Ducks 2nd and 4th at NCAA Meet



 Ducks finish 2nd and 4th at NCAA Meet

The Oregon Ducks women had a banner day at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday, and they still couldn't catch the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Oregon finished second with 62 points, while the Razorbacks won their first women's outdoor title with 72 points. Georgia was a distant third with 41 points.

Ducks sprinter Ariana Washington pulled off a rare double, winning the 100 and the 200. Teammate Deajah Stevens was just behind Washington in the 200, giving the Ducks 18 points in that event. Raevyn Rogers won the 800 in dominant fashion. Sasha Wallace took third in the 100 hurdles. The Oregon 4x100 relay team also took third.

But even as Oregon piled up the points, Arkansas held off the Ducks late. Dominique Scott won the 5,000 meters to clinch Arkansas' title, and the Razorbacks padded their victory with a second-place finish and eight more points in the 4x400 relay, the final event of the day.



Wow: Mississippi State’s Marta Freitas Wins Women’s 1500 But A Premature Celebration Nearly Costs Her The Title as Stanford’s Elise Cranny Almost Steals It
 


EUGENE, Ore. — Heavy favorite
 Marta Freitas of Mississippi State came through as the favorite by the slimmest of margins as she captured the women’s 1500 in 4:09.53 to Stanford’s Elise Cranny’s 4:09.54 at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship as a premature celebration nearly cost Freitas the title.

The senior Freitas, who came into this afternoon’s final with a seasonal best time (4:09.80) that was more than 3 seconds better than everyone field, is the second straight Mississippi State runner to win the 1500 title as last year Rhianwedd Price won the title for the Bulldogs. However, today’s race was far from a cakewalk as the sophomore Cranny displayed the form that made her a high school superstar.

freitas-cranny8Coming off the final turn, Cranny was right on the heels of Freitas, who had led from 400 on, passing 300 in 51.80, 700 in 2:00.08 and 1100 in 3:06.39. Midway down the stretch, Freitas started to open up some daylight. However, in the closing stages Cranny started to close on Freitas. Would Freitas hold on for the wire-to-wire win? It appears the answer would be yes by the tiniest of margins but then Freitas put her arms out to celebrate as Cranny lunged for the line.

Who won?

After a slight delay, the answer was Freitas by .004 – as her time was 4:09.530 to Cranny’s 4:09.534. Freitas ran a 63.15 on her last lap to Cranny’s 62.85. No one else in the field broke 65 on the last lap. Dartmouth’s Dana Giordanoended up best of the rest in third in 4:11.86 as she got yet another PB by running 4:11.86 (coming into NCAAs her pb was 4:18.24 but she ran 4:13.18 in the semis). The NCAA indoor 800 champ Kaela Edwards of Oklahoma State tried to stay within striking distance throughout but she could only manage a 67.83 last lap and ended up 6th. 

Courtney Frerichs Wins Women’s NCAA Steeplechase Title In Style, Breaks Jenny Simpson’s Collegiate Record By Running 9:24.41

 Email this page

2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

June 8, 2016 to June 11, 2016
Hayward Field, Eugene, OR

By LetsRun.com
June 11, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — New Mexico grad student Courtney Frerichs took advantage of the cool mid to high 60-degree temperatures and ran into the history books as she won the women’s steeplechase at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in style, running 9:24.41 to break Jenny Simpson’s 7-year-old 9:25.54 meet and collegiate record.

Frerichs’ win certainly wasn’t a surprise – the only real question coming in was, ‘Would she get the record?’ To say that Frerichs was the heavy favorite coming into today’s race would almost be an understatement as coming in she had a personal best of 9:29.31. Only two other competitors in this afternoon’s final had a personal best under 9:50, Elinor Purrier of New Hampshire (9:47.17) and Jessica Kamilos of Arkansas (9:48.16).

Those two women took second and third in new personal bests as Kamilos ran 9:41.28 and Purrier 9:47.71.


Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers Wins Her Third Straight NCAA 800m Title In Dominant Fashion

 Email this page

2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

June 8, 2016 to June 11, 2016
Hayward Field, Eugene, OR

by LetsRun.com
June 11, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. –Oregon sophomore Raevyn Rogers successful defended her 800 title in dominant fashion by running 2:00.75, the first collegiate sub 2:01 of the year, to win her third straight NCAA 800 crown (2015 outdoors, 2016 indoors, 2015 outdoors).

The race was run in windy conditions and Rogers wanted no part of the lead when they came off the stagger on the backstretch. Rogers didn’t go to the lead until early on the final 200 but her final 200 was way better than everyone else’s as she closed in 29.64 while no one else in the field broke 31.00.

Rogers-NCAA-2016fPac 12 400 champ Olivia Baker, a sophomore from Stanford who came in as the 2016 NCAA leader at 2:01.02, gave herself a nice early birthday present (she turns 20 tomorrow) by finishing second in 2:02.65 thanks to her final 200 of 31.07. BYU’s Shea Collinsworth, who had the lead at 400 (59.40) and 600 (1:30.95), was third in 2:02.83.

Stanford senior Claudia Saunders was the only other woman under 2:03 as she placed fourth in 2:02.99.

NCAA Women’s Recap: Keturah Orji Breaks the AR in the TJ, Frosh Ariana Washington Wins the 100-200 & Dom Scott’s Double Leads Arkansas to First Team Title

 Email this page

2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

June 8, 2016 to June 11, 2016
Hayward Field, Eugene, OR

By LetsRun.com
June 11, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — The 2016 NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships came to a close Saturday afternoon and the Arkansas Razorback women, led by Dominique Scott who completed the 5,000/10,000 double with ease, were able to make history and win their first NCAA women’s outdoor title.

This is the Arkansas’ women’s second title in two years – their indoor track title in 2015 was the only other women’s national title in school history in any sport. Only 29 to go until the women match the 30 that have been won by the men’s team (20 indoors, 10 outdoor, but only one since 2000).

Arkansas won with 72 points, 10 more than defending champion Oregon. The Ducks were counted out by most after a rough first day but put up a hell of fight to try to defend their title as freshman Ariana Washington became the first woman since 1998 to win the 100 (10.95,+2.6) and 200 (22.21, +1.9) at the same NCAA championships.

There were a number of fine performances put up in a variety of events. In the steeplechase, New Mexico’s Courtney Frerichs beat Jenny Simpson’s collegiate record in the women’s steeplechase by running 9:24.41, which we recap separately here. Texas A&M’s Shamier Little won the 400h in a world-leading 43.51.

EUGENE — All but knocked out after the first day of women's competition at the NCAA Track & Field Championships, the Oregon Ducks mounted a ferocious comeback on a sunny afternoon Saturday at Hayward Field.

The Ducks even took a brief, 12-point lead over favored Arkansas late in the meet when Ariana Washington and Deajah Stevens went 1-2 in the 200-meter final.

Washington's wind-legal time of 22.21 seconds is No. 2 in school history. Stevens was an oh-so-close second in 22.25, third on Oregon's career list. The crowd of 12,497 roared.

It was a magical moment, but the moment was fleeting.

The Razorbacks had too much remaining firepower, including a 4-6 finish in the heptathlon and a victory in the 5,000 by distance ace Dominique Scott.

Arkansas wrapped it up by placing second in the meet-concluding 4x400 relay to finish with 72 points.

Oregon was second with 62, including a 58-point second day.

Imagine what the Ducks might have done had they been at full strength.

Oregon was without sprinters Hannah Cunliffe, who has an injured hamstring, and Jasmine Todd, who left the team without explanation two weeks ago.

Either almost certainly would have factored into the team scoring.

"This one stings just a little bit," UO coach Robert Johnson said. "I felt we could have controlled some things better. The Jasmine Todd situation probably stings a little bit. Hannah Cunliffe stings a little bit. Those are things we should have done a better job of as a coaching staff."

Johnson second-guessed the Ducks' decision to run Cunliffe in Thursday's 4x100 qualifying. She had hamstring issues two weeks ago at the NCAA West Preliminary round, but Johnson said she had a strong week of practice leading into the NCAA Championships.

Cunliffe didn't look right in the 4x100, and pulled up in qualifying for the 100. She was unable to compete on Saturday.

"Jasmine Todd, that's not my story to tell," Johnson said.

The Ducks who did compete on Saturday were superb, matching or exceeding the form charts in every event.

Washington also won the 100, dipping under 11 seconds for the first time in her career to finish in a wind-aided 10.95.Sasha Wallace, Stevens, Danielle Barbian and Washington placed third in a 4x100 juggled in Cunliffe's absence.

Wallace finished third in the 100 hurdles, Annie Leblanc fifth in the 1,500 and Alli Cash fifth in the 5,000.

"All of those events today definitely stood out because of the pressure and duress," Johnson said. "We asked them to go out and be perfect."

It's to difficult to imagine Washington being any better.

She missed the 2015 outdoor season with an injury and recalled watching former UO sprinter Jenna Prandini put on a show.

This time, it was her show.

"After dealing with the losses of Jasmine and Hannah earlier this week, you kind of take it upon yourself," Washington said. "Like, 'I'm good to put the team on my back when I have to. I'm good for showing up when I need to.'

"I didn't really think about them. I thought, 'Let me do what I can do to put us back in the mix.'"

She did, although she was having trouble believing it after the 200.

"It was like, 'Did I do that? Was that really me,'" she said. "It was like an out-of-body experience."

It was that way across the board.

Rogers was fourth at the bell in the 800 and third at the end of the back straight. She had to go wide on the curve, flew into first as she came off the turn and onto the home straight. From there, the crowd brought her home.

The fans helped fuel Oregon's performance all day, but there was more to it.

Leblanc, a senior, said there was pride on the line.

The Ducks didn't want to quit. They weren't about to give up. They certainly didn't like being written off.

"Obviously, we were aware," Leblanc said. "We're not oblivious. We knew we had to put on a fight. ... We don't show our character when everything is pink and perfect.

"I think we show who we are, that we are Oregon, when we're behind and have to fight."

The University of Portland's Lauren LaRocco, fourth in Thursday's 10,000, came back Saturday to place sixth in the 5,000.

Oregon Ducks women had a banner day at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday, and they still couldn't catch the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Oregon finished second with 62 points, while the Razorbacks won their first women's outdoor title with 72 points. Georgia was a distant third with 41 points.

