Cheserek Wins NCAA 10K

To the legend of Edward Cheserek, add Wednesday's final kick in the 10,000 meters of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field.

Oregon's fabulous freshman distance runner won his fourth national title Wednesday, running comfortably with the lead group in the 10k before exploding through the final 200 meters to win. Cheserek, one of three UO men to score in the event, crossed in 28 minutes, 30.18 seconds to the delight of a roaring home crowd, becoming the first freshman to win the event since 1979.

Cheserek added the 10k title to his cross country championship from the fall, and wins in the 3,000 and 5,000 at the NCAA Indoor Championships. He'll try for his fifth title Friday in the 5,000.

"You just don't get kids like that as freshmen who come in to be as dominant as he is," UO coachRobert Johnson said. "He's doing a fantastic job. He's done everything we've asked, and the best thing about him is, he's humble as pie."

Cheserek's win, and scoring performances by Trevor Dunbar and Parker Stinson in the same race, helped the Ducks to the first-day lead in the team race with 15 points. In qualifying, Oregon pretty much held serve, and might be in position for a pleasant surprise as Mitch Modin is poised to join Dakotah Keys as scorers in the decathlon.

From the start of the 10k, a pack of five broke away, including Cheserek and the runner he outdueled for the cross country title, Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech. Stinson was going to be content to let those two go, but when Shadrack Kipchirchir of Oklahoma State and Mohammed Ahmed of Wisconsin took off as well, Stinson did the same.

Cheserek seemed more than comfortable with the pace, but Stinson began to ease back after a few laps, into a second pack led at times by Dunbar. With three laps to go, Cheserek said, "Kithuka told me, 'go,'" seeming to acknowledge the UO freshman's still-full tank. Cheserek held out another 1,000 meters, before absolutely flooring it to the finish line; only Kipchirchir was game enough to try and keep up, finishing second by a little more than 2 seconds.

"I always save for the last 400," Cheserek said. "I don't run out crazy, just relax and try to run smart."

Dunbar wanted to be patient too, but with about 250 to go he heard the 9,165 fans' explosive reaction to Cheserek's finish.

"The crowd got so into it when Edward was kicking, I was like, 'All right, I've got to use this energy,'" said Dunbar, who led the second pack across in a fifth-place time of 28:53.81.

Stinson was edged at the tape and finished eighth in 29:01.23, picking up a point in the team race. He wasn't lamenting his fast start with the lead pack.

"I wasn't doing anything stupid; that was my plan, but I just wasn't good enough today to do that obviously," Stinson said. "So I tried to recover and stay within myself."