his career, after also finishing eighth at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships in the 400 meters. The Waco, Texas, product, gives Baylor its 25th All-American accolade in the 400 meters in program history and the first since 2008.
With London's eighth-place finish in the 400 meters, Baylor tallied one point in the team race to conclude the NCAA Outdoor Championships tied for 74th. BU has now scored at the national outdoor meet in 39 of the last 40 years.
In the triple jump, senior Felix Obi placed 14th with a best attempt of 51-4.5 [15.66m]. After opening with a mark of 49-9 [15.16m], the El Paso, Texas, native sat in 15th after one round of jumps. He then produced what ended up being his best jump on his second attempt to move in to eighth, but by the time of his third attempt Obi had been bumped down to 13th. On his final jump, Obi was unable to improve.
Senior Jenna Pfeiffer also began action in the heptathlon competition Friday.
To open her day, Pfeiffer ran a 14.78 to earn 871 points in the 100-meter hurdles, which placed her 22nd after the first event. In the high jump, Pfeiffer breezed through the first four bars without a miss, but was unable to get over 5-6.5 [1.69m]. She finished with a top clearance of 5-5.25 [1.66m] to earn 806 points and move up to 14th overall with 1,677 points.
Pfeiffer notched her top throw in the shot put event on her first attempt, 37-1 [11.30m], to garner 615 points, which dropped her back to 17th with 2,292 points. In the final event of day one, she produced a mark of 27.21 in the 200 meters to secure 694 points.
Through four of seven events in the heptathlon, Pfeiffer has totaled 2,986 points, which is 20th among the 24 athletes.
TOP QUOTE #1
"Getting to the final, that's the main goal. And that's what I accomplished. All I had to do was try to take care of business in the final. Unfortunately, it didn't happen the way I planned it to go. I'm just blessed to be in the final." - sophomore Wil London on his race
On Saturday, Jenna Pfeiffer will take part in the final three events of the heptathlon starting at 11:30 a.m. (1:30 p.m. CT) with the long jump. Meanwhile, seniors Brianna Richardson and Rachel Toliver will compete in the triple jump competition starting at 3:40 p.m. (5:40 p.m. CT).
To stay current on all things Baylor Track, follow the team on Twitter: @BaylorTrack.
COMPLETE BAYLOR RESULTS
400 Meters Final
8. Wil London (SO) - 45.72 (first outdoor All-American honor)
14. Felix Obi (SR) - 51-4.5 [15.66m]
Heptathlon #1 - 100 Hurdles
22. Jenna Pfeiffer (SR) - 14.78
Heptathlon #2 - High Jump
9. Jenna Pfeiffer (SR) - 5-5.25 [1.66m]
Heptathlon #3 - Shot Put
17. Jenna Pfeiffer (SR) - 37-1 [11.30m]
Heptathlon #4 - 200 Meters
20. Jenna Pfeiffer (SR) - 27.21
Heptathlon Ranking (Through Four Events)
20. Jenna Pfeiffer (SR) - 2,986 pts.