Ducks sprinter Ariana Washington pulled off a rare double, winning the 100 and the 200. Teammate Deajah Stevens was just behind Washington in the 200, giving the Ducks 18 points in that event. Raevyn Rogers won the 800 in dominant fashion. Sasha Wallace took third in the 100 hurdles. The Oregon 4x100 relay team also took third.

But even as Oregon piled up the points, Arkansas held off the Ducks late. Dominique Scott won the 5,000 meters to clinch Arkansas' title, and the Razorbacks padded their victory with a second-place finish and eight more points in the 4x400 relay, the final event of the day.

Here are links to all of our Day 4 coverage:







Inline image 1




WASHINGTON DOUBLES ON FINAL DAY AS UO WOMEN TAKE SECOND
COURTESY: GODUCKS.COM
RELEASE DATE: 06/11/2016
PrintRSS

by Rob Moseley
Editor, GoDucks.com
Photo: Eric Evans

EUGENE, Ore. — A year after winning the NCAA team title with 59 points, the Oregon women racked up 62 in the 2016 NCAA Outdoor championship meet.

That wasn’t enough to win another title, after pre-meet favorite Arkansas totalled 72. But that didn’t stop Saturday from being an unforgettable afternoon at Hayward Field for the UO women, who couldn’t afford any missteps to have a shot at the team title, and rose to the occasion.

Ariana Washington became the first freshman in meet history to double, in the 100 and 200, becoming the latest in a line of Oregon heirs to the throne as queen of NCAA sprints. Sandwiched in between those national titles was another in the 800 by Raevyn Rogers, a sophomore who has now won three straight national championships at that distance outdoors and indoors.

Washington edged teammate Deajah Stevens for the 200-meter title, and the Ducks also got third-place finishes from Sasha Wallace in the 100 hurdles and from the quartet of Wallace, Stevens, Danielle Barbian and Washington in the 4x100. The UO women piled up 58 points on Saturday alone, one fewer than their winning total from 2015.

“We knew those girls were super, super talented,” said UO coach Robert Johnson, whose team won a top-four trophy for the eighth straight year. “But I think all of those events today definitely stood out because of the pressure and the duress — that we asked them to go out today and be perfect.”

Washington was the breakout star, first anchoring the 4x100 relay to third in 42.91 seconds. Running without mainstays Jasmine Todd and Hannah Cunliffe, a quartet that was only finalized Friday brought home six team points for Oregon.

Less than an hour later, Washington became just the second freshman to win the 100, in a wind-aided 10.95. And 45 minutes after that, Washington became the first freshman ever to win the 200, edging Stevens in a winning time of 22.21.

Washington became the fourth UO woman in five years to win the 100, following in the footsteps of English Gardner (2012, 2013) and Jenna Prandini(2015). Prandini was also second in the 200 last spring.

“Watching Jenna do the 100-200, you just don’t think, ‘That’s going to be me next year,’” said Washington, who received a medical hardship waiver for the 2015 season. “You just don’t. That doesn’t ever cross your mind. You just think, man, I have a lot of work to do. To come out today and do that — man, I don’t know. It hasn’t hit me yet.”

Stevens was second in the 200 in 22.25, giving Washington and Stevens the second- and third-fastest times in UO history. In the hurdles, Wallace followed her school-record 12.95 in prelims by running a wind-aided 12.81 on Saturday.

Wallace burst out of the blocks and was first over the first several hurdles. She was passed in the final few meters by second-place finisher Tobi Amusan of Texas-El Paso, but Wallace outleaned Cindy Ofili of Michigan for third.

“That was my focus, just to get out and try to maintain and hold on for as long as I could,” Wallace said. “I could have had a better last three hurdles, but to get third, that’s huge points for my team.”

Rogers labored a bit in her preliminary Thursday, finishing second in 2:03.55. She ran 2:00.75 on Saturday, despite battling windy conditions.

“It was a tough race,” said Rogers, who followed up her 2015 NCAA Outdoor and 2016 NCAA Indoor titles with another. “I feel like because it’s an Olympic year, everything is way more intense. The field was deep and the weather made it tough, but I’m really blessed with the outcome.”

Oregon has now won three straight women’s 800 titles, after Laura Roesler won in 2014 and Rogers won in 2015.

The Ducks also got points from their final entry in the meet, Alli Cash, who was fifth in the 5,000 in 16:06.11. Dominique Scott won that event for Arkansas, securing the team title for the Razorbacks. But that couldn’t dull the shine of Oregon’s day.

Earlier, Annie Leblanc took advantage of her background in the 800 to kick into fifth in the 1,500 in a personal-best 4:14.80.

“As a senior, I’m just happy that I was finally able to contribute to the team that has given me so much over the last couple years,” Leblanc said. “I’m pretty pleased. Obviously a podium top-three would have been even better, but you just have to be patient and have faith and keep working hard, and hopefully points will come.”

The UO women are left to wonder how many more points they might have scored with Todd and Cunliffe available Saturday. But their absence also served to make the 58-point day by those Ducks who were in action that much more impressive.

“Those are things we should have done a better job with as a coaching staff,” Johnson said. “(But we’re) extremely proud of the girls. This is probably one that we’ll remember more than some of the ones we’ve won. Because we talked last night about being perfect, that we had to come out and be perfect today. And we were damn near close.”



Not a Misprint: True Freshman Donavan Brazier Runs 1:43.55 To Win NCAA 800m In One Of The Greatest American Junior Performances Ever

 Email this page

2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

June 8, 2016 to June 11, 2016
Hayward Field, Eugene, OR

Not Since 50 Years Ago To The Day Has An American Junior Run So Well in A Middle Distance Event

By Jonathan Gault
June 10, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — When Donavan Brazier arrived in Eugene, Ore., this week for the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, he had no idea who Jim Ryun was. After running 1:45.07 in Wednesday’s prelims, Brazier did some digging and read up on the 1968 Olympic silver medallist. It’s a good thing, because the two are destined to be linked forever after what Brazier did over 800 meters on Friday evening at Hayward Field.

Just 19 years old, the Texas A&M freshman ripped a stacked field in the men’s 800 final to shreds, producing one of the finest performances in history by an American junior by running a stunning NCAA record of 1:43.55. With apologies to Alan Webb and his 3:53.43 mile, not since Ryun ran 1:44.9 to break the world record in the half mile exactly 50 years ago today (6/10/1966) has an American teenager produced a mid-distance performance to rival what Brazier did today (LetsRun.com stat guru John Kellogg says Brazier’s time today is equivalent to 3:49.36 in the mile (3:32.33 in the 1500)).

Brazier celebrates his historic run

Brazier celebrates his historic run

The world lies at Brazier’s feet: anything is possible. A berth on the U.S. Olympic team. A spot in the Olympic final. Dare we say more?

Those are possibilities, not expectations. Brazier just finished his first year in college and still isn’t even sure if he’ll run the U.S. Olympic Trials – he’s deciding between that and the World U20 Championships in Poland. But while it seems absurd to suggest that Brazier could medal in Rio this summer, consider this: he just ran the third-fastest time in the world this year, and the fastest by an American by .65 of a second. And an American, Boris Berian has won the World Indoors and Prefontaine Classic this year.

That’s all in the future, though. No matter what Brazier does later this summer, no one who watched it live will ever forget this race, the moment Brazier arrived as a world-class 800-meter runner. It was a performance that sent the Hayward Field crowd of 12,244 into a frenzy as the track-mad spectators tried to make sense of the time that flashed on the scoreboard in front of them.

Yes, a collegiate runner just ran 1:43.55. Yes, he’s a 19-year-old true freshman. Yes, it’s okay if you lose your minds.

World, Donavan Brazier has officially arrived.

The Race

Though Brazier was the star of the show, there were actually eight men in the highly-anticipated NCAA final, with Brazier, Mississippi State’s Brandon McBride and BYU’s Shaquille Walker (both 1:44 men) all looking great in Wednesday’s prelims. This evening, those three men all got out hard on the first turn and battled for the lead, with McBride ultimately taking control just before 200 meters (24.10). McBride kept the pace quick for the second 200, hitting halfway in 50.35 with Brazier and Walker on his tail. By 600 (1:16.37), McBride and Brazier had a slight gap on Walker in third and they began to extend it around the final turn, Brazier glued onto McBride’s shoulder.

The final turn

The final turn

Brazier passed McBride coming off the turn and put a meter on him, then two, then five. He had just played sit and kick on a 1:44 guy after coming through 400 in 50 seconds, and it was working. Brazier kept pumping his arms all the way to the line, stopping the clock at a ridiculous 1:43.55. McBride, the 2014 champion, ran a phenomenal race and with his time of 1:44.50 (a new pb, previous pb of 1:44.63), he would have won every other NCAA 800 final in history. He just had the misfortune of running against a prodigy. Walker wound up third in 1:45.17 with Penn State’s Isaiah Harris (another true freshman) taking fourth in 1:45.76.

On any other day, the performances of McBride and Harris would be worthy of their own headlines. But they were crushed by the brilliant Brazier, just like everyone else in today’s race.

A League of His Own: Clayton Murphy Destroys the Field Over the Final 100 to Win NCAA 1500 Title in Super Fast 3:36.38

 Email this page

2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

June 8, 2016 to June 11, 2016
Hayward Field, Eugene, OR

By LetsRun.com
June 10, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — Clayton Murphy made clear today at Hayward Field that he’s the finest 1500-meter runner in the NCAA, and by some margin. The Akron junior turned what was expected to be a close race into a laugher over the final 100 meters, pulling away from Washington’s Izaic Yorks, the NCAA leader on time in 2016, and Virginia’s Henry Wynne, the NCAA indoor mile champ, clocking a blazing 3:36.38 despite windy conditions. Murphy now has an outdoor title to go with the indoor 800 title he claimed in March and he’s a serious threat to make the U.S. Olympic team this summer in whatever event he runs (he’s still debating between the 800 and the 1500, though he doesn’t have the 3:36.20 1500 Olympic standard yet). Yorks, who pushed the pace in the middle stages of the race, was second in 3:38.06 with indoor mile champ Wynne third in 3:38.35.

The Race
Given both Murphy and Penn State’s Brannon Kidder have run 1:45 for 800, either Wynne or Yorks was expected to push the pace in this one and Wynne did just that, moving to the front from the gun and towing the field through a quick 56.8 first 400. At that point, Yorks was right on his shoulder with Murphy tucked in behind them. Yorks took over at 500m and even though the pace slowed, it was still hot and the field began to string out behind him. By 800 meters (1:56.2), the top four — Yorks, Wynne, Oregon’s Sam Prakel and Murphy — were beginning to separate from the field as Kidder struggled to hold on in fifth and at the bell, it was those four still together with Kidder about four meters back.

