Theisen smashes Pac-12 heptathlon record

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EUGENE, Ore. – Brianne Theisen broke the Pac-12 record in the heptathlon with the third-best score in NCAA history to lead Oregon at the Pac-12 combined events championships Sunday at Hayward Field. Dakotah Keys followed that later with a win for the Ducks in the decathlon.

“Brianne did a fantastic job and I am so excited for her,” said Oregon Associate Athletic Director. “It was a great performance and a great way for the women to start off the Pac-12 Championships.

“This Pac-12 meet will be a very close meet. These guys showed what Oregon track is all about today. We are a team that will fight and scrape for every last point.”

On a sunny, but breezy afternoon in TrackTown USA, Theisen rolled to victory with 6,353 points, which placed the senior from Humboldt, Sask., among some extremely elite company. Arizona State’s Keia Pinnick was second with 5,703 points.

“It was awesome,” said Theisen, who became just the fourth woman to win three conference heptathlon titles. “I couldn’t think of a better way to do my last meet as a Duck at Hayward. I am on top of the world right now.

“I woke up and felt great today. I just relaxed and it was fun. Yesterday was not fun, today was. I had a great time.”

Her score broke the Pac-12 meet record of 6,307 points by Jaqueline Johnson of Arizona State in 2008. Theisen also moved into third in NCAA history, as only Diane Guthrie-Gresham of George Mason (6,527) and Jackie Joyner-Kersee of UCLA (6,390) have scored more in a collegiate heptathlon (Joyner-Kersee’s 1983 mark predated the Pac-10 championships for women, thus the conference record set Sunday).

Theisen’s remarkable day began in the long jump, where she set an all-conditions personal best of 20-5.75/6.24m on her second attempt. That moved her into UO’s top-10 in the long jump at No. 6 – her 14th different top-10 listing at Oregon.

She neared her PR in the javelin with a throw of 145-4/44.29m on her second attempt, and she also just missed a PR in the 800, finishing second in 2:12.99.

Not only did she move up the collegiate ranks, Theisen’s score was the second-highest in Canadian history and leads the world so far in 2012. Most importantly for her chances to make Team Canada this summer, she easily met the Olympic “A” standard of 6,150 points.

“Even when I have a good heptathlon, I usually don’t enjoy it for more than 30 minutes,” said Theisen. “But I think I will enjoy this one at least until the Olympic Trials.”

Theisen joined Johnson, Stanford’s Tracye Lawyer and Washington State’s Ellannee Richardson as three-time conference heptathlon champions.

Colorado took the women’s first weekend lead with 11 points. Theisen gave the Ducks 10 points in the team standings, with ASU third with eight.

In the decathlon, Keys and UCLA’s Marcus Nilsson waged a back-and-forth battle early before Keys pulled away to win his first Pac-12 decathlon title with 7,793 points.

“It all came together and ended up working out,” said Keys. “Marcus (Nilsson) was ahead but I stayed cool throughout the pole vault and kept going and it worked out.

“I can’t really believe it yet, but it’s what I was hoping for. It hasn’t soaked in yet but I am very excited.

Keys opened day two by running 14.88 in the 110 meter hurdles. Nilsson then slipped into the lead by winning the discus with a throw of 139-7/42.54m. Keys set a personal best in the event with a throw of 121-1/36.92m to stay close.

Keys then retook the lead for good in the pole vault by tying his decathlon best with a clearance at 15-9/4.80m. He put a lock on the meet with a big throw in the javelin of 207-11/63.38m. That was just off his personal best, but was good enough to build an insurmountable 300-point lead.

The Sweet Home, Ore., native closed the long day two with a personal-best in the 1,500 of 4:33.84 to give Oregon its eighth decathlon title in the last 12 years. Nilsson was second with 7,539 points.

Keys moved up to No. 6 on the 2012 NCAA charts, and seventh on the UO career list.

Alec Fellows had a big second day on the track to finish eighth with 6,815 points.

The freshman from Woodway, Wash., began the day with a decathlon-best 14.90 in the 110 meter hurdles. He then set a personal-best in the discus with a throw of 114-11/35.03m.

He matched his decathlon personal-best in the pole vault with a clearance at 13-9.25/4.20m and was just shy of his javelin PR with a throw of 127-9/38.94m, as well as his 1,500 PR, timing 4:34.63.

UCLA took the first weekend men’s lead with 15 points, followed by Oregon with 11 and ASU with eight.

The Pac-12 Championships continue Saturday and Sunday at Historic Hayward Field.

NCAA Heptathlon Top 10

1. 6,527 Diane Guthrie‐Gresham, George Mason, 1995
2. 6,390 Jackie Joyner-Kersee, UCLA, 1983
3. 6,353 Brianne Theisen, Oregon, 2012
4. 6,307 Jacquelyn Johnson, Arizona State, 2008
5. 6,211 Tiffany Lott, Brigham Young, 1997
6. 6,205 Diana Pickler, Washington State, 2007
7. 6,150w Austra Skujyte, Kansas State, 2001
8. 6,142 Anu Kaliurand, Brigham Young, 1992
9. 6,132 Gea Johnson, Arizona State, 1990
10. 6,068 Jolanda Jones, Houston, 1987