Cheserek win 4th Pac12 Cross Country Title

Inline image 1

TUCSON, Ariz. – Edward Cheserek won his unprecedented fourth straight Pac-12 men's cross country individual championship Friday on a sweltering Rudolph North Golf Course. Despite record temperatures in Arizona, Cheserek took the lead with 3,000 meters remaining and surged away from the pack to win comfortably in 23:58.9.

Cheserek entered the day with three career cross country titles, which was tied for the most in league history with distance legends Steve Prefontaine of Oregon and Washington State's Gerry Lindgren and Henry Rono.

Meanwhile, Katie Rainsberger staked her claim as the league's top freshman by leading the Duck women to a fourth-place finish. Rainsberger's fifth-place run in 20:30.6 was the highest finish by a Duck true freshman since Jordan Hasay was third in 2009.
No. 7 Colorado won its sixth straight Pac-12 men's title with 41 points. No. 2 Stanford was second at 47 points, followed by No. 10 UCLA (58), No. 3 Oregon (94), No. 15 WSU (187), California (163), No. 25 Washington (187), Arizona State (225) and Arizona (234).

The fifth-ranked Oregon women were fourth in a hotly contested race. No. 1 Colorado won with 33 points. No. 2 Washington followed with 74 points. No. 11 Stanford edged the Ducks for third with 83 points. Oregon scored 88 points for fourth, followed by No. 17 (169), No. 25 California (184), No. 23 UCLA (201), Arizona (204), Oregon State (224), Arizona State (236), Washington State (304) and USC (375).

How It Happened - Men: In a closer-than-expected men's race, Colorado, Stanford and UCLA all placed thee runners in the top 12, with Colorado coming out on top. For Oregon, Travis Neuman had his best race of the season as Oregon's No. 2 runner. The junior from Bend, Ore., was 13th overall in 24:44.4. The Ducks also counted freshman Levi Thomet's 22nd-place finish (25:00.00), sophomore Matthew Maton's 28th-place effort (25:03.7) and sophomore Tanner Anderson's 30th-place finish (25:06.9). Junior Sam Prakel was 33rd in 25:09.1.

How It Happened - Women: While Colorado proved its No. 1 ranking with three runners in the top four, the Ducks landed all five runners in the top 25, just falling shy of Stanford for the bronze. Behind Rainsberger, junior Alli Cash, in just her second race this season, took 13thin 20:56.7. The Ducks also counted senior Sam Nadel's 22nd-place finish (21:17.0), junior Emma Abrahamson's 23rd-place showing (21:18.2) and senior Maggie Schmaedick's 25th-place finish (21:21.3). Oregon also had Jessica Hull 27th in 21:23.3. Amy-Eloise Neal of Washington was the individual medalist in 20:22.9.

What It Means: Training through Oregon's record rainfall in October and then competing in triple-digit heat on Friday was a contributing factor to the men's lowest finish since 2005 (sixth) and the women's lowest since 2011 (fourth). The Ducks may also have some heat to deal with at the NCAA West Regional Championships, which are Nov. 11 in Sacramento, though triple-digit temperatures would be unlikely.

Odds and Ends: Cheserek, who won for the 16th time in his last 18 races, and for the 17th time in his career overall, joined Arizona women's distance standout Amy Skiersez as the only runners with four career Pac-12 career cross country titles … Skiersez won the women's crown four times in a row between 1995-98 … Neuman matched his best performance at the Pac-12 championships – 13th – from a season ago … It was also a top Pac-12 finish for Abrahamson on the women's side (23rd) … The record high temperatures in Tucson caused a number of runners to require medical attention after the races, including Oregon's Sam Prakel and Austin Tamagno.

When to Watch: Tape-delayed coverage of the Championships will air on the Pac-12 Networks on Monday, Oct. 31 at 6 p.m. Pacific, with Jim Watson, Dwight Stones and Lewis Johnson calling the action.

What's Next: NCAA West Regional, Nov. 11, Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, Sacramento, Calif.

Quoteworthy – Head Coach Robert Johnson

On Edward Cheserek's fourth pac-12 title:
"It puts him in the same conversation as some of the greatest to ever run in the Pac-12. To have him accomplish that as an Oregon Duck – we have been blessed to have seen him mature and grow. Credit to coach Andy Powell for shepherding his talent over the last four years."

On the men's race:
"It was definitely challenging. I'd like to think that we're a better team than what we showed today. And the heat was certainly a dramatic difference from what we've been training in, but at the end of the day, we didn't have our best race. When you are in the best conference in the country and you have an off day, it can really make you vulnerable."

On the women's race:
"The women had a hard race too with more ranked teams, but like the men, we knew going into it that if we didn't run a good race, we could get thumped. The Pac-12 is just that good. For both teams to get fourth, it was a little humbling."

On what's next:
"Fortunately, I think we're going to be able to take the lessons that we learned today and use that as motivation to not let it happen again. We're going to come back and regroup and work on some things and get ready for regionals."