Yorks and Wynne began an extended kick at that point, and at 1200 (2:53.6, 57.4 for the last 400), they were starting to open up a gap on Prakel and Murphy. Wynne passed Yorks for the lead midway down the backstretch and with 200 to go, Murphy was five meters behind them. Had the milers done enough to drop the 800 champ?

No. Despite the furious pace, Murphy closed the gap on the final turn with relative ease and took the lead coming off the Bowerman Curve. Within seconds, it was over as he cruised away from his rivals, the smoothness of his form belying the speed at which he was moving. Murphy closed in 55.84 for his final 400 — no small feat in a 3:36 race — and looked capable of more had he been challenged in the home straight (some competition may have helped him achieve the Olympic standard of 3:36.20, which he missed by just .18). He won by a ton in the end — 1.68 seconds — as Yorks outkicked Wynne for runner-up honors. Kidder ran down Prakel over the final 300 for fourth in his final collegiate race.

Full NCAA Men’s Recap: Jarrion Lawson Pulls Off the 100-200-LJ Triple, King Ches Wins #15, Mason Ferlic Dominates 2800m of Steeple and Florida Claims the Team Title

 Email this page

2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

June 8, 2016 to June 11, 2016
Hayward Field, Eugene, OR

by LetsRun.com
June 10, 2016

The 2016 NCAA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships came to a close Friday night with a performance for the ages by Donavan Brazier, as he shattered Jim Ryun’s collegiate 800m record on its 50th anniversary by running a US-leading 1:43.55. We recap that separatelyhere.

An hour previously, Clayton Murphy ran a US leader of his own, an impressive 3:36.38 1500, which we recap separately here.

We recap the rest of the meet below with the distance action first where Mason Ferlic of Michigan dominated the steeple to win his first NCAA crown and Oregon’s Edward Cheserek held off a tough challenge to win his 13th (15 including relays) NCAA crown.

Elsewhere on the track, Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas created history of his own, pulling off the Jesse Owens 100/200/long jump triple, Randall Cunningham II won the high jump, and Florida piled up points to win the team title: AP: Jarrion Lawson matches Jesse Owens and wins three events, but Gators win NCAA track and field title .

Men’s 5000: No One Has Won More NCAA Titles Than Edward Cheserek

Cheserek celebrates #15

Cheserek celebrates #15

No track and field athlete has won more NCAA titles than Oregon junior Edward Cheserek as tonight Cheserek was able to sprint past Stanford’s Sean McGorty to win his record-tying 15th NCAA title, tying UTEP’s Suleiman Nyambui for the most ever.

Cheserek closed in 57.07 over the final 400 to win in 13:25.59, as McGorty was second (13:26.10) with Patrick Tiernan of Villanova third (13:27.07).

The Race

ACC champ Thomas Curtin got the honest pace started as he led the field through 800 in 2:09. Then it was Villanova’s Patrick Tiernan who took over the pacing duties, The Aussie, who pushed the pace relentlessly in cross country trying to break Cheserek, would lead the race until 4k (1600 was reached in 4:20 and 3200 in 8:40). Cheserek moved into the lead briefly at 4k but McGorty wanted to have the lead and he eventually took it with 600 meters remaining.

At the bell, it was a three-person race for the win. As the runners ran down the backstretch, McGorty still led with Cheserek behind him and Tiernan behind Cheserek. Midway down the back stretch, it briefly looked as if Cheserek might get boxed as Tiernan tried to move up on the outside. But Chesrek saw the danger and made his move, spurting to the outside into the lead past McGorty.

But this wasn’t a repeat of the 10k on Wednesday where the race was instantly over. McGorty hung close for most of the final turn as Cheserek repeatedly looked over his shoulder. Only as the turn was ending, did Cheserek’s 2-3 meter gap really start to widen. With 80 to go, the race seemed to be over as Cheserek had some real daylight on McGorty who was soon nearly passed by Tiernan.

The final trun

The final trun

But as McGorty started to battle Tiernan he came back on Chesrek a little bit during the final 50. Victory never really became in doubt for Cheserek but this certainly was not a cake walk for King Ches, who by our count turned his head at least 10 times (we think it was 11) over the final 200 to make sure he was going to win.

Behind the top 3 there was a battle for the fourth spot which was won by Curtin in 13:27.54. Curtin’s last lap of 57.45 wasn’t too far off of Cheserek’s. A pair of freshman finished fifth and sixth as Wisconsin’s redshirt freshmanMorgan McDonald was fifth in 13:29.79 and Stanford true-freshman Grant Fisher was sixth in 13:30.14, a time that moved him to the #3 all time on the US junior list. Canadian junior record holder Justyn Knight, the Syracuse sophomore, started the last lap in fourth but blew up and ran a 70.40 and failed to score as he ran 13:40.40.




regon entered Friday’s final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship meet at Hayward Field in good position to win its third consecutive national title.

Turns out, the Ducks didn’t have nearly as much as they needed.

Edward Cheserek and Devon Allen both won individual championships and combined to score 30 points overall for fourth-place Oregon, but it was Florida that overwhelmed the field with a 62-point performance to win its third title in the past five years.

Arkansas, backed by Jarrion Lawson’s victories in the 100, 200 and long jump, was second with 56 points, Texas A&M was third with 50, and the Ducks had 48.

“Job well done,” Oregon coach Robert Johnson said. “We fought, we did what we were supposed to do, we went out there and competed our best and we came up short. We didn’t give it away, Florida came in and they took it.”

The Ducks opened the day in first place with 19 points and scored 20 more on the victories by Cheserek and Allen.

Cheserek’s victory in the 5,000 meters was one for the history books.

The junior tied the NCAA record with his 15th NCAA title, equalling the number won by former UTEP distance star Suleiman Nyambui between 1979-82.

Along with his victory in the 10,000 on Wednesday, Cheserek also became the first to win NCAA titles in the 10,000 and 5,000 in back-to-back seasons since Nyambui recorded three-straight distance sweeps between 1980-82.

“I think it means a lot, but I’ve got one more year to go, so I just want to keep getting more and more,” said Cheserek, who won his 5,000 in 13 minutes, 25.59 seconds.

It was a race with little drama, as Cheserek settled into second place behind Villanova’s Patrick Tiernan until moving to the front with 1,000 to go. Stanford’s Sean McGorty took over the lead with 600 left, but Cheserek started to kick on the backstretch of the final lap and held off McGorty (13:26.10) for the victory.

“I knew I didn’t want to take the lead with a long way to go,” Cheserek said. “I was just waiting until the last 200 meters to run it as fast as I could and I just looked back and was relaxed to see that those guys weren’t coming.”

Allen’s win in the 110 hurdles capped his return from a knee injury that stole his 2015 season.

The 2014 NCAA and U.S. champion won convincingly in 13.50 for his second national title in as many attempts.

“I was hoping for it,” the redshirt sophomore said. “That’s one of the things when you sit out a year, you’re like ‘Man, I gotta get back to where I was before.’ To get back to that level is a good feeling. I’ve been doing a lot to get back and doing everything right, so I’m excited.”

The problem for the Ducks was, besides Allen and Cheserek, they didn’t get much else on Friday.

Junior Marcus Chambers finished fourth in the 400 in 45.27 and Sam Prakel was fifth in the 1,500 in 3:40.84 for Oregon’s other nine points. Blake Haney, third in the NCAA finals last season, finished 11th in the 1,500 and didn’t score. Jake Leingang was 18th in the 5,000.

“I think I executed pretty well, I just didn’t have it at the end,” said Chambers, who was the NCAA runner-up last season. “I’ve got some work to do before (the Olympic Trials), so I’m going to get back to the drawing board on Monday, and get to it. I’ll be ready for that.”

Prakel was pleased with his finish and his first all-American performance outdoors. The redshirt sophomore made the final as a freshman but missed last season recovering from an injury.

“I was a volunteer at this meet last year, so it’s been a good year and I’ve improved a lot,” Prakel said.

Florida got a boost when LSU sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake pulled up with an injury in the 100 and then missed the 200, ending the Tigers’ title hopes.

The Gators had a 1-2 finish in the 400 hurdles, and had second-place finishes in the 400, triple jump and 4x400 relay.

“We just had to be perfect,” Johnson said. “(Florida) did what we usually do, and that’s have a phenomenal last day. What they did in the 400 and the triple jump are huge points for them, and I guess the nail in the coffin was in that one-two sweep in the 400 hurdles. I couldn’t be happier and prouder for (Florida coach) Mike Holloway. He’s someone I’ve looked up to for a long time in this sport.”

For the Ducks, it’s back to the drawing board.

“Definitely a valiant effort by our kids,” Johnson said. “Devon and Edward held form, Marcus had a good race, and that was all our bullets.”




Inline image 1


EUGENE – Devon Allen and Edward Cheserek did all they could Friday, and Marcus Chambers and Sam Prakel ran good races.

But it wasn't enough. Not close.

Oregon's bid for a third consecutive men's NCAA Outdoor Track & Field championship got buried by a Florida avalanche before a crowd of 12,244 on a cool, occasionally wet day at Hayward Field.

The Gators took control of the meet when Eric Futch and TJ Holmes went 1-2 in the 400 hurdles, and rolled to 62 points and the NCAA title.

Arkansas was second with 56 and Texas A&M was third with 50. The Ducks came in fourth with 48.

"I would imagine they're a little disappointed," UO coach Robert Johnson said of the athletes on his men's team. "Of course, that is just the mantra of who we are."

The UO men have been accustomed to collecting national championships. They had won four successive NCAA track & field titles — two indoors and two outdoors — coming into this one.

Allen and Cheserek are two of the college level's most dominant individuals, and they played their part.

Allen blew away the field en route to winning his second college title in the 110 hurdles, clocking a time of 13.50 seconds into a headwind while leaving a trail of flattened hurdles in his wake.

Kentucky's Nick Anderson was a distant second in 13.67.

"Not super clean, but it doesn't really matter," Allen said. "First, second, third, fourth is what we're going for. I'm excited that I got first."

Allen missed the 2015 season with a knee injury after winning NCAA and USA Track & Field national titles two years ago as a freshman. If he isn't all the way back, he certainly looked the part.

