Ducks Sign Eight Track Standouts

EUGENE – Seven state champions and one national prep leader are among eight men's and women's track and field athletes signed to national letters of intent to compete at the University of Oregon beginning in the 2008-09 school year, according to the Ducks' Associate Athletics Director and Director of Track and Field Vin Lananna.

Four men and four women are included among the school's first signees of the year who could make immediate impacts as Oregon freshmen in the sprints, jumps, hurdles, and middle distance and distance events.

"Dan Steele and our other coaches have done a tremendous job of identifying student-athletes who want to join the list of legendary Ducks who have competed for Oregon and to help write the next chapter in this great story," said Lananna.

Heading the group are two of the nation's top distance threats in Luke Puskedra (Salt Lake City/Judge Memorial Catholic HS) and Bryce Burgess (Portland/Franklin HS). In addition, the Ducks' signed Colorado sprint state champion Matt Butcher (Longmont, Colo./Longmont HS) and Oregon 4A state high jump winner Dan Staats (Klamath Falls/Henley HS) on the men's side. Washington women's distance state champion Bronwyn Crossman (Bellingham, Wash./Squalicum HS), California state meet hurdler Lyndsay Pearson (Santa Barbara, Calif./San Marcos HS), as well as horizontal jumpers Amber Purvis (Benicia, Calif./Benicia HS) and Rebecca Rhodes (Salem/South Salem HS) highlight Oregon's women's additions in the fall of 2008.

Puskedra claimed Utah 3A state track championships in the 1,600 and 3,200 last spring as a prep junior, and the 2007 state cross country crown this fall, before placing fifth in the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships in December. He then turned in this season's top high school mile time in the country (4:08.77) in the Reebok Boston Indoor Games before he was clocked in one of the fastest prep 2-mile times in U.S. history in winning the Nike Indoor Nationals Sunday in 8:49.58.

The two-time Utah Boys Gatorade Player of the Year recipient (2007 track and 2007 cross country) had posted the state's fastest 2-mile mark of all time in the 2007 state meet (9:04.6) after finishing fourth in the Penn Relays high school boys mile in 4:25.11. He also has posted a personal best at 1,600 meters of 4:10.58.

Burgess was the 2007 Oregon 6A state 3,000-meter champion as a junior (8:47.18) before capturing last fall's 6A state cross country crown. The state's 2007 Gatorade Boys Cross Country award recipient also finished third in the 1,500 meters (3:59.80) at last spring's state high school track championships. His season best of 3:59.57 in the 1,500 ranked third in the state's class 6A a year ago, while his 3,000-meter best of 8:41.63 led the state encompassing all classifications.

As a sophomore, Burgess finished seventh in the 4A state meet 3,000 with a time of 8:51.19.

Crossman will join the women's distance group. The two-time Washington 3A state cross country champion ran a personal-best 10:35.95 to finish second in the 3,200 in last spring's state meet. She also placed third in the 2007 state championship 1,600 in addition to second in the 2006 state 3,200 as a prep sophomore.

In winning the 3A cross country state crown in 2007, she bettered the second-place finisher by 32 seconds, while she led Squalicum High School to the team title in 2006 with her initial individual state championship.

Staats is a second Oregon state champion who will join the Ducks in the fall after capturing the 2007 Oregon 4A boys state high jump crown his junior year with a mark of 6-5. He posted a season-best 6-7 earlier in the year, which loomed as the top 4A mark recorded last year as well as tied for the fourth-best overall performance in the state.

Rhodes was the 2007 Oregon 6A long jump and triple jump girls state champion after claiming the 4A state long jump crown and finishing second in the triple jump her sophomore season. Her state meet marks of 18-6.75w and 36-3.5 ranked second and fifth, respectively, on last year's Oregon high school performance lists, however she accumulated personal bests of 19-1 and 37-0.50 in her two specialties as a sophomore.

Joining Rhodes on the horizontal runways will by Purvis, who won the California state long jump title as a sophomore (19-10.25) before nagging injuries interrupted her progress in 2007. Her 2006 best tied the high school All-American for the nation's eighth-best prep mark in the country that season. In addition, she won the long jump in the 2006 Junior Olympics with a mark of 18-11.75.

Bolstering the Ducks' sprint corps will be Butcher, who broke the Colorado boys 400-meter state record while capturing the 4A title in 47.01. He also won the 200 championship in a personal-best 21.55 in 2007 and finished third in the 100. Butcher finished second in the state 400 meters as a sophomore.

Pearson was twice named Santa Barbara News Press Athlete of the Year after claiming Santa Barbara County 100 and 300-meter hurdles titles last spring. In addition, she finished fifth in the 300-hurdles at the 2007 CIF state championships. Pearson posted season bests of 14.30 in the 100 hurdles, 42.82 in the 300 hurdles and 39-3 in the triple as a junior.

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