National title, NCAA meet record highlight first day of NCAA Outdoor Championships

South Dakota's Chris Nilsen defended his NCAA Outdoor pole vault title and broke his own record on the first day of the championships in Austin, Texas.
South Dakota's Chris Nilsen defended his NCAA Outdoor pole vault title and broke his own record on the first day of the championships in Austin, Texas.

Release courtesy of GoBison.com, GoYotes.com and GoJacks.com

The first day of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships was a success with a new meet record and a national champion crowned highlighting the day.

North Dakota State
AUSTIN, Texas – North Dakota State senior Payton Otterdahl placed fourth in the shot put to lead a group of Bison men's throwers competing at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Wednesday.
 
Otterdahl posted a throw of 65-03.25 (19.89m) to earn first team All-America honors and the highest finish ever for the Bison men at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships. Matti Mortimore's fifth-place finish in the javelin in 2017 was the previous best outdoor finish for NDSU.
 
Otterdahl entered the meet ranked second in the NCAA for the outdoor season. He will compete in the discus on Friday evening, where he holds a No. 3 national ranking.
 
Freshman Kristoffer Thomsen took 15th place in the shot put for second team All-America honors in his NCAA meet debut. His best throw on the evening measured 62-00.25 (18.90m).
 
Sophomore Alex Talley placed 19th in the shot put and 22nd in the hammer throw for honorable mention All-America status in both events. Talley threw 60-08.00 (18.49m) in the shot put and 214-9 (65.47m) in the hammer.
 
Redshirt freshman Brendan Artley finished 24th in the javelin for honorable mention All-America honors in his first national meet appearance.
 
Between the shot put and javelin, the Bison men have now earned nine first- or second-team All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 2015.
 
NDSU is tied with UCLA for the most entries in the men's throwing events at the national meet, with six.

South Dakota
AUSTIN, Texas—Records were meant to be broken.
 
South Dakota junior Chris Nilsen came out on top in the toughest NCAA pole vault competition in history, going on to break his own NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship meet record – twice – in the process on Wednesday evening. Nilsen ultimately came away with his third national title with a personal best of 19 feet, 6 ¼ inches (5.95m).
 
While Nilsen's NCAA meet record height was the highlight of the evening, several other NCAA meet records in the process were broken as well. The seven men who cleared 18-8 ¼ was a record and having three men past 18-10 ¼ was also a meet record.

For comparison's sake, Nilsen was the only vaulter to clear 18-4 ½ en route to winning his NCAA title a year ago.
 
The three-hour long competition included the IAAF world leader and NCAA record holder, LSU freshman phenom Mondo Duplantis, No. 2 in the world in Nilsen and four other men ranked in the top-10 of the world leaderboard.
 
After seven men advanced past 18-8 ¼, both Nilsen and Duplantis opted out of the next bar to watch as the field was whittled down. Only Sam Houston State's Clayton Fritsch, who finished third at 18-10 ¼, joined them in attempting 19 feet.
 
Duplantis took the initial lead with a first-attempt make of 19-0 ¼, but it was Nilsen who set the stage when he made a personal best 19-4 ¼ (5.90m) on his first try.
 
While that bar could have won it for Nilsen, he went on to clear two inches higher by making 19-6 ¼ on a first attempt as well. Duplantis, the favorite of the competition, missed his two chances at 19-6 ¼ to continue on. After winning the competition, Nilsen also took three tries at 19-8 ½ (6.01m) in an attempt to break the overall NCAA record.
 
Nilsen's 19-6 ¼ bar improves his own NCAA Championship meet record by five inches.
 
The height also moves Nilsen up three spots from sixth to third in NCAA history. He remains the American leader and No. 2 in the world this season, although besting this season's mark by four inches. Nilsen also moves to No. 25 in world record books, jumping 30 spots past on the IAAF's all-time list.
 
Nilsen boasts three NCAA Championship titles and six All-America accolades in his first three years at South Dakota.

South Dakota State
AUSTIN, Texas - The South Dakota State men's 4x100m relay squad ended their 2019 campaign as the 19th-best team in the country, competing in the semifinals of the NCAA DI Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
 
The squad of freshman Emmanual Phoulom-Smith, sophomores Coby Hilton and Daniel Clarke, and junior Sam Zenner (raced in that order) came into the semifinals as the 24th seed and finished 19th overall, sixth in the third and final heat of the round, with their third-fastest time of the season and in school history (40.17).

The four Jackrabbits will be announced as All-America Honorable Mentions by the USTFCCCA as soon as the track and field championships conclude. 
 
The quartet earned a bid to Austin with the school's first sub-40-second performance at the NCAA DI West Preliminaries on May 23-25 in Sacramento, Calif. (39.99).
 
The road to the national championships began with a No. 2 all-time SDSU performance at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate (April 18, 40.55) and improved to the then-school record at the Drake Relays when pitted against a Houston squad (April 24-27, 40.12).
 
The team defended their Summit League Championship title at the beginning of May (8-10, 40.99) and reset the school record for the second time of season at the west prelims to score the last qualifying spot to Austin.
 
The Jackrabbit speedsters of Zenner, Hilton, and Clarke have been a member of four school-record resetting teams, including two from 2018, while true freshman Phoulom-Smith has been a part of two.
 
The four were the first Jackrabbit men's or women's relay squad to qualify for the NCAA DI West Preliminaries while Hilton was the first SDSU male to compete in the 200m and qualify for both the 100m and 200m at the preliminaries.
 
The squad accomplished many historical achievements for not only South Dakota State, but for The Summit League as well by becoming the first men's relay team - 4x400m or 4x100m - to qualify for the NCAA DI Outdoor Championships.
 
The last qualifying spot to compete for the national championship crown on Friday belongs North Carolina A&T with a time of 39.00 seconds while the fastest team out of the semifinals was Florida with a time of 38.35 seconds.