"When I run, I always think I'm the favorite," Allen said. "My freshman year, even though people didn't think I was going to be the favorite, I felt like that. I just go out there and try to win every time."

Next up for Allen, the Olympic trials, July 1-10, also at Hayward Field.

Cheserek ran a gritty race to win the 5,000 in 13:25.59. It's his 15th NCAA championship, but it wasn't easy.

Villanova's Patrick Tiernan and Stanford's Sam McGorty made Cheserek grind before the UO runner finally took charge on the last lap's home straight before the roaring crowd.

McGorty was second in 13:26.10. Tiernan was third.

Cheserek has been hampered by hamstring and calf issues through spring, and was 0-2 in races at Hayward Field during the regular season. He said after winning Wednesday's 10,000 he estimated himself at only about 90 percent.

That was enough. Twice.

"What do you say about him?" Johnson asked.

At some point, superlatives aren't big enough to do the job.

Oregon's Edward Cheserek is 'king' again, winning NCAA record-tying 15th title

Oregon's Edward Cheserek is 'king' again, winning NCAA record-tying 15th title

Cheserek won the NCAA outdoor title at 5,000 meters Friday at Hayward Field, outlasting Stanford's Sean McGorty.

Chambers took fourth in the 400 and Prakel was fifth in the 1,500. Four of the six Ducks in action on Friday scored.

Had all six contributed to the team total, it almost certainly wouldn't have been enough. There simply wasn't a big enough supporting cast to back up the program's heavy hitters.

And nobody was going to catch Florida.

"They did what we usually do here at this meet," Johnson said. "They had a phenomenal last day."

Arkansas senior Jarrion Lawson had a monster meet, winning the long jump on Thursday, the 100 and 200 on Friday, and contributing a leg of the Razorbacks' third-place 4x100 relay.

Texas A&M freshman Donavan Brazier won the 800 in a sensational time of 1:43.55. It broke what the NCAA called the all-time collegiate best by Kansas star Jim Ryun of 1:44.3, hand-timed in 1966.

It also bettered the time of 1:44.55 run by Julius Achon of George Mason in 1996 that Track & Field News listed as the collegiate record.

The Ducks came in fourth, which not so long ago would have been something to celebrate. Perspective is a tricky thing.




Inline image 1


EUGENE – Devon Allen and Edward Cheserek did all they could Friday, and Marcus Chambers and Sam Prakel ran good races.

But it wasn't enough. Not close.

Oregon's bid for a third consecutive men's NCAA Outdoor Track & Field championship got buried by a Florida avalanche before a crowd of 12,244 on a cool, occasionally wet day at Hayward Field.

The Gators took control of the meet when Eric Futch and TJ Holmes went 1-2 in the 400 hurdles, and rolled to 62 points and the NCAA title.

Arkansas was second with 56 and Texas A&M was third with 50. The Ducks came in fourth with 48.

"I would imagine they're a little disappointed," UO coach Robert Johnson said of the athletes on his men's team. "Of course, that is just the mantra of who we are."

The UO men have been accustomed to collecting national championships. They had won four successive NCAA track & field titles — two indoors and two outdoors — coming into this one.

Allen and Cheserek are two of the college level's most dominant individuals, and they played their part.

Allen blew away the field en route to winning his second college title in the 110 hurdles, clocking a time of 13.50 seconds into a headwind while leaving a trail of flattened hurdles in his wake.

Kentucky's Nick Anderson was a distant second in 13.67.

"Not super clean, but it doesn't really matter," Allen said. "First, second, third, fourth is what we're going for. I'm excited that I got first."

Allen missed the 2015 season with a knee injury after winning NCAA and USA Track & Field national titles two years ago as a freshman. If he isn't all the way back, he certainly looked the part.

"When I run, I always think I'm the favorite," Allen said. "My freshman year, even though people didn't think I was going to be the favorite, I felt like that. I just go out there and try to win every time."

Next up for Allen, the Olympic trials, July 1-10, also at Hayward Field.

Cheserek ran a gritty race to win the 5,000 in 13:25.59. It's his 15th NCAA championship, but it wasn't easy.

Villanova's Patrick Tiernan and Stanford's Sam McGorty made Cheserek grind before the UO runner finally took charge on the last lap's home straight before the roaring crowd.

McGorty was second in 13:26.10. Tiernan was third.

Cheserek has been hampered by hamstring and calf issues through spring, and was 0-2 in races at Hayward Field during the regular season. He said after winning Wednesday's 10,000 he estimated himself at only about 90 percent.

That was enough. Twice.

"What do you say about him?" Johnson asked.

At some point, superlatives aren't big enough to do the job.

Oregon's Edward Cheserek is 'king' again, winning NCAA record-tying 15th title

Oregon's Edward Cheserek is 'king' again, winning NCAA record-tying 15th title

Cheserek won the NCAA outdoor title at 5,000 meters Friday at Hayward Field, outlasting Stanford's Sean McGorty.

Chambers took fourth in the 400 and Prakel was fifth in the 1,500. Four of the six Ducks in action on Friday scored.

Had all six contributed to the team total, it almost certainly wouldn't have been enough. There simply wasn't a big enough supporting cast to back up the program's heavy hitters.

And nobody was going to catch Florida.

"They did what we usually do here at this meet," Johnson said. "They had a phenomenal last day."

Arkansas senior Jarrion Lawson had a monster meet, winning the long jump on Thursday, the 100 and 200 on Friday, and contributing a leg of the Razorbacks' third-place 4x100 relay.

Texas A&M freshman Donavan Brazier won the 800 in a sensational time of 1:43.55. It broke what the NCAA called the all-time collegiate best by Kansas star Jim Ryun of 1:44.3, hand-timed in 1966.

It also bettered the time of 1:44.55 run by Julius Achon of George Mason in 1996 that Track & Field News listed as the collegiate record.

The Ducks came in fourth, which not so long ago would have been something to celebrate. Perspective is a tricky thing.




Oregon’s Hayward magic vanishes

 

 


JUNE 10, 2016



 

 

The baton slipped, the sobs echoed, and with cold rain drumming in the background, the home team made a hasty retreat.

A miserable day at Hayward Field, site of so much glory for the Ducks, somehow turned into Oregon’s Waterloo.

The Ducks’ shot at a second straight women’s title dissolved Thursday at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Catastrophe struck more than once, leaving coach Robert Johnson at a loss to describe Oregon’s misfortune.

A question about the Ducks’ rotten luck elicited only a rueful smile as Johnson turned and walked away. It wasn’t his finest moment, nor was it Oregon’s finest day.

For a team that wins routinely on the track, the Ducks have been followed by an inordinate amount of drama this season. Some is beyond their control, and some is self-inflicted.

Certainly, Oregon caught a bad break when star sprinter Hannah Cunliffe pulled up lame in her 100-meter heat. Her health had been a subject of speculation after she failed to qualify for the NCAA meet in the 200, and her leg of the 4x100 relay didn’t dispel the concern.

Running the anchor, freshman Ariana Washington reached back to grab the baton from Cunliffe and heard some alarming words. Cunliffe, who usually flies around the Bowerman Curve as if propelled by a slingshot, needed her to slow down.

“That happened at regionals, so I knew something must have been bothering her,” Washington said.

An hour later, Cunliffe was back on the track to run the 100, where she was among the form-chart favorites. After an awkward start, she pulled up and walked to the finish.

Cunliffe’s sobs were audible as she made her way through the mixed zone toward the medical tent. Her injury is a killer for the Ducks, who were counting on big points in both the 100 and the 4x100

“I just hope she gets better,” Washington said. “She may or may not recover in time for Saturday, but we shall see.”

Oregon’s relay, once the most formidable in the NCAA, now looks like a shell of itself. There’s no Jasmine Todd, whose departure from the team remains a mystery. With Cunliffe potentially out as well, it’s fair to ask whether the Ducks can possibly overcome the loss of two top sprinters.

“Um, yeah,” Washington said, a little less than convincingly. “I think we’ll be fine. No matter what happens, everyone trusts their marks, and it’s my job to take it home. I’ll try my best.”

The Ducks haven’t waved the white flag, not officially. Their day had a few bright spots, including a fifth-place finish for Brittany Mann, qualifying marks for Washington in the 100 and 200 and Annie Leblanc’s PR in the 1,500.

Oregon will rack up some points in Saturday’s finals, but with Arkansas already out to a big lead, it’s tough to see the Ducks catching up.

“If I’m being really honest, I don’t think we have enough bullets, but we’re going to go out here and see what happens,” Johnson said.

The Ducks’ comeback chances took another hit when they flubbed the handoff on the 4x400 relay, knocking them out of a final they were supposed to make. It was a lousy ending to a lousy day, and maybe the last gasp for Oregon’s title hopes.

Oregon didn’t enter as the favorite, so it’s not an upset if the Ducks don’t win. The form chart had them finishing second, though, well within the margin of error when accounting for Hayward magic.

There was none of that Thursday. As a result, it appears a tumultuous season will end without the satisfaction of a championship.

The Ducks have had several departures from their women’s team, none acknowledged or explained. Johnson had been displeased with media coverage, as he displayed by walking away from a harmless question.

Those things are easy to overlook when the team is winning championships. And even though the Ducks have had a trying season, it seemed possible that they might pull everything together and do exactly that, again, on their home track.

A repeat for the women’s title now appears unlikely. Unless they can pull off a miracle, the Ducks will look back at Thursday and wonder if any of their misfortune could have been avoided.

Of all the great days they’ve had at Hayward Field, this one turned into a mess.






Inline image 1


Track and Field championships ended, a rainbow appeared above Hayward Field. It was the product of steady rain falling over the facility, but also light breaking through clouds as the sun set in the West.

The contradiction of the weather was apt, given the day just experienced by the defending NCAA champion Ducks. Sunlight was provided by a series of personal bests from UO athletes, but like the rain falling over the meet, Oregon’s title hopes were dampened by some missteps over the course of the day.

The UO women came out of the day with four points toward their team score, thanks to a second straight fifth-place finish by Brittany Mann. She broke her own school record with a throw of 57 feet, 4 3/4 inches, scoring at the NCAA meet for the third year in a row.

The Ducks also saw Ariana Washington and Deajah Stevens establish PRs in the 200, and Washington advanced to Saturday’s finals as the top qualifier in the 100. Sasha Wallace provided another school record while advancing in the 100 hurdles, and the UO 4x100 relay reached the final.

