Tigers Head to NCAA Final Round

<i>Senior Nick Adcock enters the final round as the nation's No. 2 decathlete.</i>

Senior Nick Adcock enters the final round as the nation's No. 2 decathlete.

June 6, 2010

NCAA Championship Central | Start Lists

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Four members of the Mizzou track and field program are headed to the Final Round of the NCAA Championships, which will be held from June 9-12 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The four Tigers making the trip are Nick Adcock (Kansas City, Mo.), Lars Rise (Trondheim, Norway), Aaron Dixon (Lee's Summit, Mo.) and Blake Irwin (Bettendorf, Iowa). Both Adcock and Rise will participate in the men's decathlon while Dixon and Irwin will run in the 800m run. Live results and a live blog of the meet will all be available at MUTigers.com.

Previewing the Decathlon
Heading into the decathlon at the final round of the championships, the field will be one of the strongest collections of decathletes in the world this season at any one track meet. Only two athletes in the field - Oregon's Ashton Eaton and Mizzou's Adcock - have eclipsed 7,700 points this season, but the field is comprised of close to 10 decathletes that could break that barrier in Eugene. Mizzou's Rise is right on the cusp of 7,700 points this season as his best mark of 2010 is 7,695, which he earned while finishing as the Big 12's runner-up at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in May. He has also hit the 7,700-point barrier in his career as he boasts a personal-best score of 7,776.

Adcock and Rise enter the 2010 NCAA Championships as the nation's No. 2 and No. 3 decathletes, respectively. Adcock's score of 7,704 at the Big 12 Championships earned him the event title as he became the only athlete in Big 12 history to sweep the indoor heptathlon and outdoor decathlon titles in the same season. Adcock and Rise competed in two decathlons during the regular season and the pair finished 1-2 on both occasions.



The field at the NCAA Championships features some of the world's best decathletes, including Oregon's Eaton, who currently holds the top NCAA mark of 8,310 points. During the indoor season, Eaton won his fourth NCAA Championship while setting a world record in the heptathlon with 6,499 points. He has claimed two decathlon and two heptathlon NCAA titles in his career and will look to close his accolade-filled career with another title at his home track this week.

Some other decathletes to keep an eye on this weekend are Moritz Cleve of Kansas State who won the Big 12 title last season with a meet record 8,004 points. North Carolina's Mateo Sossah is also an athlete to watch in the competition. Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon and Akron are the only four schools to have two decathletes in the field of 24 while Missouri is the only school to have two decathletes rank in the top 10, let alone the top three.

Rise and Adcock are two of only three decathletes to break the coveted 7,700-point barrier in Mizzou history - the other is former Olympian Hans Uldal, who still holds the school record at 8,018 points. Rise's mark of 7,776 ranks second while Adcock's season-best mark of 7,704 ranks third overall in the storied history of Mizzou decathletes. Also of note is the heavy tradition of Norwegian decathletes that Mizzou has had under the direction of head coach Rick McGuire. In fact, five of the school's top 10 marks in the event are held by Norwegian athletes. Dating back to the days of Espen Strindeberg, Bjorn Sommerfeldt, Knut Sommerfeldt and Uldal, Rise continues the tradition of great Norwegians this year.

The decathlon will begin on June 10 and conclude on June 11th.

Previewing the Men's 800m Run
There are few events that have has as storied of a history at Mizzou as the 800m run. Dating back to the days of Scott Davis and Scott Clark in the early 1980s to Derrick Peterson in the late 1990s, Mizzou has certainly seen its fair share of success in the event. Peterson was an Olympian at 800 meters and is still the Mizzou record holder (indoor and outdoor) in the event along with the American collegiate Indoor record holder with his time of 1:45.88 in 1999. He also swept the Big 12 indoor and outdoor titles during his four years at Mizzou as he is an eight-time Big 12 Champion and was twice an NCAA Champion.

