Ducks Men Impressive, Women Lose to Huskies

The Pac-10 has proven to be the top conference in cross country. On both the men's and women's sides the top two teams in the country were at the Pac-10 cross country meet. The Washington team had a large contingent of fans. It seemed larger than they ever get for a home track meet or when Washington visits Oregon for the Pepsi Team Invitational.

Freshman Kendra Schaaf of Washington proved to be the top female collegiate cross country runner outside of two time defending champ Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech. She ran away from the competition and broke the course record by 30 seconds with a time of 19:24.05. At pre-Nationals, where she finished third, it seems clearly that she was doing pack running with her teammates that finished fourth and fifth, freshman Christine Babcock and Sophomore Marie Lawrence. She has a pop to her stride and cadence that makes her look similar to international championship competitors. She has a tremendous future if she stays healthy. Top Ducks Nicole Blood and Alex Kosinski had to let Schaaf go as she passed one mile in an incredible 5:07.

The Washington runners moved up and dropped Sophomore Duck Zoe Buckman. The pace seemed too hard for the top Ducks and it seems they were shocked by Schaaf's ability. Both Ducks severely dropped off the pace and Graduate senior Lindsey Scherf passed Blood and Kosinski to finish behind the top six performance by the first six Husky runners. Blood and Kosinski were at a loss after the meet. The top five Huskies averaged a faster time (19:50) than the previous meet record. For the first time ever in Pac-10 history a team took the top five spots at the championship meet. Washington scored 15 to Oregon's 55, while 12-time defending champion Stanford was third with 99 points. The Trackshark website made this historic performance the top story of the weekend's collegiate conference championships.

The number one ranked Oregon men had not competed much this year. Earlier in the year they had defeated fourth ranked Portland and fifth ranked Alabama. Now they would face second ranked Stanford who had won one of the Pre-Nationals races against top competition. Redshirt Senior Galen Rupp used his first race of the year to show his fitness level. He took off early and ran impressively. Samuel Chelanga of Liberty had been the prohibitive favorite for the NCAA championship but Rupp was impressive enough to excite track experts into thinking Galen may win his first NCAA championship. Duck Freshman Luke Puskedra and Senior Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott tried to stay close but eventually fell off Rupp's high pace. Graduate senior Curtis Suver, Sophomore Andrew Wheating and Sophomore Matt Centrowitz stayed in a pack of nine runners for half of a race.

At halfway Kiptoo-Biwott and Puskedra were 16 seconds behind Rupp and the Ducks in the pack were in 4-6 for a Duck sweep (50 seconds behind the pair) similar to the Husky women. At that point the top Stanford runners, freshman Chris Derrick and senior Garret Heath, pushed the pace and broke up the pack a bit. Rupp continued to push the pace and Puskedra stayed ahead of Kiptoo-Biwott. Shadrack seemed to be hurting and Derrick and NCAA miler Heath moved past him. Olympian Wheating led the packed Ducks with a ninth place finish while Centrowitz was 11th and Suver 12th. Oregon scored 28 points to Stanford's 47. Washington and Cal tied for third with 104.

Oregon will run next on November 15th and the men will face now third ranked Stanford and fourth ranked Portland. The women will look for revenge and based on last year's performances Blood and Kosinski should break up the 1-6 performance by the Huskies at the Pac-10 meet. There are only two automatic team NCAA championship positions for each of the regions and then a selection committee will determine at-large positions. This should be a tremendous competition in Palo Alto, California.

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