But that group could be without sophomore Hannah Cunliffe on Saturday, after she pulled up and didn’t advance in her 100 prelim. And in the final event of the afternoon, the Ducks dropped the baton in the 4x400, eliminating them from that event.

“A tough day for the Ducks,” UO coach Robert Johnson had to acknowledge afterward.

It didn’t start out that way. The quartet of Danielle Barbian, Stevens, Cunliffe and Washington posted the fourth-fastest preliminary time in the 4x100, while team title favorite Arkansas finished ninth in qualifying, missing the final. Then, senior Annie Leblanc qualified for the 1,500 final, after barely missing finals at both the 2015 Outdoor and 2016 Indoor championships.

A short time later, Wallace ran the 100 hurdles in 12.95 seconds, becoming the first UO woman ever to reach the final in that event. She’s been pushed all season by teammate Alaysha Johnson, who also qualified for the NCAA meet.

“There is for sure some good competition going on there,” Wallace said. “Up through my junior year I had to be my own competition, so it’s great having someone on the team to compete with.”

The next event was the 100, however, and while Washington led the field by running 11.18, Cunliffe pulled up and didn’t advance. Washington wasn’t done, staying on the shoulder of Stevens in their 200 heat as the Ducks went 1-2, with Stevens crossing in 22.32 and Washington finishing in 22.61.

“With Deajah in my heat it kind of puts me in a comfort zone,” Washington said. “So I told her, I pull you, you pull me, so no matter what we’ll get one and two.”

Their 1-2 finish provided some of the sunlight that shined on the Ducks on Thursday.

“That time Deajah ran in the prelims of the 200 was a huge PR,” Johnson said. “Ari showed up well today in both the 100 and 200. So all those things are good.”

Both ran well enough to exceed pre-meet projections for how they might score Saturday. But without Cunliffe or the 4x400 team, the Ducks won’t be in great shape to win another team title.

“Not if I’m being really honest,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we have enough bullets. But we’re going to go out there and see what happens.”

The competitors Saturday will try to match the fortitude demonstrated by Mann in the shot put. By the time her competition began, Cunliffe’s 100 preliminary had been run. Mann knew the Ducks’ fate was dire.

She responded with her school record of 57-4 3/4, on the fifth throw of her series. That provided four team points, on a day team favorite Arkansas overcame a couple of slips by piling up 26 points on the strength of wins by Dominique Scott in the 10,000 and Alexis Weeks in the pole vault.

“The biggest thing is, one person goes down, the next person picks them up,” Mann said. “That’s what we do as a team. Stuff happens, so I was just trying to do as much as I could to even it out.”

Mann finished fifth for the second year in a row, after placing seventh as a freshman in 2014. She was rooted on as always by an adoring Hayward Field crowd.

“It was awesome,” Mann said. “They announced my name, and everybody cheered a little bit louder, which was kind of cool. But it’s always fun to compete here. We really do have the best fans in the world.”


EUGENE – The Oregon Ducks' chances to win the NCAA women's track & field title unraveled Thursday on a misty afternoon and evening at Hayward Field.

Oregon sprinter Hannah Cunliffe, already gimpy with an apparent hamstring issue, pulled up in her semifinal heat of the 100 meters.

Cunliffe, projected to finish second by Track & Field News in the 100 and a member of the UO 4x100 relay, walked to the finish line. The 4x100 also had been projected to finish second.

She could – in theory -- come back for Saturday's 4x100 final. The Ducks qualified with the day's fourth-fastest time.

"I don't know what's going with Hannah Cunliffe," UO coach Robert Johnson said. "You saw her pull up there. They rushed her off, she came through here, and I haven't talked to the doctors since then."

Bringing her back Saturday, though, might be tempting both fate and the balky hamstring.

And it's probably academic anyway, because the Ducks closed Thursday's competition before 9,027 with a faulty exchange in the 4x400 between Alaysha Johnson and Deajah Stevens that ended with the baton on the track.

Track & Field News had projected Arkansas to win the meet with 60 points, and Oregon to finish second with 55.

But that was with a relatively healthy Cunliffe and the UO 4x400 placing fifth.

"If I'm being really honest, I don't think we have enough bullets," Robert Johnson said. "But we're going to go out here and see what happens."

The Ducks picked a fifth-place finish and four team points from shot putter Brittany Mann. Mann threw 57 feet, 4 ¾ inches to break her own school record of 56-6 ¾ set last year.

And they had some good efforts in the qualifying heats.

Ariana Washington qualified in both the 100 and 200. Her 100 time of 11.18 was the day's best. Stevens had the top qualifying time in the 200 of 22.32.

Defending national champion Raevyn Rogers got through in the 800. Ditto for Annie Leblanc in the 1,500.

Sasha Wallace parlayed a great start into a first-place finish in the second heat of 100 hurdles in 12.95 seconds. Her time broke Alaysha Johnson's school record of 12.97 set two weeks ago.

But Oregon had some tough breaks too. Brooke Feldmeier had the fastest non-qualifying time in the 800. Johnson didn't get through the 100-hurdle preliminaries.

Toughest of all was the apparent injury to Cunliffe, who doesn't seem to have begun the day completely healthy. She didn't look her normally explosive self on the third leg of the 4x100, the day's first running event.

Washington, the relay's anchor, was waiting to take the baton from Cunliffe.

"I heard her say, 'Slow down,'" Washington said. "That happened at regionals. So I knew that something must have been bothering her. I just hope she gets better. She may or may not recover in time for Saturday. We shall see."

Cunliffe was sobbing as she came through the mixed zone after the 100.

It's been a tough two weeks for the UO women.

Sprinter/jumper Jasmine Todd, a member of Team USA at last year's World Outdoor Championships in Beijing, left the Ducks for unexplained reasons during the West Regional Preliminary meet two weeks ago in Lawrence, Kansas.

Cunliffe, apparently bothered by the hamstring, failed to qualify for this meet in the regional's 200 meters.

While the Ducks have had their issues, the University of Portland Pilots continue to take advantage of limited opportunities.

On Wednesday, UP senior Reid Buchanan upset the form charts with an unexpected fifth-place finish in the men's 10,000 final.

On Thursday, it was UP sophomore Lauren LaRocco's turn in the women's 10,000. Running a smart, tactical race, LaRocco stayed near the lead and in striking distance for most of the way. Then closed hard to finish fourth in 32:47.30.

Like Buchanan, LaRocco didn't figure on anybody's form chart. And like Buchanan, it was only the third 10,000 she ever had run on the track.

"Reid definitely set the standard and got me excited for today," LaRocco said. "He said he was going to just stick his nose in it."

She adopted the same strategy.

"I knew I was ready and I could run any kind of race, go out fast, or sit and kick," LaRoco said. "My goal was to place top five, top eight."

EUGENE — Claudia Francis is competing from almost 3,000 miles away, but the Florida senior is no stranger to Hayward Field.

The senior anchored the Florida 4x400 relay team to win its heat Thursday night at the NCAA Track & Field championships. Individually, Francis placed third in the first heat of the 400 meter hurdles. Her time of 56.79 seconds proved to be enough to earn her a spot in the finals.

She'll compete for both titles Saturday evening and she'll be doing it on a familiar track. Francis spent three years with the Ducks before transferring to Florida at the start of last season. Her times have improved, as has her confidence, since the shift to the Southeast.

"I'm definitely much faster," she said after the relay. "I feel like my running form is better. I'm more focused."

Francis' departure from Eugene is one of many exits the Oregon program has seen over the last two years from women athletes. While it's unclear what Francis' main motivations were to transfer, Florida coach Mike Holloway didn't ask any questions. He was happy to have her in the mix.

"I have no idea what went on here," Holloway said. "We never talked about that. All she ever said to me is that it just didn't work out. Basically we asked her to trust what we do. We asked her to do certain things as far as getting her fitness together, changing her diet. Once I figured out how to train her, once I figured out what kind of athlete she was, she started showing signs of being a great one for us."

The athleticism was apparent in both races, especially the relay. Francis secured the baton in third place on the last leg. But as she sprinted down the straightaway, no one was in front of her at the finish line. It was the fastest she's ever run, she said.

But while the relay has always been a part of her routine, hurdles are anything but natural for Francis. The senior hadn't competed in the event before this year. In two days, she'll be running with the sport's best for a shot at the national title.

"Last summer she asked me about the 400 hurdles and I thought she was crazy at first," Holloway said. "She said, 'Coach, it's been my dream,' and I said, 'All right, let's give it a try.' It worked out pretty good."

Despite her bid in the final, Francis still calls the hurdles a "learning experience."

"It's exciting and frustrating at the same time," she said. "It's something new, but at the same time it takes time to learn new techniques. I'm trusting my training and staying focused and positive. It'll all fall into place."

Francis will run in the 400-meter hurdles final at 4:57 p.m. Saturday. The 4x400-meter relay final will end the championships later that day at 5:51 p.m.

EUGENE -- The NCAA Track & Field Championship took two dramatic turns for the Oregon women's team Thursday at Hayward Field.

First, junior hurdler Sasha Wallace won her semifinal heat of the 100 hurdles in 12.95 seconds.

She broke the school record set earlier this season by teammate Alaysha Johnson of 12.97 seconds. Johnson was also in that semi, and did not qualify for the final.

Moments later, Oregon sprinter Hannah Cunliffe pulled up in her semifinal heat of the 100.

Cunliffe apparently was injured two weeks ago in the NCAA regional preliminaries in Lawrence, Kansas. She failed to qualify for the NCAA 200 there. The Ducks do not discuss injuries, but some believe Cunliffe strained a hamstring.

She appeared to aggravate the injury in Thursday's 100.

Cunliffe walked to the finish line, but obviously did not advance to the final. She was in tears after the race.

She had been projected to finish second in the 100 by Track & Field News.




Inline image 2



EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon track and field’s deep ties to the decade of the Sixties and its progressive movement will be celebrated when the Ducks hit the track for the NCAA Outdoor championships later this week.

UO competitors will be adorned in tie-dye uniforms featuring silhouettes of legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman and peerless Ducks distance runner Steve Prefontaine. The uniforms include Nike’s “AeroBlade” technology that reduces wind resistance, and are the same model that will be worn by the United States team in Rio in August.

The NCAA Outdoor meet begins Wednesday at Hayward Field with men’s competition, including five field event finals, the 10,000-meter final, the first day of the decathlon and preliminaries on the track. The decathlon wraps up Thursday, which features the women’s preliminaries along with six event finals.

