Tara Davis takes women’s long jump title at NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships

10 Jun By
Tara Davis celebrates — Texas-style — after winning the long jump during the 2021 Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon (photo by Jamie Schwaberow / NCAA Photos via Getty Images).

EUGENE, Oregon — Tara Davis won the national championship in the long jump to lead the Texas women's track and field team to seventh place in the standings on the second day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field.

Following the first day of women's competition, Georgia leads the field with 20 points, and Oregon, the host, is in second with 14 points. Arkansas, North Dakota State and Ohio State finished the afternoon in a three-way tie for third, with 13 points apiece. Arizona State, with 12 points, is just ahead of the Longhorns, who have 10 — all from Davis.

In her signature event, the the national collegiate record holder in the long jump leapt 6.70 meters to best in-state rival Tyra Gittens of Texas A&M and claim the NCAA crown in the event. Her victory makes Davis the first Longhorn to ever to win an NCAA title in the event.

Tara Davis is the first Texas Longhorn to win an NCAA title in the women's long jump (video courtesy of Texas Athletics).

Davis earned a hint of revenge Thursday after losing to Gittens by three-and-a-half inches at the NCAA West Prelim May 27. With her 2021 outdoor collegiate season completed, the second-place finish was the only time during the outdoor campaign in which Davis failed to take the top spot in the long jump.

Her performance in Eugene completed a sweep of the 2021 indoor and outdoor national titles; she enters the Olympic Trials with the top mark in the United States this year.

In the running events, all but one of which were preliminary races, Texas faced stiff competition.

That was no more evident than in the 200-meter dash, which featured five runners ranked among the top 10 in the world. Texas had three representatives in the preliminary heats, each of whom sprinted to a time under 23.17 seconds, though only freshman Kevona Davis clinched a spot in the final.

Davis, who crossed the line in exactly 23 seconds, placed third in her heat, and was the eighth qualifier for Saturday's final, with teammates Kynnedy Flannel and Rhasadat Adeleke coming in 10th and 11th, respectively, in the overall results. Adeleke, who ran in the same heat as Davis and crossed the line fourth, ran a time of 23.16 seconds, just two-tenths of a second off her personal best.

Flannel got off a solid start in the third heat, and entered the final 100 meters in competition for second place, with an automatic qualifying spot on the line. But she lost momentum on the final 30 meters, dropping from third to fifth, passed by Miami's Alfreda Steele and UNLV's Cassondra Hall, and finished in a time of 23.15 seconds.

Saturday Wear Burnt Orange

While the women's events were the main focus of the day, the second half of the men's decathlon wrapped up. Texas' Leo Neugebauer finished fourth overall to claim five points for the Horns. With his performance, the Texas men moved into second place in the men's team standings, with national favorite LSU in the lead with 24 points.

Neugebauer, the 2021 Big 12 Champion in the event, opened his day by clocking a time of 15.14 seconds to finish 15th in the 110-meter hurdles. He bounced back, however, posting the No. 2 mark in the discus with a throw of 47.77 meters, bringing his point total to 5,762.

He followed that with a No. 4 finish in the pole vault, clearing 4.71 meters, and added 503 points on a javelin throw of 44.16 meters.

In the 1,500-meter contest, the final event of the decathlon, struggled to keep position in the 18-man pack, clocking slower times on each 400-meter split. He crossed the line in 14th place with a time of 4:51.45, which was actually a season-best for the freshman.

He tallied 610 points in the 1,500 meters to finish with a score of 7,697, just 97 points off the personal best he set at the Big 12 Championships.

In relay action, the Texas 4-by-100 quartet sealed its position in the final, crossing the line in 43.52 seconds to place seventh. The Horns ran in perhaps the most competitive heat, with title favorites USC and LSU sprinting away for the one-two finish in the Section 3 semifinal.

The 4-by-400-meter relay also clinched a spot for the Horns in the final. UT placed second in the first heat, clocking a time of 3:31.09 to finish sixth overall in a very tight field; the final four qualifiers were separated by 1.60 seconds.

Competition resumes Friday, with the finals in the men's running events, as well as the first half of the heptathlon. The action can be seen live on the ESPN Family of Networks and WatchESPN.com.

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley