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EUGENE, Ore. — Former Versailles state champion Sam Prakel (Oregon) and former Covington state champion (Jackie Siefring) put the finishing touches on outstanding college track and field careers at the NCAA championships last weekend, earning second team All-American honors.
The last line of his collegiate résumé wasn’t exactly to Prakel’s liking. But taken as a whole, it put the finishing touches on an athletic and academic career the likes of which few student-athletes could match.
Oregon’s senior 1,500-meter runner weathered a bumpy race in rainy conditions Friday, finishing sixth in the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field. In the final collegiate race for Prakel, he earned his fifth career all-America honor, complementing a record of academic achievement that includes academic all-America honors for the biochemistry major.
“I’m sure all the emotions will hit me in a bit, once I realize this is my last time wearing an Oregon uniform and running at historic Hayward Field,” Prakel said. “I’m lucky to come out with an all-American and some points. Just coming in with real high expectations for myself, right now in the moment it’s not where I wanted to finish. But I couldn’t be happier with the entire season, and my entire career here.”
With little hope of impacting the team race Friday, Prakel ended up sixth in 3:45.73, with Wisconsin’s Oliver Hoare winning in 3:44.77 thanks to a late push past Vincent Ciattei of Virginia Tech. Prakel swung wide from the middle of the pack to give himself running room with 400 to go, but didn’t make a strong enough move to be a threat.
“The whole season I’ve been confident in my move; maybe racing against guys like Kerr, I tried to change things up a little too much today, maybe tried to wait a little too long,” Prakel said. “In theory it was going to be a good plan — if I was just a little farther up. Looking back I should have just been a little more confident, and made my move then just to get up on the shoulder of Ciattei and some of the other guys up front.”
Up next for Prakel will be the USA Outdoor Championships later this month in Iowa, where he’ll look to follow up last year’s seventh-place finish. Then he’ll embark on a pro running career — while also having a biochemistry degree to fall back on.
Prakel brought a 3.89 cumulative grade-point average into this spring. He won the NCAA’s Elite 90 Award in 2016 for being the competitor at the NCAA Indoor Championships with the highest cumulative GPA, and he was also named an academic all-American that year. Last fall, Prakel was named the Pac-12 scholar-athlete of the year for cross country, and in May he was named academic all-district, putting him in contention for another academic all-America honor this spring.
“Sam is a world beater,” Oregon men’s track and field coach Robert Johnson said. “We’re going to definitely miss his leadership there in the distance group next year.”
Siefring culminated her brilliant Zips’ career garnering All-America accolades for the sixth time, including a pair of first-team citations, registering a seven-event cumulative score of 5,725 in the women’s heptathlon to place 10th. Her performance represented her highest-point total in three career appearances in the heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships after posting scores of 5,663 and 5,626 in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
“A challenging day for the Zips today,” Akron head track and field coach Dennis Mitchell commented. “Not the best marks, however, our heptathletes dominated the 800’s and won their heats against the last crowd at Hayward Field.”
Siefring opened second-day action in the women’s heptathlon registering the sixth-best mark in the long jump with a leap of 19-5.50 (5.93m). After fouling on her opening attempt, Siefring recorded identical marks of 19-5.50 (5.93m) on both her second and third attempts.
In the javelin, Siefring registered a mark of 117-7 (35.85m).
Siefring wo nher heat in the 800 meters, crossing the line in 2:13.53 to finish first the heptathlon.
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