The men’s competition wraps up Friday, and the women’s meet concludes Saturday. The Ducks swept the team titles in the 2015 NCAA Outdoor meet, and are projected to be in the thick of the races again this week.

The Sixties were a seminal time for UO track and field. Bowerman coached the “Men of Oregon” to NCAA titles in 1962, 1964 and 1965. In 1964, he co-founded the company that would become Nike with one of this distance runners, Phil Knight. Later that decade, Bowerman helped popularize jogging among the general public in the U.S.

In 1967, the UO football program moved from Hayward Field to Autzen Stadium, leaving Oregon’s track and field programs as the lone tenants of what has become one of the sport’s cathedrals. And in the fall of 1969, Prefontaine enrolled at the university, for which he would win seven individual NCAA Championships over this four years.


EUGENE — Greg Skipper, clutching a handle connecting a thin wire to a 16-pound silver steel ball, enters the throwing circle.

Four steps bring him to the back of the ring before he starts the ball's momentum, swinging back and forth, faster and faster around his head. Five sharp spins forward and the weight releases.

Thud.

The steel sphere bludgeons the earth as ground splashes up. The routine of just more than 20 seconds has driven Skipper through most of life.

The Oregon senior finished third in Wednesday's hammer throw competition at the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Eugene's Hayward Field. Skipper, in his last collegiate meet, notched a career best throw on his fifth attempt — 234 feet, 2 inches.

"Actually I was hoping for a little further, but it was good," Skipper said. "It was really close."

The hometown fans went into a frenzy as the hammer landed, none more so than Greg's dad, Scott. Both Skippers jumped as the hammer dropped. A medley of fist bumps, high fives, hollers and claps echoed between father and son and the Hayward Field faithful.

"My dad is my best friend," Greg Skipper said. "I can remember way back to third, fourth grade when I started throwing. He was always there. In high school we were lifting partners ... I can't say enough about my dad. He's my best friend."

Scott Skipper, a former Ducks football player, and his son share striking similarities — muscular build, crew-cut hair, friendly demeanor. Scott's antics even matched those of his son Wednesday afternoon. Every time Greg navigated the motions of his ring routine, Scott would match, swaying against the fence outside the field as most patrons comfortably sat 10 yards back on the bleachers.

"People don't realize that throwing is like a dance," Scott said. "You have to have rhythm. If you have good rhythm and you stay smooth, you can throw really far. I get the same rhythm when he goes. I've watched him so many times. It's been probably 50,000 to 60,000 throws. I have no idea. You just feel that rhythm — it's like boom, boom, boom. You lock in. You know when it's going to be good."

The rhythm's beat is never silent for Greg.  

"One time his senior year in high school he said, 'Hey dad, do you realize I've gone 17 weeks straight without a day off?' I was like, well maybe we better take a day off," Scott said.

But even as his college career ended Wednesday, it's still not time to relax. Although his best mark sits shy of Olympic standards, Greg plans to compete in July's Olympic trials, hosted in Eugene, if given the opportunity.

He plans to train the rest of the summer, not ready to let go of the sport that's guided him through life.

"I'll see what I can do at the trials, see if I can make some money and support myself," Greg said.

"I think the Olympic trials, he can have a bigger throw," Scott followed. "It's not over. When I came down today I thought, 'Well, it could be over.' It's not over."

Four steps back and five spins forward. The hammer is unleashed and anticipation sets in. Always hoping the thud is a little farther away.

EUGENE, Ore. — Nobody from the Oregon track and field men’s team dramatically busted the form chart during Wednesday’s opening session of the NCAA Outdoor championship meet at Hayward Field.

That was just fine with UO coach Robert Johnson, on a day when some other contenders for the team title weren’t able to meet expectations.

“We talked last night in our team meeting about just doing what we did to get here,” Johnson said Wednesday, after his Ducks took the first-day lead in the team race with 19 points. “And that would be special, if we could do those things.”

There was no way junior Edward Cheserek could outperform the form chart, but he still managed to put on a show. Cheserek won his third straight 10,000-meter title, in 29 minutes, 9.57 seconds, leading the last kilometer and gapping the competition in the final 200 for his 14th NCAA title, one shy of the national record.

The Ducks also got a second consecutive third-place finish from senior Greg Skipper, the only man to score in the event the last four years in a row. They added points in two other field events, with Cody Danielson taking seventh in the javelin and Cole Walsh tying for seventh in the pole vault.

Skipper finished fourth in the NCAA Outdoor meet in 2013 and 2014, then third each of the last two years. His longest throw Wednesday was his fifth, a personal best of 234 feet, 2 inches.

“Coming out here with this kind of field that we had today and being able to PR in this meet is just amazing, and I just can’t thank everybody at the University of Oregon enough,” Skipper said. “It’s been a great year.”

Oregon’s 19 points are three more than second-place Arkansas, and eight more than third-place Purdue. LSU positioned itself to pick up big points in the sprints finals Friday, but the nation’s top-ranked team entering the meet, Texas A&M, dropped the baton in the 4x100 and didn’t get a point from any of its three pole vaulters, signifiant setbacks.

Favorite status didn’t faze Cheserek a bit. He settled on the rail at the start of his race, just off the leaders. About 2,000 meters in, Shaun Thompson of Duke looked to separate from the pack, but Cheserek jumped to an outside position to keep pace.

With 2,000 to go, Futsum Zienasellassie looked to open up a lead, but Cheserek again responded and stayed on the leader’s shoulder. Then, with a kilometer to go, Cheserek eased in front. He roared through the back stretch on the final lap and then pulled away through the Bowerman Curve before easing up over the last 30 meters as cheers rained down from the grandstand.

“It feels good to come out here and run at home, and to defend the title was great,” said Cheserek, who will run the 5,000 on Friday. “… I always focus one race at a time, so I’ll go back, talk to my coaches and get ready for the next one.”

While Cheserek and Skipper matched their finishes from the 2015 championships, the transfer Danielson and the sophomore Walsh were new contributors for the Ducks this week. Danielson threw the javelin 239-3 and Walsh vaulted 17 feet, 4 1/2 inches to pick up valuable points in the team race.

“Once we get to the meet it’s anybody’s competition, so I went in hoping to place top-three, hoping to win, and that didn’t happen,” Walsh said. “But I think, all things considered, it was a good jump day.”

Those points helped defray other UO entries who didn’t advance from preliminaries Wednesday, including the 4x100 relay — despite running the No. 2 time in UO history, 39.41 — and Devon Allen in the 200 meters. But Allen still can look forward to his signature event, the 110 hurdles in which he won the 2014 NCAA Outdoor title, after being Wednesday’s top qualifier in 13.38.

The Ducks also qualified two entries to the 1,500 final, Blake Haney and Sam Prakel, and Marcus Chambers into the 400 final.

Haney finished fifth in his 1,500 heat and was the last qualifier into the final. Prakel took third in his heat, following his race plan of settling into third and then going wide in the last turn to avoid traffic and risk falling out of the top five.

“It’s a change from practice,” Prakel said. “Practice we just kind of zone in, follow the guy in front of you on the rail. Here, you can’t get boxed in; you’ve got to stay wide on the last turn. I think running more indoors this year helped me with that. Positioning’s even more important indoors, so that translates to outdoors and helps me in prelims.”

Chambers also avoided having to qualify on time, pushing into the second and last automatic qualifying spot in his 400 heat, in 45.28.

“I’m back,” said Chambers, who didn’t qualify for the NCAA Indoor championships over the winter. “Like I’ve always said, when the time comes I know coach Johnson is going to make sure I’m ready to run. So I think I can race with anyone right now, and we’ll see what happens Friday.”





Inline image 1






Inline image 1


Business as Usual: Edward Cheserek Cruises to Third Straight NCAA 10,000 Title

 Email this page

2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

June 8, 2016 to June 11, 2016
Hayward Field, Eugene, OR

By LetsRun.com
June 8, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — Order is restored. Not that things ever went full-Bizarro, but Edward Cheserek, after losing twice during the regular season, returned to his usual title-winning self on Day 1 of the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Wednesday night at Hayward Field, becoming the fourth man in history to claim three straight 10,000-meter titles. That brings his individual haul to 12 (plus two DMR titles); he’ll go for #13 in Friday’s 5,000.

Cheserek took the lead with three laps to go and at the bell it was a six-man race. But no one could match his hard move on the backstretch, and Cheserek closed it out in 57.24 to win easily in 29:09.57 over Northern Arizona’sFutsum Zienasellassie (29:10.68). Arkansas senior Gabe Gonzalez, who was only third at SECs, ran a terrific race to take third in 29:11.09.

Screenshot 2016-06-08 at 10.46.28 PMThe Race

Officially, this race was 10,000 meters, but in reality, it was 2,000. Duke’s Shaun Thompson, who before the race spoke about wanting to hit the Olympic Trials standard of 28:15, did most of the work, but after a 67-second fourth lap, the pace gradually slowed until the leaders hit halfway in a pedestrian 14:45. The nadir came during mile 4 (4:49), which featured a 75-second 15th lap.

At 8 kilometers (23:48), 20 of the 24 starters remained in the lead pack and Zienasellassie had had enough: he dropped a 62.79 as the racing began in earnest.

Yet after running a 67.07 for his next lap, Zienasellassie hit the brakes and moved into lane two, imploring Cheserek, who had stuck to his rival like glue the previous two laps, to assume the lead. Cheserek reluctantly took over, running a 68, and as they hit two to go, he tried to pull the same move, drifting out into lane 2 to try and force the lead back on Zienasellassie. But Zienasellassie was having none of it and Cheserek remained in the front.

Though Cheserek and Zienasellassie were playing games, they were still running fast enough to drop most of the field as it was a six-man race with 800 to go: Cheserek, Zienasellassie, Gonzalez, Colorado’s Pierce Murphy, Portland’s Reid Buchanan and Kentucky’s Jacob Thomas. It was the same group with a lap to go but once Cheserek dropped the hammer at the bell, the pack quickly splintered. Zienasellassie gave chase around the first turn, but Cheserek opened up a gap on the backstretch, even as Zienasellassie began to gap the rest of the field. As he rounded the final turn, Cheserek was untouchable, his lead eight meters. He cruised it in for the win, as Zienasellassie held off a hard-charging Gonzalez for second. Murphy wound up fourth, with Buchanan edging Thomson for fifth.

