Cowboy Senior Finley Seeks Elusive National Title on Friday

June 11, 2014


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With 10 All-America honors already under his belt, this weekend's NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships may seem like old hat to the University of Wyoming's Mason Finley. But Friday will be the Cowboy senior's last chance to capture a title to which he has come tantalizingly close during his collegiate career.

Finley has three top-three finishes in the discus at the outdoor national meet to his name, but has yet to take first. While at Kansas, he was runner-up in 2010, third in 2011 and runner-up again in 2012. Now a slimmed-down Finley, who transferred to Laramie in the summer of 2012, has his sights set on making it to the top of the podium in Eugene, Ore. He enters the meet with the fifth-farthest throw in the nation at 210-6, which he threw at the Cowpoke Open in Laramie on May 3. Finley qualified for the national meet by finishing fourth at the NCAA West Preliminary on May 31 in Fayetteville, Ark., as he became just the second Wyoming athlete to advance to the national meet under the current qualifying system.

"Mason has done all the work and has been very competitive in each meet this season, so at this point it is purely competing," UW associate head coach Paul Barrett said. "How much does he want it? It's one of the deepest fields ever in the discus, so it's going to be tough. There are 11 guys with throws over 203 feet, so any of them could win. Who handles the pressure in the conditions the best will be the winner, because it's that close right now. Mason's history at the NCAA Championships will help him. He's got some work to do, but he has been doing it at most of the meets this season. If he throws what he has been, he should have a chance to win."

Trials and finals of the men's discus will commence at 5 p.m. MT at Hayward Field. Fans can follow live results through ESPNU will televise the meet starting at 5:30 p.m. MT.

History at the NCAA Outdoor Championships
The Cowboys have earned a total of 18 All-America accolades at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, including six during the Mountain West era. All six of those honors have come in the discus, shot put or hammer throw. The most recent Cowboy to earn All-American at the outdoor national meet was Jake Shanklin finishing 10th in the hammer in 2009.

Last Time Out: Wyoming's Finley Qualifies for NCAA Championships
The University of Wyoming's Mason Finley continued a stellar career on May 31 at the NCAA West Preliminary, as he threw the discus 197-2 to finish fourth in the event and punch his ticket to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Finley was just the second UW track and field athlete ever to advance to the national meet under the current qualifying system and the first since 2010.

Junior Paul Thomas nearly joined Finley at the national meet, as he placed 16th in the discus at 179-11. He was just 6 feet shy of the 12th and final qualifying spot. Junior Shreese Daniels placed 40th in the hammer during the day with a toss of 167-9, while sophomore Scott Carter was 43rd in the triple jump at 46-8 1/4 and sophomore Amos Bowen was 45th in the 5,000 meters in 15:27. Wyoming scratched out of the 4x100-meter relay.

On Friday, graduate student Harry Fisher and senior Taylor Gardner both missed the top 12 in their event by less than a second. Fisher ran the second-fastest time Thursday, but crossed the line in 1:49 on Friday to finish 15th and miss the top 12 by one tenth of a second. Similarly, Gardner ran 58.70 Friday to finish 18th, just six tenths away from the top 12. Senior Garrett Zans had the 10th-fastest time entering Friday's steeplechase, but after hitting a barrier early in the race, finished 31st in 9:06. Redshirt freshman Audra DeStefano was the only Wyoming athlete to improve on her seed coming into the day, as she ran 10:31 in the steeplechase to finish 26th. Freshman Jordan Charles clocked 14.49 in the 110-meter hurdles for 40th, while sophomore Kereston Thomas was 44th in the 200 meters at 24.80. Senior Jenna Mann did not finish in the 100-meter hurdles and sophomore Tyler Anderson fouled on all three attempts in the hammer.

On Thursday, Senior Jenna Mann leapt 18-5 3/4 in the long jump to place 39th after entering ranked 47th, while junior Holly Page did the same in the 10,000 meters in 35:54 to move from her seed of 48th to finish 34th. Sophomore Kereston Thomas was 48th in the 100 at 12.27.

Wollert and Page Earn Academic All-District Honors
The University of Wyoming's Candace Wollert and Holly Page were named to the Capital One Academic All-District VII Track & Field/Cross Country First Team, the College Sports Information Directors of America announced May 29. Both Cowgirls advanced to the ballot for Academic All-America honors, which will be announced in late June.

A native of Lingle, Wyo., Wollert concluded a stellar career in brown and gold at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships in Laramie. She earned the fourth All-MW honor of her career at the meet by helping Wyoming's 4x400-meter relay to a runner-up finish. The senior ended her career with the fastest indoor 800 meters in school history in 2:10.52, while ranking second outdoors in the event at 2:08.30. She was also part of several top-10 UW marks in the 4x400 and distance medley relays. An Academic-All MW honoree and MW Scholar Athlete the past three seasons, she had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average at the time of her nomination, before graduating this month with a 3.97 GPA in family consumer sciences.

Page notched another standout season on the track and in cross country during 2013-14. Last fall, she earned All-MW First Team and All-Mountain Region honors, while pacing the Cowgirls in all six cross country races. She continued that success with a victory in the 5,000 meters at the MW Indoor Championships for another All-MW honor. During the indoor season, she ran the third-fastest 5,000 meters in school history and eighth-fastest mile. Outdoors, she qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary in the 10,000 meters by running the second-fastest time in Cowgirl history. A two-time Academic All-MW and Scholar Athlete winner, she currently owns a 3.96 GPA in elementary education.

