Large Contingent of Ducks to NCAAs

The Duck track team will send 24 entrants to the NCAA championships after getting automatic qualifiers (top five for individual events and top two from relays) from competition on Friday and Saturday and Tuesday's recent at-large berths. Coming into this weekend's competition Sophomore Ashton Eaton (fourth seed) and Freshman Brianne Thiesen.

On Saturday Phil Alexander finished fifth in the 200 meters, an automatic qualifying position, in 20.98. He is the 24th seed going into the NCAA meet. Sophomore Andrew Wheating defeated Duane Solomon of USC again by winning in 1:47.93 (just off Solomons' meet record of 1:47.87). Former national collegiate leader Wheating is now ranked fourth among collegians after a weekend of fast performances. AJ Acosta was fourth in the 1,500 meters in 3:43.41 and the winner was Track and Field News' NCAA favorite Garrett Heath in 3:42.17. Acosta is now the third seed going into the NCAA championships in two weeks. The men's 4x400 meter relay team finished second in 3:05.77. Oregon is ranked ninth in the relay, based on their Pac-10 performance. Sophomore Colin Witter-Tilton was one of five pole vaulters to not advance past 17-1 but was one of only two of those vaulters to clear on his first attempt and finished fifth overall to automatically qualify for the NCAA meet. He is seeded 25th going into the NCAA championships.

The women advanced many of the competitors expected to make the NCAA meet. In the 400 meters Senior Carol Rodriguez of USC ran her first post-season 400 meters and won in 52.58 in front of Sophomore Duck Keshia Baker in 53.50. Baker is seeded 25th for the national meet. In the 800 Sophomore Zoe Buckman ran a personal record of 2:02.50 (fifth on the UO all-time list) to finish second behind the meet record of Cal's Alysia Johnson, 2:00.77 and go to her second NCAA championship meet. Buckman is also the second seed headed into the NCAA championship meet. Senior Kasey Harwood finished fifth in the 400 hurdles and will compete for the second time at the NCAA championship meet (in 2006 she ran in the first round).

Other performers were given at-large berths on Tuesday to the NCAA meet. Junior Chris Winter finished sixth in the 3,000 meter steeplechase in his second best performance ever, 8:48.42, and made it to his first NCAA track championship as a 12th seed. 23rd seeded freshman Daniel and 25th seeded freshman Diego Mercado were handed at-large berths in the 10,000 meters. As expected Decathlete Chris Richardson of Long Beach State and Martin Maric of Cal-Berkeley declined the automatic invitation to the NCAA meet in the Javelin and Sophomore Alex Wolff was given the automatic invitation. Junior Mike Simmons was also given an at-large berth. Simmons is the 15th seed and Wolff is 22nd. 16th seeded Freshman Jordan Stray was given an at-large birth in the hammer throw.

Freshman Alexandra Kosinski finished seventh in the 1,500 meters in 4:25.41. Kosinski is seeded 20th going into the NCAA meet. Freshman Melissa Gergel finished eighth at the West Region with a best clearance in the Pole Vault of 13-3 3/4. Gergel is seeded 20th. Kalindra McFadden was also given an at-large bid for her season best mark of 5420 in the heptathlon and is seeded 23rd.

The best non-qualifying mark was the school record by Freshman Claire Michel in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. The event has advanced quickly and her mark of 10:26.62 was only good for seventh and not worthy of an at-large invitation (almost eight seconds short). Sophomore Brooke Giuffre had a personal record by nine seconds to put her fourth on the all-time Oregon list with a 13th place finish in 10:38.08. In tenth place in the men's 1,500 was Senior Joaquin Chapa in 3:48.74. Chad Barlow was eighth in the 400 meters in 47.67. In seventh place in the men's 800 meters was Senior Mike McGrath in 1:50.37. Senior Colin Veldman was ninth in the Discus Throw with a best throw of 183-3. He beat four of the at-large qualifiers but they had superior season bests. Freshman Isaac Stoutenburgh finished ninth in 8:57.19. The women's 4x400 meter relay finished seventh in 3:40.10.

Oregon will have one of the top ten largest contingents at the NCAA meet and most of the competitors are freshmen or sophomores. The women are in line to possibly score 30 points and the men could score 24 points. For the women's team this would be the most points scored since the 35 by Tom Heinonen's 1993 team. If the men score over 20 points it would be for the fifth straight year.

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