Lap by lap splits here but note there are some errors in it.

PlAthleteAffiliationTime
1Edward CheserekJROregon29:09.57
2Futsum ZienasellassieSRNorthern Arizona29:10.68
3Gabe GonzalezSRArkansas29:11.09
4Pierce MurphySRColorado29:12.49
5Reid BuchananSRPortland29:13.40
6Jacob ThomsonSOKentucky29:13.73
7Luis VargasSRNorth Carolina St.29:18.40
8Erik PetersonJRButler29:23.48
9Lawrence KipkoechSOCampbell29:24.69
10Colin BennieSOSyracuse29:26.54
11Amon TererSRCampbell29:28.87
12Lane WerleySRUCLA29:29.14
13Luke TraynorJRTulsa29:33.54
14Ben FlanaganSOMichigan29:35.85
15Shaun ThompsonSRDuke29:37.41
16Connor McMillanSOBYU29:40.65
17Reed FischerSODrake29:41.47
18Antibahs KosgeiJRAlabama29:42.89
19Jonathan GreenSOGeorgetown29:44.42
20George ParsonsJRNorth Carolina St.29:48.76
21Charles MathengeSRStephen F. Austin31:11.02
22Ryan RutherfordSRIllinois State31:34.05
23Tyler KingSRWashington32:13.48
Philo GermanoSOSyracuseDNF

 

Quick Take #1: NCAA individual title #12 for Cheserek, who is now the favorite for Friday’s 5,000
With the win, Cheserek joined Washington State’s Gerry Lindgren (1966-68) and John Ngeno (1974-76) and UTEP’s Suleiman Nyambui (1979-82) as the only men to win three NCAA 10,000 titles. If he wins the 5,000, he’ll be five-for-five in NCAA championships this year (six-for-six counting relays), his first undefeated NCAA championships season (he lost the outdoor 5k in ’14 and the indoor 3k in ’15).

Cheserek looked good tonight, good enough to make him the favorite in the 5,000 on Friday. He’ll have to close faster than his 57.24 final lap to win the 5k, but given that Cheserek was on cruise control for the final 100, that shouldn’t be a problem.

The 5k features a stronger field, with studs like Sean McGorty and Patrick Tiernan waiting for him fresh, and Cheserek is not a slam dunk. Cheserek didn’t need to be 100% to win tonight. Let’s say he was 80% (a wild guess); that might be good enough to win a tactical 10k but not enough to prevail against tougher competition in the 5k. But if he was 85% or 90%, he will probably be able to handle the 5k field as well. It can’t have hurt that the race went extremely slow (Cheserek’s 29:09 winning time was the second-slowest since 2004), which should make Cheserek’s recovery easier (not that he’s had any problems doubling back in the past).

Cheserek looked vulnerable earlier this season after suffering two losses but said afterwards he’s started regaining his confidence as the outdoor season went on. He “took it easy” a little bit in training earlier this season because of injuries.


steve smith <stevesmith26@gmail.com>

Jun 9 (4 days ago)
to me
Inline image 1


Track and Field championships ended, a rainbow appeared above Hayward Field. It was the product of steady rain falling over the facility, but also light breaking through clouds as the sun set in the West.

The contradiction of the weather was apt, given the day just experienced by the defending NCAA champion Ducks. Sunlight was provided by a series of personal bests from UO athletes, but like the rain falling over the meet, Oregon’s title hopes were dampened by some missteps over the course of the day.

The UO women came out of the day with four points toward their team score, thanks to a second straight fifth-place finish by Brittany Mann. She broke her own school record with a throw of 57 feet, 4 3/4 inches, scoring at the NCAA meet for the third year in a row.

The Ducks also saw Ariana Washington and Deajah Stevens establish PRs in the 200, and Washington advanced to Saturday’s finals as the top qualifier in the 100. Sasha Wallace provided another school record while advancing in the 100 hurdles, and the UO 4x100 relay reached the final.

But that group could be without sophomore Hannah Cunliffe on Saturday, after she pulled up and didn’t advance in her 100 prelim. And in the final event of the afternoon, the Ducks dropped the baton in the 4x400, eliminating them from that event.

“A tough day for the Ducks,” UO coach Robert Johnson had to acknowledge afterward.

It didn’t start out that way. The quartet of Danielle Barbian, Stevens, Cunliffe and Washington posted the fourth-fastest preliminary time in the 4x100, while team title favorite Arkansas finished ninth in qualifying, missing the final. Then, senior Annie Leblanc qualified for the 1,500 final, after barely missing finals at both the 2015 Outdoor and 2016 Indoor championships.

A short time later, Wallace ran the 100 hurdles in 12.95 seconds, becoming the first UO woman ever to reach the final in that event. She’s been pushed all season by teammate Alaysha Johnson, who also qualified for the NCAA meet.

“There is for sure some good competition going on there,” Wallace said. “Up through my junior year I had to be my own competition, so it’s great having someone on the team to compete with.”

The next event was the 100, however, and while Washington led the field by running 11.18, Cunliffe pulled up and didn’t advance. Washington wasn’t done, staying on the shoulder of Stevens in their 200 heat as the Ducks went 1-2, with Stevens crossing in 22.32 and Washington finishing in 22.61.

“With Deajah in my heat it kind of puts me in a comfort zone,” Washington said. “So I told her, I pull you, you pull me, so no matter what we’ll get one and two.”

Their 1-2 finish provided some of the sunlight that shined on the Ducks on Thursday.

“That time Deajah ran in the prelims of the 200 was a huge PR,” Johnson said. “Ari showed up well today in both the 100 and 200. So all those things are good.”

Both ran well enough to exceed pre-meet projections for how they might score Saturday. But without Cunliffe or the 4x400 team, the Ducks won’t be in great shape to win another team title.

“Not if I’m being really honest,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we have enough bullets. But we’re going to go out there and see what happens.”

The competitors Saturday will try to match the fortitude demonstrated by Mann in the shot put. By the time her competition began, Cunliffe’s 100 preliminary had been run. Mann knew the Ducks’ fate was dire.

She responded with her school record of 57-4 3/4, on the fifth throw of her series. That provided four team points, on a day team favorite Arkansas overcame a couple of slips by piling up 26 points on the strength of wins by Dominique Scott in the 10,000 and Alexis Weeks in the pole vault.

“The biggest thing is, one person goes down, the next person picks them up,” Mann said. “That’s what we do as a team. Stuff happens, so I was just trying to do as much as I could to even it out.”

Mann finished fifth for the second year in a row, after placing seventh as a freshman in 2014. She was rooted on as always by an adoring Hayward Field crowd.

“It was awesome,” Mann said. “They announced my name, and everybody cheered a little bit louder, which was kind of cool. But it’s always fun to compete here. We really do have the best fans in the world.”


EUGENE – The Oregon Ducks' chances to win the NCAA women's track & field title unraveled Thursday on a misty afternoon and evening at Hayward Field.

Oregon sprinter Hannah Cunliffe, already gimpy with an apparent hamstring issue, pulled up in her semifinal heat of the 100 meters.

Cunliffe, projected to finish second by Track & Field News in the 100 and a member of the UO 4x100 relay, walked to the finish line. The 4x100 also had been projected to finish second.

She could – in theory -- come back for Saturday's 4x100 final. The Ducks qualified with the day's fourth-fastest time.

"I don't know what's going with Hannah Cunliffe," UO coach Robert Johnson said. "You saw her pull up there. They rushed her off, she came through here, and I haven't talked to the doctors since then."

Bringing her back Saturday, though, might be tempting both fate and the balky hamstring.

And it's probably academic anyway, because the Ducks closed Thursday's competition before 9,027 with a faulty exchange in the 4x400 between Alaysha Johnson and Deajah Stevens that ended with the baton on the track.

Track & Field News had projected Arkansas to win the meet with 60 points, and Oregon to finish second with 55.

But that was with a relatively healthy Cunliffe and the UO 4x400 placing fifth.

"If I'm being really honest, I don't think we have enough bullets," Robert Johnson said. "But we're going to go out here and see what happens."

The Ducks picked a fifth-place finish and four team points from shot putter Brittany Mann. Mann threw 57 feet, 4 ¾ inches to break her own school record of 56-6 ¾ set last year.

And they had some good efforts in the qualifying heats.

Ariana Washington qualified in both the 100 and 200. Her 100 time of 11.18 was the day's best. Stevens had the top qualifying time in the 200 of 22.32.

Defending national champion Raevyn Rogers got through in the 800. Ditto for Annie Leblanc in the 1,500.

Sasha Wallace parlayed a great start into a first-place finish in the second heat of 100 hurdles in 12.95 seconds. Her time broke Alaysha Johnson's school record of 12.97 set two weeks ago.

But Oregon had some tough breaks too. Brooke Feldmeier had the fastest non-qualifying time in the 800. Johnson didn't get through the 100-hurdle preliminaries.

Toughest of all was the apparent injury to Cunliffe, who doesn't seem to have begun the day completely healthy. She didn't look her normally explosive self on the third leg of the 4x100, the day's first running event.

Washington, the relay's anchor, was waiting to take the baton from Cunliffe.

"I heard her say, 'Slow down,'" Washington said. "That happened at regionals. So I knew that something must have been bothering her. I just hope she gets better. She may or may not recover in time for Saturday. We shall see."

Cunliffe was sobbing as she came through the mixed zone after the 100.

It's been a tough two weeks for the UO women.

Sprinter/jumper Jasmine Todd, a member of Team USA at last year's World Outdoor Championships in Beijing, left the Ducks for unexplained reasons during the West Regional Preliminary meet two weeks ago in Lawrence, Kansas.

Cunliffe, apparently bothered by the hamstring, failed to qualify for this meet in the regional's 200 meters.

While the Ducks have had their issues, the University of Portland Pilots continue to take advantage of limited opportunities.

On Wednesday, UP senior Reid Buchanan upset the form charts with an unexpected fifth-place finish in the men's 10,000 final.

On Thursday, it was UP sophomore Lauren LaRocco's turn in the women's 10,000. Running a smart, tactical race, LaRocco stayed near the lead and in striking distance for most of the way. Then closed hard to finish fourth in 32:47.30.

Like Buchanan, LaRocco didn't figure on anybody's form chart. And like Buchanan, it was only the third 10,000 she ever had run on the track.

"Reid definitely set the standard and got me excited for today," LaRocco said. "He said he was going to just stick his nose in it."

