USF senior Matthew O'Neal's quest to become the Bulls' first national champion in 23 years fell short Friday in Eugene, Ore.
On his 22nd birthday, O'Neal placed third in the men's triple jump at the NCAA outdoor championships before an announced crowd of 12,244 at Hayward Field.
His best effort of the day (54 feet, 5.25 inches) was more than a foot shy of winner Latario Collie of Texas A&M (55-8.25) and well off his personal best (55-9.75) achieved last month at the NCAA East preliminary in Jacksonville.
As a top-eight placer, O'Neal earned All-America recognition for the sixth time in his career. He was trying to become USF's first national champion — in any sport — since Jon Dennis won the second of back-to-back men's outdoor 5,000-meter titles in 1993.
He now moves on to the U.S. Olympic Trials — for which he qualified this past winter — early next month in Eugene.
"Definitely there's no disappointment," O'Neal said by phone shortly after the event. "I'm thankful to just come out here and have the opportunity to compete again. Definitely I've had better marks, but I was just doing my best today and that's all I can ask for."