EUGENE , Ore. – It wasn’t until 15 minutes had passed since the conclusion of the heptathlon had LaQuinta Aaron realized what she had accomplished. And even then, she wasn’t sure.
But as she was about to depart the holding area following the 800-meter run, the final event of the heptathlon, an NCAA representative told her she needed to go to the podium to receive her award. And with those words came a smile, because the Mississippi State senior from Tuscaloos achieved what she came to do.
Entering the day in a tie for 14th at Oregon ‘s Hayward Field, Aaron began to make her move. After placing 9th in the long jump (18-06.50) and finishing second in the javelin (140-07), she ran 2:23.57 in the 800 to finish seventh at the NCAA Outdoor Track amp& Field Championships en route to earning All-American honors with 5,455 points.
And with that coveted status, she’ll enter the record books as one of the all-time great thinclads in Mississippi State history.
“I accomplished what I wanted,” she said smiling and gripping her trophy with great pride. “(Wednesday) night, I went to bed with this on my mind. I really wanted this. I can’t even describe what I’m feeling.”
Her day on Thursday mirrored that of her performance at the SEC Championships back in May, where she finished second with a career-best 5,563 points, the second-most in school history.
She was in fifth place entering the final three events then before making her climb to second.
“I knew if she had a day like she had at the SECs, she would score here,” MSU coach Al Schmidt said. “She did just that, and I’m so proud of her. She’s been rock solid for us since she came here.”
When she woke up Thursday morning, Aaron remembered what she had done on Day 2 at the SECS. Her performance then gave her a lot of confidence, and she knew she had put herself in position for a repeat occurrence.
“I guess that’s why I wasn’t too nervous,” she said, still smiling. “I just kept thinking about that day, and I remembered what it took then. I guess you could say it worked twice.”
Oregon ‘s Brianne Theisen won for the second-straight year with 6,094 points. Maryland ‘s Kiani Profit finished second with 5,682 while SEC champion Chealsea Taylor of Alabama placed third at 5,617.
And on this day, it wasn’t just Aaron that shined on the big stage.
So too did the men’s 4×400-meter relay, which is ranked No. 3 nationally.
With rain falling and the surface drenched and rather slippery, the heralded foursome of O’Neal Wilder, Dwight Mullings, Emanuel Mayers and Tavaris Tate won their heat with great ease after posting a time of 3:04.70, the third fasted behind SEC foe Florida (3:03.34) and the Pac-10’s Southern California (3:04.51).
They led from start to finish and were never challenged, as they won their heat by nearly two seconds.
“It was a fantastic run, and the scary thing is we can run it even faster,” Schmidt said. “It will be a great final.”
The finals are set for Saturday at 1:50 p.m. and will be televised live on CBS.