EUGENE, Ore. – This time for Marta Freitas, the tears represented joy and excitement.
And of course, sweet and emotional redemption.
One year removed from a devastating fall that resulted in a broken wrist on this same track at Hayward Field, Freitas concluded a perfect senior campaign by winning the 1500m run at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Saturday.
The SEC and NCAA East Prelims winner held off Stanford’s Elise Cranny at the finish line with a time of 4:09.53, just ahead of Cranny at 4:09.54.
The Portugal native was second after the opening lap, but then quickly took the lead, one she never relinquished.
Her performance, coupled with an outstanding day by Erica Bougard, gave the Bulldogs a school record 22 points en route to finishing a program best 13th overall. Arkansas won with 72 points, ahead of Oregon at 62.
“I just didn’t know if this would ever be possible,” an overwhelmed Freitas said post race. “This has been the most important day in my collegiate career, and I did it, and I’m so excited and emotional. I’m just so excited because this was a field of amazing athletes, and I’m the national champion right now.”
As excited was her coach, Houston Franks, who vividly remembers the disappointment from a year ago.
“I just felt so bad for her last year,” he said. “And to come back and have the kind of year she had speaks volume of her work ethic, dedication and the type of person she is. I couldn’t be more proud. It was a great day for Marta, and none of us will ever forget this moment.”
The same can be said for Bougard.
The busiest female this week scored twice Saturday, first in the high jump where she finished fifth at 5-11.5.
And thanks to strong performances in the long jump (20-6.5), javelin (117-2) and 800m run (2:17.89), she placed second in the heptathlon with 6,088 points after finishing fourth a year ago.
“What a great way for her to close out her illustrious career,” MSU head coach Steve Dudley said. “She was obviously very busy this week, but I knew if anyone could handle it, it would be Erica.”
Also competing Saturday was Logan Boss in the high jump, where she finished tied for 17th at 5-8.
1500m Run: 1. Marta Freitas, 4:09.53
Heptathlon: 2. Erica Bougard, 6,088 points. Winner: Kendell Williams, Georgia, 6,255 points.
High Jump: 5. Erica Bougard, 5-11.5; T17. Logan Boss, 5-8. Winner: Kimberly Williams, Kansas State, 6-2.
1. Arkansas, 72
2. Oregon, 62
3. Georgia, 41
4. Texas, 36
5. Texas A&M, 35
6. LSU, 31
T7. Kansas State, 29
T9. Southern Cal, 28
T9. Florida, 28
11. Kentucky, 25
12. Oklahoma State, 24
13. MISSISSIPPI STATE, 22
14. Wisconsin, 19
15. New Mexico, 18
(From MSU Media Relations)