Pepsi Team Invitational

Oregon's Pepsi Team Invitational meet is one of a few regional meets held across the country that are sponsored by Pepsi. The event has been Oregon's lone dual meet, until this year, since 2003. The men will face UCLA later this year in a duel meet so this is the women's only opportunity to face team competition until the post-season.

Minnesota has just won their second of two consecutive Big 10 indoor titles (only team titles they have ever won) and Penn State won nine all-American certificates at the recent NCAA indoor championships. The Oregon men just won their first MPSF team championship and the Washington men for the first time in program history had their second consecutive top-10 finish at the NCAA meet. The Penn State men just had their best Big 10 indoor finish ever (fourth).

The jumps and throws offer some of the best competition. The women's competition starts with the best event, the javelin throw. Junior Rachel Yurkovich is fifth on the all-time collegiate list (189-11) and will take on 2007 ninth placer Minnesota's Ruby Radocaj (172-4), last year's finalist Heidi Nadeau of Penn St (167-2), her teammate Karlee McQuillen (162-1) and Duck Ashley McCrea (166-8). The men's hammer has Oregon's sixth year senior Colin Veldman (211-0) against his teammates Jordan Stray (205-11) and Steven Johnson (198-10). Joining this close competition is two time East Regional competitor, Tyler Hoffman (206-2) of Penn State University and Zach Midles of Washington (198-9).

Oregon's frosh sensation Jamesha Youngblood will have stiff competition in the long jump (pr 21-0) and Triple Jump (pr at Oregon Preview – 41-11 ¼) from Penn State's Junior all-American Gayle Hunter in the long jump (pr 20-7 ¼) and Sophmore Lena Bettis in the Triple Jump (40-11). On the men's side recent NCAA indoor runner-up in the long jump, Husky Senior Norris Frederick (pr 26-7 3/4, will square off against recent NCAA automatic Decathlon qualifier Ashton Eaton (pr 25-3 1/4). The women's pole vault will have three all-Americans. Two of them are Husky veterans Stevie Marshalak and Kelly DiVesta and indoor fourth place finisher from Minnesota, sophomore Alicia Rue.

Many young stars are in the distance events. Recently minted double all-American Bridget Franek (indoor 3k and 5k) of Penn State University will attempt to improve on her fourth place ranking (personal records among returning athletes) in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (9:59.21). Recent third place finisher in the indoor mile, Duck AJ Acosta will run the 5,000 meters against fellow Ducks three-time all-American Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott and last year Penn Relays winner Scott Wall.

The middle distance races will have rising talents against veterans. This winter Katie Follett of Washington broke two individual school records (mile and 3,000 meters) and was part of the school record for the Distance Medley. She finished sixth in the NCAA indoor mile behind her teammate Amanda Miller who finished fifth. Those two will face off against their teammate, Senior Amy Lia, the 2006 NCAA 1500 champion and young Ducks Freshman Alexandra Kosinski and sophomores Nicole Blood and Zoe Buckman. Blood and Follett may opt to run the 5k against each other instead. Oregon's Andrew Wheating will open his outdoor season with a run at 1500 meters against veteran Joaquin Chapa. The women's 800 has five-time NCAA top three placer, Junior Heather Dorniden of Minnesota, against young Ducks Zoe Buckman and Alexandra Kosinski and three-time NCAA competitor (while at BYU) Michelle Turner of Washington. The men's 800 will feature the return of four-time all-American Austin Abbott (and former Pepsi winner) against two-time Big 10 winner Senior Mark Miller of Penn State and Duck Seniors Mike McGrath and Joaquin Chapa.

This is a good opportunity for many of the Ducks to face serious competition in preparation for post-season events. The recently acquired Duck women's depth (Mandy White in the sprints, Brianne Thiesen in many events, and Jamesha Youngblood in the jumps) and strong returning men's team make this event a likely comfortable sweep for both the men and the women.

eDuck Top Stories