Saturday's Pepsi Team Invitational was a spectacular and interesting for any viewer. The women's team was ready to race a full contingent of top performers to exact revenge for their 193-192 loss to Minnesota last year. The men were still recovering from their NCAA indoor championship and were missing six competitors (and two football players that will hopefully sprint this year) that would have been seeded first or second in their events at this meet.
The first event was the men's Javelin Throw. Junior transfer Cyrus Hostetler had indicated he would have a big throw after throwing a personal record (pr) 245-3 at last week's Stanford Invite with a short approach. Teammates Alex Wolff (224-11) and Britton Nelson (210-11) had also thrown prs last week. After the Oregon preview, Hostetler had told Wolff (Newberg high school teammate "don't ever let me take first with a 218 throw ever again." On Wolff's first throw (71.42m, 234-4) he moved to fourth on Oregon's all-time list. Later in the first round Hostetler lined up for a full approach, went down the run-away and put so much torque into his throw the javelin bent as he was about to release it and took off with such speed and height that there was a collective "ooohhhh". The javelin landed at 83.16 meters, 272-10, a school record by 20 feet, a four foot Pac-10 record (Esko Mikkala of Arizona threw 81.86m, 268-7, in 1998), and ranks fourth on the all-time collegiate list. The mark is an IAAF World Championship "A" standard (81.00 meters). His mark would have been the second best mark in the US last year. He is now one of five US javelin throwers with that standard. Two of the throwers are collegians Corey White of USC (82.97m, 272-5 at this weekend's Texas Relays) and Chris Hill of Georgia (81.72m last year and 81.03 this year).
Hostetler took one more throw (79.86m 261-10) and called it a day. Everyone was shocked, including him, "I tried to throw about 70 meters, 230. I wanted to get 77 (school record 252-10)…" This week added two steps to his approach with a little more speed and the change was clear, "I just came out there and hit it. It (javelin) seemed to not want to drop. It was just perfect. It was a year goal to maybe hit the 80 meter mark. I could not believe it." Before Hostetler competed for Lane Community College last year his pr had been 208. Without a national level javelin coach he tried to videotape his form and coach himself on the technique aspect at the same time as getting very good training by the LCC coaches that improved his explosiveness and athleticism. He threw 241-0 at the regional community college championship (NWAACC) and competed at the Olympic Trials. He came to Oregon and credits his new coach for the technical improvements, " Christina (Sherwin, Danish record-holder and 2x Olympian), our new javelin coach, she is amazing! She is helping me out so much."
The women's 5,000 meters (5k) was the first race on the track and transfers Mattie Bridgmon (junior) and Lindsey Scherf (senior) ran regional qualifying marks 16:26.21 and 16:28.62 to go 1-2. That was the first of five 1-2 finishes by the Duck women (and two relay wins). Overall there were eleven first or second place performances by first or second year athletes on the team. Senior Loren Groves of Kansas State, last year's fifth place finisher at the NCAA meet, won the hammer with a throw of 202-6. The Oregon women set the 4x100 meter school record at the Stanford Invitational with a time of 44.64 and freshman Amber Purvis, junior Keshia Baker, sophomore Jamesha Youngblood, and sophomore Mandy White easily won at this meet in 45.35 ahead of Indiana at 47.21, a pre-cursor for the final results of the meet. Sophomore Alex Kosinski led a 1-2 Duck sweep in the 1,500 with a new pr, 4:18.43 for eighth all-time among Ducks, and junior Nicole Blood ran 4:20.49. Youngblood followed her relay leg win with a last attempt long jump of 6.30m, 20-8 to get the win.
The women's pole vault was one of the highlight events with three all-Americans. Junior Vera Neuenswander of Indiana beat sophomore Duck Melissa Gergel 13-5 ¼ to 13-1 ½ after they tied for sixth at the NCAA indoor meet. Senior Rachel Yurkovich won the javelin with a meet record 57.29m, 187-11 ahead of junior teammate Ashley McCrae at 165-8. Junior Keshia Baker ran her first outdoor 400 of the year after fininshing sixth at the NCAA indoor championships and ran a regional qualifying 53.41 (just off her pr of 53.27).
