Mt Sac Preview

This weekend the University of Oregon sends five men's and women's throwers, competing in the javelin and hammer throw, to the Mt SAC relays. Over the years the Mt SAC relays have developed into one of the top venues for track athletes with experience levels anywhere from high school to world championship and Olympic level.

Among the thousands of competitors, there are many world-class international competitors usually entered in the meet. In the four events that the Ducks will be competing one veteran past winner is from Slovakia and the another is from Denmark.

At this meet last year, NCAA third-ranker Britney Henry had her best performance (school record, 221-7) and has the best shot of winning her event, the hammer throw (Sunday 10:00am). She was the runner-up last year to defending champion and two time US champion Erin Gilreath and defeated 2006 US champion Jessica Cosby, NCAA champion Jenny Dahlgren, 2005 NCAA champion Loree Smith, and Pac-10 champion and NCAA runner-up Eva Orban. Last week Henry had her top performance of the year and threw 16 feet further than her mark from last year's Pepsi Team Invite even though Coach Deal has increased the training intensity for the throwers (normal mid-year training). Britney's personal record (68.17, 223-8 from 2005) may be in danger this weekend. Cari Soong, a three time NCAA Hammer scorer and volunteer assistant at UO, had her worst year since 2000 last year (216-3 pr, 207-4 '06 best) but is healthy this year and ready for a big mark.

This weekend is an opportunity for collegiate leader Rachel Yurkovich to compete against top-level competition (Sunday 9:45am). Her marks this year have been against her very good teammate and fellow competitor at the relays, Ashley McCrea, but she has not faced stiff competition. In the Oregon Preview she won by 30 feet, at the ASU Invitational where she broke the school record (189-11) and won by 23 feet over McCrea (new pr 166-8) and two NCAA competitors from last year (but not finalists). This last weekend at the Pepsi meet she won by almost 31 feet over her teammate and broke the meet record with a top throw of 174-4. Last year, meet record holder Christina Sherwin of Denmark defended her championship against four-time US champion and record holder Kim Kreiner. Also ahead of Yurkovich last year was NCAA champion and US runner-up Dana Pounds, returning NCAA scorers Ashley Kaufman of Akron and NCAA bronze medallist Krista Woodard of Georgia. This is a great opportunity for Rachel to show her new form to the top throwers in the country and for Ashley to introduce herself with her improving marks.

Brian Richotte threw well at last week's Pepsi Team invite even though he has a slight injury. He moved to eighth all-time for the Ducks and 14th in the NCAA but is still ten feet off his personal record after throwing a season best against two time NCAA scorer Adam Midles (also at last year's Mt SAC relays) and NCAA finalist Martin Bingisser. Slovakian Libor Charfreitag, former two-time NCAA champion from SMU and Olympic Games finalist, from 1999 to 2005 won 6 Mt SAC championships but lost last year to a personal record (257-0) by US champion AG Kruger. Also competing last year were three-time US champion James Parker, 2003 NCAA champion Lucais MacKay, 2006 US fourth placer Kibwe Johnson, fifth placer Travis Nutter, and ninth-placer Nick Welihozkiy. Brian will compete Saturday or Sunday.

In the Men's Javelin Ryan Brandel will try to improve on his NCAA eighth best throw of 225-7 in his so-far undefeated season. Last year Breaux Greer won his seventh consecutive US Championship and in 2005 won his third Mt SAC relays championship. Last year, graduated NCAA runner-up Eric Brown of Arkansas won. Ryan will compete Friday or Sunday

This is a great opportunity for the highly ranked Oregon throwers to get a chance to compete against some of the best throwers in the country. Every opportunity to face off against the best helps to prepare them for championship competition later in the season.

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