Duck Women in the Hunt for Another NCAA Title

The Oregon women will try to change their fortunes and move one step up in the NCAA team standing this year. For the athletes that have experienced three consecutive runner-up finishes, their is one accomplishment left to go with their four consecutive conference titles.

At the same time the Oregon men are rebuilding with young talented newcomers, a mixture of Track and Field News' top ranked freshman class and some very good transfers.

At the same time the Oregon women have lost close battles for the women's outdoor NCAA championship, they have won three straight NCAA indoor titles and the team has replaced graduated talent with new talent.

Redshirt senior Brianne Theisen came back to school for her senior season and she has made it worth her while with a collegiate Pentathlon record (4555 points) and outdoors she surpassed the Olympic "A" standard (6150 points) by scoring the third highest score in collegiate history, 6353 points, and she is the biggest favorite at the NCAA championships.

Junior Jordan Hasay has led the team with her performance on the track and won two NCAA titles indoors last year when she won the mile and 3000 meters at College Station. This year she has focused on preparing for the trials and has rounding into peak form after she won the Pac-12 title in the 1500 and beat one-time collegiate leader (at the time) Katie Follett with a time of 4:13.28 and she is one of the favorites to win an NCAA title. She will face NCAA indoor champion Lucy van Dalen and season-leader (4:09.51) and last year's outdoor and this year's indoor 800 meter runneer-up Natalja Piliusina. Junior teammate Becca Friday will join her and she was fifth last year and has pr'd in the 800 meters this year.

Defending NCAA champion Anne Kesselring ran her fastest time of the year at the Prefontaine Classic (2:02.72) which ranks her third among collegians. She was fourth in the fast Pac-12 1500 and she has worked to peak for the post-season championship events. NCAA indoor champion Nachelle Mackie is the list-leader outdoors (2:01.11) after her runner-up run at Mt SAC.

Oregon sophomore Mike Berry was third at the NCAA championships last year (45.18) and fifth at the US championships (45.22). His performance led to an appearance on the US 4x400 team at the World Championships and he has focused his season on the end of the season championships. He ran a school record 44.86 at the West Regional meet and he is one favorites for an NCAA championship along with defending NCAA champion Tony McQuay and David Verburg of George Mason (45.08).

Junior Elijah Greer (pr 1:45.03) had a slow start to the track season after a foot injury slowed him but he won a Pac-12 championship and his quarterfinal in the West Regional meet (1:48.05) and he is a contender behind 2011 US third place finisher Charles Jock of UC Irvine and Ryan Martin of UC Santa Barbara who have both run under 1:45.

Senior Luke Puskedra was sixth at last year's NCAA championship over 10,000 meters and now he had his top finish at the Pac-12 meet with a ruuner-up finish. He ran a debut half-marathon in 1:01:36 in January and showed he is in fantastic shape. The 10,000 (10k) final is one of the deepest in the meet and another sixth place finish would be very good.

Sophomore English Gardner was seventh at last year's NCAA championship and she is also rounding into form with her fastest time (11.00) in winning the Pac-12 championship. It is the second-fastest time among collegians this year behind superstar junior Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU (10.94).

Redshirt senior Alex Kosinski has had a great year and is undefeated in races of 5000 metes (5k) or more other than a qualifying race at the West Regional. She won her first Pac-12 title over 10k (34:19.67) in her debut in the event and ran a pr 15:36.90 over 5k at the Pepsi team Invitational to beat Big 12 5k and 10k champion Natasha Rogers of Texas A&M.

High school record holder Sam Crouser (255-4) has improved almost every meet in his freshman year after redshirting last year (back injury). His throw of 251-8 at the West Regional puts him fourth on this year's collegiate list.

Oregon's top freshman recruit this year, Johnathan Cabral (13.45) has not lost to a collegian this year but will face tougher competition in a deep NCAA field. He has reached the Olympic "A" standard and he will have a good chance to take advantage of his dual citezenship and compete for Canada at the Olympics.

The Oregon men will have other entries by freshman Arthur Delaney in the 200 (20.68), 4x100 relay (39.86), sophomore Boru Guyota (1:48.98), three in the 5,000 meters - sophomores Trevor Dunbar (13:36.82 indoor pr) and Parker Stinson (13:39.22 indoor pr) and senior Chris Kwiatkowski (13:51.84 indoor pr), and Dakotah Keys in the Decathlon (7793 points).

The Ducks will have to rely on some good finishes by the other entries to equal their tenth place finish last year (25 points). The men's team title is up in the air after favorites for both Florida (Jeff Demps in the 100 meters) and Arkansas (Andrew Irwin in the pole vault) failed to make the NCAA meet. Florida, Florida State and Texas A&M will battle for the team title.

Both of the Oregon women's relays have a chance to score but the 4x400 relay is in the best position (season best 3:29.43 at the West Regional). Injuries have slowed the 4x100 relay (43.72 at Pac-12) but more time for healing should result in a better performance to put the team in the final.

Many Ducks are close to scoring position. Indoor all-American Sophomore Phyllis Francis (52.05 in the 400 meters), Junior Laura Roesler (2:04.48 season best in the 800) and senior Lauryn Newson (pr 43-4 1/4 in the triple jump) won their first Pac-12 titles. Each is close to scoring and they will be needed to overcome a very strong LSU team.

Also entered with a chance to score are sophomore Chizoba Okodogbe in the 400 meters (season best 53.03), and freshmen Claudia Francis in the 800 (pr 2:04.88), Allison Woodward in the 5k (pr 16:17.38) and 10k (pr 33:51.70), and Lauren Crockett in the high jump (pr 5-10 1/2).

The women's competition should be a two-team race between LSU and Oregon with LSU the strong favorite. Important battles between the teams will be the 100, 400, 800, and both relays. If Oregon can score more points in those events they would likely win the NCAA team title. If not they will have to utilize their strengths in the other events to overcome LSU's team.

eDuck Top Stories