Mihaljevic Wins NCAA Outdoor Shot Put Title
June 9, 2016
EUGENE, Ore.-Virginia junior Filip Mihaljevic captured the NCAA title in the shot put as the No. 6 Virginia men’s track and field team finished action on the first day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships Wednesday (June 8) at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
After the first day, the Cavaliers are in a six-way tie for fourth place with 10 points. Oregon leads with 19 and is followed by Arkansas (16) and Purdue (11).
In winning the shot put, Mihaljevic (Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina) became the first Cavalier to win an NCAA championship in a field event. He becomes the fourth Cavalier to win an NCAA title overall, joining Paul Ereng (800m – 1989 indoors and 1988 and 1989 outdoors), Robby Andrews (800m ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” 2010 indoors and 2011 outdoors) and junior Henry Wynne (mile ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” 2016 indoors).
Mihaljevic won the shot put with a UVA outdoor record throw of 20.71m (67′ 11.5″) on his fourth attempt. That further broke his school outdoor record of 20.31m (66′ 7.75″), which he achieved on his third attempt. Chukwuebuka Enekwechi of Purdue was second with a throw of 20.37m (66′ 10″) on his sixth and final attempt.
“It is a really amazing feeling right now, all of the hard work has paid off and I’m really happy,” Mihaljevic said. “I’m truly honored to be the first UVA student-athlete to win an NCAA field event title. We have been working hard all year long and Coach (Kemal) Mesic has done a great job preparing us for the big meets and I threw the farthest when it mattered the most.”
“It is a great day to be a Virginia Cavalier,” UVA throws coach Kemal Mesic said. “We worked these last couple of months for this meet. We wanted to peak for this day and we accomplished it. He won the NCAA title with a new school record and a new outdoor personal best and it is also great that he is first field athlete to win an NCAA title for Virginia.”
Also, in the shot put, redshirt freshman Oghenakpobo Efekoro (Brooklyn, N.Y.) finished 11th with a mark of 18.82m (61′ 9″)
Wynne (Westport, Conn.) won his semifinal of the 1,500m in a time of 3:40.62 to qualify for the finals on Friday (June 10). Wynne and Washington’s Izaic Yorks traded the top two spots during the race before Wynne went around Yorks on the outside in the last 200 meters to win the semifinal. The race was much quicker than the first heat, which was won by Clayton Murphy of Akron in 3:49.03. The top five finishers of each semifinal plus the next two fastest times advanced to the final.
“That is how I have been racing the 1,500 all year,” Wynne said on the pace of the race. “We knew the pace of the first heat was pretty slow, so we wanted to get seven runners from our race into the final and we were able to do that. The pace was lagging a little in the beginning, so I decided to take over (the lead). Izaic (Yorks) then helped me out by taking the lead for a little and then I went around him towards the end of the race.”
“Today is a very tough day mentally for any athlete,” UVA distance coach Pete Watson said. “If you are going to win an NCAA title, you have to survive each round. Henry survived a very tough section and looked good doing it. Now it’s on to the final.”
In the 3,000m steeplechase semifinals, graduate student William Gray (Birmingham, England) finished 18th overall in a time of 8:51.91.
The national meet continues Thursday (June 9) with junior Cleo Boyd representing the Cavalier women’s team in the final of the 10,000 meters at 10:08 p.m. Eastern.