Pac-10 Preview

This Pac-10 meet could be pretty special for the Ducks. The men are progressing to their third NCAA title in the same year (only two other schools have done that) and the women are moving from a young developing team to a team of mostly juniors and seniors with some key freshman and sophomore performers.

This is the last Pac-10 championship meet for Galen Rupp. Until his junior year in 2007 he had not won any championship races on the collegiate level. In that meet he controlled the 5,000 meters (5k) and 10,000 meters (10k) for the Ducks and led the team to score 19 points in the 10k and 13 in the 5k. That propelled Oregon to a slight 114 to 111 (Arizona State) win in Stanford and Oregon's first of two consecutive Pac-10 championships. This, like last, year Oregon has a lot more depth and performers with much more experience.

A healthy Shadrack Biwott will help with depth in the distance races. With Rupp redshirting and Biwott not 100%, junior Diego Mercado finished second in the 5k and fifth in the 10k to help a young distance squad score even more points. Freshman Luke Puskedra and sophomore Danny Mercado will likely score in both races. Freshman 3x all-American Chris Derrick of Stanford has already broken Galen Rupp's US junior record in the 5k (13:29.98) and will run in that as well as debut in the 10k.

With the top two collegiate and national javelin throwers in the competition the first event of Saturday should be very compelling. Junior transfer Cyrus Hostetler of Oregon made a 31-foot pr at the Pepsi Team Invite (272-10) and on the same day at the Texas Relays USC senior Corey White threw a pr 272-2. Five of the top ten collegiate javelin throwers will be entered and Oregon's junior Alex Wolff will try to score big points.

The 800 and 1500 will be exciting competitions. The 800 will have three sophomores and one senior trying to chase down Duck junior Olympian Andrew Wheating. One of those sophomores is Duck sophomore transfer Travis Thompson. The 1500 is virtually a preview of the NCAA meet. Freshman Duck national leader Matt Centrowitz will apparently have both teammates Rupp and Wheating and recently healthy junior Jordan McNamara. There will be heavy competition from 6x mile/DMR all-American Garrett Heath of Stanford, NCAA indoor runner-up in the 3k Michael Coe of California, and 4x 800/DMR all-American Austin Abbott of Washington. Even if Wheating and Rupp don't run this race this will be the race of the weekend.

Senior Chris Winter is the Pac-10 leader in the steeplechase and most experienced of the group and will attempt to get Oregon's first Pac-10 win in ten years since Micah Davis won the second of his two titles. Junior Ashton Eaton will attempt to win the long jump for his second title of the meet to go along with his Decathlon title (8091).

Olympic Trials 400 semi-finalist Jordan Boase of Washington will try to get his first Pac-10 titles in the 200 and 400. His stiffest competition will come from 2008 NCAA 400 hurdles champion Jeshua Anderson (sophomore) of Washington State in the 400. Anderson should easily win his specialty and will face Oregon super-soph David Klech. The Shot Put will have indoor collegiate record holder and two-time NCAA indoor champ Ryan Whiting of Arizona State against defending Pac-10 champion Zach Lloyd of Arizona.

The women's competition will require great depth by the Oregon team if they plan to win. In the 20 remaining events Oregon is seeded to score at least five points in all but eight events and five of those they are seeded to score at least three (75 points at least). They will have to get every point to defeat three-time defending champion Arizona State, USC, and always tough Stanford. Oregon is only favored in a few events.

Senior and defending NCAA champion Rachel Yurkovich will try to win her fourth consecutive Pac-10 javelin title. She will join one other from the javelin to have done that (Inga Stasiolionyte of USC) but only three others in any other event, Olympians Erica McLain of Stanford in the triple jump, Sheena Johnson in the 400 hurdles, and Amy Acuff in the high jump.

Oregon will once again try to score significantly in the distance races and junior Nicole Blood will do double duty and is favored to defend her Pac-10 5k title against spectacular freshman Laurynne Chetelat of Stanford and three very tough Washington runners Anita Campbell, Katie Follett, and Marie Lawrence. In the 10k junior transfer Duck Mattie Bridgmon has looked very strong all year and will have to hold of Campbell, Ali Kielty and Jenna Kingma of Arizona State and a still recovering from injury defending champion Alex Gitts and Kate Niehaus of Stanford. Transfer senior Lindsey Scherf of Oregon (US junior 10k record holder) has had slight injuries to derail her conditioning and racing but if in shape could win both races.

2008 NCAA fourth place finisher and Duck junior Zoe Buckman is favored in the 800 meters but has not run as well as last year due to lingering problems. Hopefully she is recovered enough to win her first Pac-10 title. Defending Pac-10 400 meter champ Junior Keshia Baker will take on 2007 NCAA 400 hurdles champion Nicole Leach of UCLA.

Defending NCAA hammer throw champion Eva Orban of USC will try to defeat defending champion Sarah Stevens of Arizona State. Stevens will attempt to win her first Shot Put/Discus Throw double. Charonda Williams of Arizona State will attempt to repeat her double from last year and is developing into one of the top 200 meter runners in the country. Defending NCAA high jump champion Liz Patterson of Arizona will try to defend her title. The pole vault is another event that anyone can win due to the tough Hayward Field conditions and tough competition. Katie Morgan of Cal won the NCAA title last year but is not the favorite, Katy Viuf of UCLA is and she is not the most decorated UCLA vaulter (Tori Anthony).

To win Oregon will have to consistently score and break up points for Arizona State and USC in the sprints and Stanford in the distance races and horizontal jumps. Even with 19 points in the heptathlon for Oregon it will be a tough battle for Oregon to win.

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