She adopted the same strategy.

"I knew I was ready and I could run any kind of race, go out fast, or sit and kick," LaRoco said. "My goal was to place top five, top eight."

EUGENE — Claudia Francis is competing from almost 3,000 miles away, but the Florida senior is no stranger to Hayward Field.

The senior anchored the Florida 4x400 relay team to win its heat Thursday night at the NCAA Track & Field championships. Individually, Francis placed third in the first heat of the 400 meter hurdles. Her time of 56.79 seconds proved to be enough to earn her a spot in the finals.

She'll compete for both titles Saturday evening and she'll be doing it on a familiar track. Francis spent three years with the Ducks before transferring to Florida at the start of last season. Her times have improved, as has her confidence, since the shift to the Southeast.

"I'm definitely much faster," she said after the relay. "I feel like my running form is better. I'm more focused."

Francis' departure from Eugene is one of many exits the Oregon program has seen over the last two years from women athletes. While it's unclear what Francis' main motivations were to transfer, Florida coach Mike Holloway didn't ask any questions. He was happy to have her in the mix.

"I have no idea what went on here," Holloway said. "We never talked about that. All she ever said to me is that it just didn't work out. Basically we asked her to trust what we do. We asked her to do certain things as far as getting her fitness together, changing her diet. Once I figured out how to train her, once I figured out what kind of athlete she was, she started showing signs of being a great one for us."

The athleticism was apparent in both races, especially the relay. Francis secured the baton in third place on the last leg. But as she sprinted down the straightaway, no one was in front of her at the finish line. It was the fastest she's ever run, she said.

But while the relay has always been a part of her routine, hurdles are anything but natural for Francis. The senior hadn't competed in the event before this year. In two days, she'll be running with the sport's best for a shot at the national title.

"Last summer she asked me about the 400 hurdles and I thought she was crazy at first," Holloway said. "She said, 'Coach, it's been my dream,' and I said, 'All right, let's give it a try.' It worked out pretty good."

Despite her bid in the final, Francis still calls the hurdles a "learning experience."

"It's exciting and frustrating at the same time," she said. "It's something new, but at the same time it takes time to learn new techniques. I'm trusting my training and staying focused and positive. It'll all fall into place."

Francis will run in the 400-meter hurdles final at 4:57 p.m. Saturday. The 4x400-meter relay final will end the championships later that day at 5:51 p.m.

EUGENE -- The NCAA Track & Field Championship took two dramatic turns for the Oregon women's team Thursday at Hayward Field.

First, junior hurdler Sasha Wallace won her semifinal heat of the 100 hurdles in 12.95 seconds.

She broke the school record set earlier this season by teammate Alaysha Johnson of 12.97 seconds. Johnson was also in that semi, and did not qualify for the final.

Moments later, Oregon sprinter Hannah Cunliffe pulled up in her semifinal heat of the 100.

Cunliffe apparently was injured two weeks ago in the NCAA regional preliminaries in Lawrence, Kansas. She failed to qualify for the NCAA 200 there. The Ducks do not discuss injuries, but some believe Cunliffe strained a hamstring.

She appeared to aggravate the injury in Thursday's 100.

Cunliffe walked to the finish line, but obviously did not advance to the final. She was in tears after the race.

She had been projected to finish second in the 100 by Track & Field News.




Inline image 2



EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon track and field’s deep ties to the decade of the Sixties and its progressive movement will be celebrated when the Ducks hit the track for the NCAA Outdoor championships later this week.

UO competitors will be adorned in tie-dye uniforms featuring silhouettes of legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman and peerless Ducks distance runner Steve Prefontaine. The uniforms include Nike’s “AeroBlade” technology that reduces wind resistance, and are the same model that will be worn by the United States team in Rio in August.

The NCAA Outdoor meet begins Wednesday at Hayward Field with men’s competition, including five field event finals, the 10,000-meter final, the first day of the decathlon and preliminaries on the track. The decathlon wraps up Thursday, which features the women’s preliminaries along with six event finals.

The men’s competition wraps up Friday, and the women’s meet concludes Saturday. The Ducks swept the team titles in the 2015 NCAA Outdoor meet, and are projected to be in the thick of the races again this week.

The Sixties were a seminal time for UO track and field. Bowerman coached the “Men of Oregon” to NCAA titles in 1962, 1964 and 1965. In 1964, he co-founded the company that would become Nike with one of this distance runners, Phil Knight. Later that decade, Bowerman helped popularize jogging among the general public in the U.S.

In 1967, the UO football program moved from Hayward Field to Autzen Stadium, leaving Oregon’s track and field programs as the lone tenants of what has become one of the sport’s cathedrals. And in the fall of 1969, Prefontaine enrolled at the university, for which he would win seven individual NCAA Championships over this four years.


EUGENE — Greg Skipper, clutching a handle connecting a thin wire to a 16-pound silver steel ball, enters the throwing circle.

Four steps bring him to the back of the ring before he starts the ball's momentum, swinging back and forth, faster and faster around his head. Five sharp spins forward and the weight releases.

Thud.

The steel sphere bludgeons the earth as ground splashes up. The routine of just more than 20 seconds has driven Skipper through most of life.

The Oregon senior finished third in Wednesday's hammer throw competition at the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Eugene's Hayward Field. Skipper, in his last collegiate meet, notched a career best throw on his fifth attempt — 234 feet, 2 inches.

"Actually I was hoping for a little further, but it was good," Skipper said. "It was really close."

The hometown fans went into a frenzy as the hammer landed, none more so than Greg's dad, Scott. Both Skippers jumped as the hammer dropped. A medley of fist bumps, high fives, hollers and claps echoed between father and son and the Hayward Field faithful.

"My dad is my best friend," Greg Skipper said. "I can remember way back to third, fourth grade when I started throwing. He was always there. In high school we were lifting partners ... I can't say enough about my dad. He's my best friend."

Scott Skipper, a former Ducks football player, and his son share striking similarities — muscular build, crew-cut hair, friendly demeanor. Scott's antics even matched those of his son Wednesday afternoon. Every time Greg navigated the motions of his ring routine, Scott would match, swaying against the fence outside the field as most patrons comfortably sat 10 yards back on the bleachers.

"People don't realize that throwing is like a dance," Scott said. "You have to have rhythm. If you have good rhythm and you stay smooth, you can throw really far. I get the same rhythm when he goes. I've watched him so many times. It's been probably 50,000 to 60,000 throws. I have no idea. You just feel that rhythm — it's like boom, boom, boom. You lock in. You know when it's going to be good."

The rhythm's beat is never silent for Greg.  

"One time his senior year in high school he said, 'Hey dad, do you realize I've gone 17 weeks straight without a day off?' I was like, well maybe we better take a day off," Scott said.

But even as his college career ended Wednesday, it's still not time to relax. Although his best mark sits shy of Olympic standards, Greg plans to compete in July's Olympic trials, hosted in Eugene, if given the opportunity.

He plans to train the rest of the summer, not ready to let go of the sport that's guided him through life.

"I'll see what I can do at the trials, see if I can make some money and support myself," Greg said.

"I think the Olympic trials, he can have a bigger throw," Scott followed. "It's not over. When I came down today I thought, 'Well, it could be over.' It's not over."

Four steps back and five spins forward. The hammer is unleashed and anticipation sets in. Always hoping the thud is a little farther away.


Inline image 1



Experts expect the Ducks' hold on the NCAA Championships to end: Oregon track & field rundown

2015 NCAA Women's Track and Field Championships Finals
The Ducks celebrate after winning the 2015 NCAA women's outdoor title. It looks like it will be difficult for Oregon to repeat. (Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)
Ken Goe | The Oregonian/OregonLiveBy Ken Goe | The Oregonian/OregonLive 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on June 06, 2016 at 10:21 AM, updated June 06, 2016 at 10:31 AM

The experts all seem to be coming to the same conclusion as we barrel toward the NCAA Track & Field Championships, which begin Wednesday at Hayward Field.

That string of consecutive national championships the Oregon Ducks have been putting together is in real danger of coming to an abrupt end.

In case you missed them, here are the Track & Field News form charts, which show LSU winning the men's team title, and Arkansas winning the women's team title.

FloTrack's Gordon Mack projects Texas A&M will win the NCAA men's title, and Arkansas to run away with the women's NCAA title.

Adam Schneider stops short of predictions while assessing the men's and women's team races for DyeStat.com, but concludes the UOwomen's defense of their national title has been weakened by injury and defection.

Well, it's unrealistic to expect the Ducks to win every national track title every year.

They swept last year's outdoor team titles and the indoor team titles this year. The UO men are bidding for a third consecutive outdoor national championship.

The Ducks are bound to come up short eventually.

That said, I still believe they have shots this week in both the men's and women's team chases. Don't forget, Oregon has the home-field advantage.

The forecasts for the men's competition all show the UO men close enough to be within the margin of error.

Here are the Oregon athletes who have key roles this week as the Ducks seek to win a third consecutive NCAA men's track & field title.

To challenge, Oregon must have big performances from stars Devon Allen and Edward Cheserek. Despite his struggles this spring, the experts at LetsRun.com expect Cheserek to sweep the 5,000 and 10,000 at the NCAA Championships.

If he does, it's a boost.

It's hard to know what is happening with the UO women. They have lost a number of highly-regarded athletes in recent years, most recently Jasmine Todd, who left the team during the NCAA West preliminaries.

Several of those athletes could have helped in a tight team race.

Another defection from the UO women's track team

Another defection from the UO women's track team

The number of women leaving raises eyebrows.

Here is this year's meet schedule. Once again, most of the men's events will be contested on Wednesday and Friday, and the women's events on Thursday and Saturday.

OK, more links:

Oregon's Greg Skipper is forging his own legend in the hammer ring.

The Ducks won't have any entries in the NCAA women's steeplechase, but Eugene will have two.

The Ducks will be trying to defend their home track.

Eugene will own the spotlight as the best athletes in college track & field descend on Hayward Field.

Colorado's soft-spoken Pierce Murphy has become a contender in the NCAA 10,000.

UCLA thrower Nicholas Scarvelis isn't forgetting about the past, but he is focusing on the future.

The Texas A&M Aggies eye both the men's and women's team titles at the NCAA Championships.

Louisiana vaulters Devin King and Morgann Leleux have designs on NCAA titles.

TrackTown Radio will provide free expert commentary on the events at the NCAA




Comments