To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30 and have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution.

15 Wyoming Tracksters Earn NCAA Bids
Fifteen University of Wyoming track and field members qualified to compete in the NCAA West Preliminary on May 29-31 in Fayetteville, Ark., the governing body announced. Eight Cowboys and seven Cowgirls represent the program's highest total ever.

To reach the NCAA's East or West Preliminary meet, an athlete must have ranked in the region's top 48 of his/her event. From there, the top 12 finishers in each event at the two regional meets received a bid to the NCAA Championships on June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore.

Senior Mason Finley was the top Cowboy qualifier, sitting second in the West in the discus with a mark of 210-6. Fellow senior Garrett Zans ran in his third regional meet in the steeplechase with a time of 8:50.45 for 10th. He also ran the event at the 2011 and 2012 meets. Junior Paul Thomas competed in his third-straight NCAA meet by qualifying 13th in the discus at 190-11. Graduate student Harry Fisher advanced in the 800 meters with a time of 1:49.51 for 22nd, while sophomore Scott Carter was 26th in the triple jump at 50-6 3/4. Freshman Jordan Charles ranked 31st in the 110-meter hurdles, sophomore Tyler Anderson was 42nd in the hammer at 198-0 and sophomore Amos Bowen was 44th in the 5,000 meters at 14:07.20.

Senior Taylor Gardner was the top Cowgirl at 13th in the 400-meter hurdles in 58.14. She also qualified in the event last season. Sophomore Kereston Thomas made the top 48 in the 100 and 200 meters. Her time of 11.57 in the 100 was 28th and 23.85 in the 200 was 35th. Senior Jenna Mann made two events as well, the 100-meter hurdles and long jump. She ranked 31st in the hurdles in 13.58 and 47th in the long jump at 19-6 1/4. Mann, Thomas and Gardner combined with senior Katy Hall to run the 4x100-meter relay, which was ranked 22nd at 45.32. Junior Shreese Daniels made her third-straight trip to the regional meet and was second in the hammer with a throw of 190-6 to rank 39th. Redshirt freshman Audra DeStefano was 32nd in the steeplechase at 10:24.04. Junior Holly Page was 48th in the 10,000 meters at 35:04.

Cowboys and Cowgirls Set Program Records for All-MW Honors
The University of Wyoming men's and women's track and field teams set two program records on May 19, as 15 Cowboys and Cowgirls collected 22 All-Mountain West honors when the league office announced the accolades. Both marks represent the most Wyoming has earned in its 15 years in the MW. All-Conference selections were awarded to the top-three finishers in each event at the MW Outdoor Championships in Laramie.

Sophomore Kereston Thomas and senior Taylor Gardner highlighted the honorees for the Cowgirls with three apiece. Thomas ran a school-record 11.57 to win the 100 meters and was second in the 200 meters, while Gardner crossed the line first in the 400-meter hurdles in 58.52 and was a member of the second-place 4x400-meter relay. The duo also teamed with seniors Jenna Mann and Audrey West to win the 4x100-meter relay at 45.32, the second-fastest time in Wyoming history. Mann was one of two Cowgirls to earn two All-MW honors, as she also finished third in the heptathlon, just three points shy of the school record. Sophomore McKenzie Brogan claimed two all-conference honors as she placed third in the 400 meters and ran on the 4x400 with senior Candace Wollert and freshman Kerry White. Redshirt freshman Audra DeStefano was runner-up in the steeplechase to round out UW's honorees.

For the Cowboys, senior Mason Finley claimed two All-MW honors with victories in the discus and shot put. His throw of 60-11 1/4 in the shot put ranks fifth in Wyoming history. Senior Garrett Zans and junior Kyle Sullivan won the steeplechase and decathlon, respectively, while junior Paul Thomas, graduate student Harry Fisher and freshman Jordan Charles were runners-up in the discus, 800 meters and 110-meter hurdles. Charles' personal-best time of 14.11 in the hurdles ranks sixth in UW history. Sophomore Scott Carter placed third in the triple jump.

Wyoming head coach Bryan Berryhill's student-athletes have earned a total of 39 All-MW accolades in track and field during his first two years in Laramie.

Four Straight for Wyoming's Finley
If three is good, four is better. Wyoming's Mason Finley was named the Mountain West Track and Field Male Athlete of the Week for an impressive fourth-consecutive week on May 6, when the conference office announced the award. Finley has won the award seven times this season.

The senior thrower helped Wyoming to a historic home meet at the Cowpoke Open on May 3. On his last attempt of the day, Finley uncorked a monster throw of 210-6 (64.17 meters) to win the discus with a new personal best and break his own facility record of 205-0 that he set at last year's meet. The mark was just 4 inches shy of the school record in 2000 by Jason Gervais, who went on to compete for Canada in the Olympics that summer. At the time, Finley's throw ranked fifth in the NCAA this season and 13th in the world, including the fourth-furthest throw by an American. The mark was also the third-best throw in the history of the conference.