After the 1-2-3 by the men in the javelin and 5k things went downhill for the men. The impressive performance by the Duck javelin throwers only counted for 16 points in the international scoring system (eight places with only two scorers from each team, 9 down to 1). Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott led a 1-2-3 Duck finish in the 5k with a regional qualifying mark of 14:05.42. Indiana won the shot put (Ben Stephen 56-2), pole vault (Kyle Lechlitner 16-0 ¾), 4x100 relay (40.99), and went 1-2 in the 1,500 meters (De'Sean Turner in 3:50.86). The pole vault and 1,500 were surprises. Oregon countered with a surprising long jump win by Vernell Warren (24-0 ¼) over Indiana's eighth place NCAA finisher Kiwan Lawson, and a win in the 400 by Chad Barlow (regional qualifying mark of 47.16).
One of the most anticipated events of the meet were the women's 100 and 200 meters. Freshman Amber Purvis had a tremendous indoor season. She was the only freshman at the NCAA indoor 60 meter dash and ran school records in the 60 (7.34) and 200 (only ran the 200 once, 24.15). It looked like she should be faster than her high school prs after also running the second fastest 4x400 meter split (52.2) at the NCAA indoor meet. She ran a pr 54.27 at the Oregon Preview to get a regional qualifying mark. In the 100 meters she shocked the crowd and won against teammate sophomore Mandy White, 11.41 to 11.97 for a new school and meet record. The old school record was 11.58 shared by Rosie Williams in 1989 and LaReina Woods in 1993. Purvis' old pr was 11.86 from high school and she thought she might run 11.6 but she had a viral infection this week so she did not expect her result, "I didn't know how my body was going to do today." That did not dampen her enthusiasm for her first races at the 100 and 200 this year, "I was really excited for today." Luckily the weather cooperated and that may have had an influence," I usually get really juiced for a good, sunny day." This may not end up being the last time she sets a pr in the 100 this year, "I feel like I could have given more".
30 minutes later Purvis lined up for the 200 meters and the crowd was in great anticipation. She was admittedly tired, some from her efforts in the 4x100 meter relay and some from the 100 meters. She was ready though and planned to run a 23.6 and stated later, "in the 200 I gave it all I had." When the clock stopped at 23.09 for another school record (old was Rosie Williams' 23.39 from 1989) ahead of sophomore Mandy White in 24.65. Did she feel she could change Oregon's history as not being a sprint school, "My coach has a plan for me and whatever he has planned for me I will follow through with it." Coach Robert Johnson has already led his sprint group to indoor school records in the 60, 200, 400, 4x400 relay, and outdoor school records in the 100, 200, and 4x100 relay. The next record may by the 4x400 meter relay time of 3:33.11 from 1995. Sophomore long jumper and triple jumper Jameesha Younblood surpassed the outdoor long jump record and is just short of the triple jump record. She holds the indoor long jump and triple jump records. Expect many points at the Pac-10 meet from this group.
Senior Lucy Cridland had her first win in four tries at the Pepsi Team Invitational with a regional mark of 49.05m, 160-11 over 2008 9th place NCAA finisher Loren Groves of Kansas State, 156-5. Sophomore school record steeplechaser Claire Michel had a rough fall and fell to third at 10:38.11 behind Indiana's Sarah Peese in 10:22.26 and teammate senior Dana Buchanan I 10:31.22.
The Duck men had small victories but without depth Oregon's #2 scorer in the events finished in fifth in the pole vault, 1,500, 110 meter high hurdles, and steeplechase, sixth in the high jump and 800, seventh in the long jump, and eighth in the 100 and shot put. Oregon was favored to go 1-2 in the pole vault and 1,500.
The Oregon men were struggling but redshirt sophomore David Klech pulled past 2007 NCAA semifinalist Nick Karren of Utah State after the last hurdle, 51.57 to 51.62, and junior Marshall Ackley was third in a new pr 53.21 for the Ducks. Freshmen Brian Schaudt and Lane Seals kept things tight with a 3-4 finish in the triple jump as freshman Olymide Olamigoke of Indiana won at 49-2 ¼. Two Indiana runners doubled back from their 1-2 performance in the 1,500 to go 3-4 in the steeplechase and the meet was over with Indiana's discus throwers finishing 2-4 ahead of Oregon's 5-7. The Duck 4x400 relay team won in a season-best 3:12.51 and the final team score was Indiana 200 and Oregon 194. During the Oregon men's run of two straight Pac-10 titles they scored 211 in 2007 and 230 last year.
Last year the Oregon men broke the record for points in this meet. This year the women set the record with 233.50 points to Indiana's 167 points. The women have said they want to get a Pac-10 title and NCAA title and this is a great start to the season. This could by a great indicator for Oregon's performance at the Pac-10 meet and their first title since 1992.
2009 Pepsi Team Invite
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