Acosta, Wheating now frontrunners for Pac-10

AJ Acosta ran the fastest 1,500/mile last Sunday at Stanford, since Dub Myers' time of 3:55.31 at the 1986 Oregon Twilight event. Meanwhile, Andrew Wheating has established himself as one of the greatest Duck middle distance runners with his victory over national level competition. The two runners now prepare for the 2008 Oregon Twilight on Friday evening at Hayward Field.

Acosta ran against some of the best 1,500-meter runners in the country and stayed in a very comfortable sixth or seventh position until right before the bell when five runners came ran past or up to the side of him. Over the next 200 meters (29.0) he moved around this group and into seventh behind leaders Matt Tegenkamp and Chris Lukezic, who had started a strong kick themselves and was just behind Russell Brown and Garrett Heath who had been near the front the entire race. In a possible preview of the three championship meets coming up, Acosta ran by Brown and Heath (27.3) and finished third behind Tegenkamp and Lukezic in 3:40.52 for the fastest 1,500 by a Duck since 1986 (3:39.9 by Dave Wilburn is 10th on the Oregon all-time list).

In another impressive run Wheating has established himself as one of only four Oregon runners to be on the top eleven of both the all-time Oregon 800 meter/880 yard and 1500 meter/mile lists (his mile converts to 3:39.96 faster than Wilburn's hand time). Wheating has admitted that last year he was intimidated by the other runners he was training with but this year he is a lot more comfortable and has yet to lose a race. In another display of confidence in his own abilities and a tremendous kick, Wheating was in last place at the bell of an 800 field with every competitor having experience either in NCAA, national final experience and one was a former national champion (Kevin Hicks). The rabbit, Dustin Emrani of Oregon Track Club Elite, went through the first 400 in 51.6 and Wheating was at 53.6. At the bell Wheating slowly moved up and was sixth with 250 to go when he burst forward. That first 200 of the second lap he ran 27.4. He passed his all of his competition around the turn and ran free the last 100 meters. That last 200 meters he ran in 26.4 for a final time of 1:47.82, seventh best all-time for a Duck.

In another outcome for the Ducks that is a good sign for the Pac-10 meet, Kenny Klotz showed his newly developed kick. In training this year Klotz has been working with the 1500-meter runners. For most of the race he sat in the pack in seventh or eighth place (a Duck pattern on Sunday). At 2,400 meters, four runners pushed ahead (led by Minnesota's Hassan Mead and Chris Rombough). Klotz moved quickly to close the gap and moved into fifth with Stanford's Elliot Heath following him. Last year Heath had defeated Klotz at the US junior championships in the 5,000 meters with a 56.5 final lap to Klotz's 58 seconds. This year Klotz's training helped him with a personal record (PR) in the 1500 by three seconds (3:46.92 at the Oregon Relays). At this quick-paced 5k (4:27 at the first mile – 13:54 pace) Klotz would hopefully take advantage of his new speed to defeat Heath. With 800 to go Heath moved just ahead of Klotz. Klotz outkicked Heath on the last lap to PR at 13:58.15 for sixth and Heath was eighth at 13:59.12.

Duck freshmen also had a good meet. Alexandra Kosinski was in the second heat of the women's 1,500 against NCAA and national level competition. She finished second in her heat at 4:19.48, another pr, behind Lauren Hagans of Baylor. Chad Hall had another pr and qualified for the NCAA West Regional meet with a fifth place time of 14:11.12.

Some other Ducks did not have a successful trip to the Payton Jordan meet. Marcus Dillon attempted to get the regional qualifying mark in the 400 but finished just off the mark at 47.31 behind Stanford's Andrew Dargie in 46.70. Zoe Buckman ran in a very fast 800 but fell and finished ninth in 2:13.01. In his first race since the cross country season Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott ran the 5,000 meters in 14:26.29, 14+ seconds off regional qualifying. Diego Mercado ran 29:28.95 in the second 10k race, not as fast as his 29:14.58 from earlier in the season.

As usual this meet provided some tremendous distance running. Shalane Flanagan satisfied her stated goal by breaking the American record at 10,000 meters with a time of 30:34.49 just ahead of Kim Smith of New Zealand at 30:35.54. Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech finished third at 31:25.45, breaking the collegiate record. In fifth Molly Huddle became the third American with the Olympic A standard by running 31:27.12. In the men's 10,000 meters Craig Mottram ran a 16 second pr with a win in 27:34.48. In seventh Scott Bauhs of Chico State became the fastest collegian and American this year and ran an Olympic A standard time (seventh American qualified) of 27:48.06. Double World champ Bernard Lagat (13:16.29) won the 5,000 meters in front of the top collegiate time this year by Colorado's Brent Vaughn (13:18.46). Anna Willard and Lindsey Anderson had a rematch of last year's NCAA steeplechase championship with Anna Willard winning again in 9:37.73 to 9:41.41 for Anderson (just off both personal records).

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