So it comes as no surprise that Peterson, now an assistant coach was the first to congratulate Dixon and Irwin on advancing to the NCAA Championships in the event that he saw so much success in during his four seasons. In fact, at the NCAA First Round, both Dixon and Irwin crept closer to Peterson's school record as they ran the program's fifth- and seventh-best times, respectively, at 1:47.39 and 1:47.53. Now that the two rank in the all-time Mizzou top 10, six of the program's top 10 800m run times have clocked since 2000, showing that the tradition of great 800m runners is alive and well at Mizzou. In all, Mizzou has had 16 All-Americans in the 800m run and both Dixon and Irwin will look to add their names to that list this week.

Dixon owns the No. 12 seed overall at 1:47.39, just ahead of Irwin who comes in as the No. 14 seed at 1:47.53. Dixon's time is the fastest run by a Tiger this season and the fifth-best in school history. Needing to finish in the top three in his heat or have one of next three best times at the NCAA First Round last weekend, Dixon found himself in the fastest of the three heats. After running the majority of the 600 meters in about sixth place, Dixon kicked in the last 200 meters to nearly finish third as he finished just 0.01 second behind Baylor's Chris Gowell in the heat. Despite lunging forward at the finish line he fell just shy of earning an automatic spot, but the heat was so fast that his time ranked as the best among the non-automatic qualifiers, advancing him to the NCAA Final Round.

Irwin was equally as impressive in his heat, which was not quite as fast as Dixon's, but still very fast. Irwin earned one of the three automatic spots after clocking in at 1:47.53. He also claimed the 2010 Big 12 Outdoor title in the event - becoming the first Tiger to claim the Big 12 title since Peterson did back in 2000; he clocked a time of 1:48.40 in that race.

Among the favorites at 800m will be Aaron Evans of Georgia, who currently owns the No. 1 seed headed into the finals at 1:46.26. Richard Jones of LSU and Oregon's Andrew Wheating will also figure into the mix. Looking down the list, the top 15 runners that are seeded in the race are within 1.30 seconds while the entire 24-man field is separated by just 2.58 seconds, making the men's 800m a wide open race heading into the final round.

The NCAA Second Round will begin June 9 and both Dixon and Irwin will run that day in hopes of qualifying for the 800m finals, which will be held June 11.

Familiar with Oregon
The four Mizzou athletes that will make the trip west this week are very familiar with Eugene and Hayward Field as each of the four competed in the Oregon Pepsi Challenge back in April. Dixon had the best overall performance of the four Tigers at the meet as he finished second in the men's 800m run after clocking in at 1:50.11, which at the time was the best by any Tiger in 2010. Irwin also ran in that race and was paced at 1:52.38 to earn 10th overall.

Adcock also had an impressive day at the meet as he placed second in the men's 110m hurdles with a time of 14.13, finishing behind only Eaton of Oregon in the event. He also ran the second leg of the Tigers' 4x400m relay team that finished fifth and he cleared 1.93m (6-4) in the high jump to earn sixth overall. Rise competed in the 110m hurdles at the event, placing seventh with a time of 15.09. Both Rise and Adcock used the event as a tune-up for the following week's Mt. SAC Combined events where they finished 1-2 in the event, respectively. Adcock also competed in the USA Championships which were held in Eugene back in 2009.

One Final Hurrah
Although he has stated that he does not want to 2010 to be a "season of lasts," it is hard to ignore that the NCAA Final Round will be the final collegiate track meet as a head coach for McGuire. It is fitting that in his last meet, the decathlon will likely be one of the Tigers' high points at the meet. After establishing himself as one of the nation's top combined event coaches, having Adcock and Rise seeded second and third nationally in his final meet is a perfect indicator of McGuire's 27 years of coaching at Mizzou.

McGuire will coach the team through the USATF Championships this season before founding a one-of-a-kind sports psychology program at Missouri next season. In all, McGuire has coached 141 All-Americans, 112 Conference Champions, 46 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifiers, 27 U.S.A. National Track and Field Team members, seven NCAA Champions, eight NCAA Regional Champions, three NCAA collegiate record holders and two conference Athletes of the Year. Additionally, McGuire has mentored two Olympic Silver Medalists, four Olympians earning five separate team berths, four World Championship Gold and Silver medalists and three Pan-American Games Gold medalists on the international level.

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