Eaton Wins Pac-10 Decathlon

TEMPE, Ariz. – Ashton Eaton fought off Rickey Moody of Washington State to win the 2008 Pac-10 decathlon Saturday night at Joe Selleh Track at Sun Angel Stadium. Eaton won with 7,604 points to Moody's 7,395.

More importantly, Eaton and teammates Alexey Shkuratov and Marshall Ackley gave the Ducks a 1-4-5 finish and earned 19 important points toward the Pac-10 team race, which continues at ASU next weekend.

"It feels pretty good," said Eaton, who becomes the seventh Duck to win the Pac-10 decathlon and first since Tommy Skipper in 2004. "I wasn't thinking about winning so much as getting 10 points for the team. Everything went pretty well tonight, but what really brought me up was seeing how well Marshall and Alexey were doing.

"That was so fantastic because (earning 19 points) will really bring energy to the entire team and catapult us into next week."

Eaton and Moody waged a battle for first throughout Saturday evening. Eaton had a slim 39-point lead going into the second day and increased that to 78 points with a win in the 110 hurdles in a hand-timed 14.14. But Moody roared back in the discus with a throw of 134-01 to win the event and surge into the lead by 48 points. Eaton was fifth in the discus with a throw of 113-07.

Then Eaton took the lead for good in the pole vault as he won the event in a decathlon PR clearance of 15-11. Moody's best vault was 12-7.5, to give Eaton a 241 point edge with two events remaining.

Moody nearly made up those points by winning the javelin with a throw of 185-0, compared to Eaton's 145-04, as the Cougar sliced all but 62 points off Eaton's advantage.

But the Bend, Ore., native led a 1-3-4 Duck finish in the 1,500 meters to seal the victory. Eaton's winning time was 4:44.48.

"Moody is certainly a good athlete and there was nothing easy about this decathlon," said Oregon associate director of track and field Dan Steele. "Ashton met with some adversity and overcame it with a great attitude today. To win the decathlon as a sophomore is really an accomplishment and it's going to be fun to watch him develop and get more consistent."

In addition to Eaton, Shkuratov and Ackley were big boosts to the Ducks' Pac-10 title hopes. Shkuratov, a junior from Minsk, Belarus, took fourth, scoring 6,907 points and earning an NCAA championships provisional mark by nine points. It was a remarkable 505-point PR for Shkuratov who was competing in his first decathlon of the season. Shkuratov was third in the 110 hurdles in a time of 14.74 and closed the day with a fourth-place finish in the 1,500 meters (4:45.50). Ackley, a sophomore from Nyssa, Ore., was right behind Shkuratov in fifth place with a PR of 6,866 points. He was second in the 1,500 meters (4:44.95) and fourth in the pole vault with a clearance of 15-3.

"I was really excited for both Alexey and Marshall," said Steele. "I thought the way the whole group competed and represented the University of Oregon, they were the class of the field.

"Nineteen points is terrific. Going into it, I thought 15 was good, hoped 17, and thought that there was maybe an outside chance to come away wit 19. The decathletes' performance typifies the men's team this year, where we go out and compete at or above our abilities."

Eaton deflected that praise back upon Steele. "At these meets, I'm not sure if coach Steele sleeps much or eats much because he's always doing something to try to motivate us, but he is so passionate about wanting us to do well and experience success," Eaton said. "You can see the excitement on his face when we do well." Not to be overshadowed, on the women's side, freshman Brianne Theisen rolled to a second-place finish with 5,765 points, trailing only three-time NCAA heptathlon champion Jacquelyn Johnson of Arizona State, who set the Pac-10 record in scoring 6,307 points.

In securing a career high by 190 points, Theisen was second to Johnson in both the long jump (19-5.5) and the javelin (144-8), the later mark being a PR in the event.

The Humboldt, Sask., native's mark trails only Johnson among NCAA Division I heptathletes this season. Theisen also increased her hold on the No. 2 spot on the UO top 10.

"What impressed me about Brianne is that she competed like veteran, not a freshman," said Steele. "She showed a lot of poise for her first Pac-10 meet. She was all business, very focused. It's exciting that she's just a freshman." Junior Kalindra McFadden also earned a point for Oregon by finishing eighth with 5,022 points. The Bozeman, Mont., native rallied in the day's final event, the 800 meters, with a fifth-place finish in 2:21.43. Duck sophomore Erin Funkhouser was 11th with 4,799 points, highlighted by a second-place finish in the 800 meters (2:15.62).

Theisen and McFadden gave Oregon nine points in the team race that the Ducks will take into next weekend's Pac-10 championships. Stanford earned 15 points in the heptathlon, while ASU got 10.


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