The Washington women had a difficult time holding-off Oregon as both teams put their top three in the first nine overall runners and Washington was not able to repeat it's 1-6 sweep from last year.
The men's race was first and sophomore Chris Derrick of Stanford (22:35.41 over 8,000 meters) was 20 seconds faster over the flat course and warm conditions (75 degrees) in comparison to the Pac-10 record over the course that US 10,000 meter champion Galen Rupp ran to win last year's championship in Springfield, Oregon (the west region location in two weeks). He out-ran senior Brandon Bethke of Arizona State (22:41.43), junior Cardinal teammate Elliot Heath (22:52.01) and Duck sophomore Luke Puskedra (23:05.04) who led the early part of the race.
Derrick's first Pac-10 title was part of a bigger goal, "The team definitely big goals going into this race. We came in very team oriented and wanted to unseat our rivals from the north (Oregon). I just kept pushing (third lap of four he made a strong move) and was thrilled to be able to lead my team today." Stanford won their seventh Pac-10 title in the last ten years (the other three were Oregon) by getting a 28 to 45 point win. Arizona State was third with 88 points and Washington was fourth with 119 points.
In a return to the Bill Dellinger Invite form, Duck junior Matthew Centrowitz finished fifth in 23:09.35 but the killer for the Ducks was the fact that Stanford's sophomore Jake Riley was sixth (23:12.71) and junior Justin Marpole-Bird was seventh (23:13.67) and Stanford had four runners in before Oregon had their third runner, redshirt senior Jordan McNamara (23:21.14 for eighth). Jordan had passed several runners at the end to finish in the top ten. Stanford's redshirt freshman and Washington high school product, Miles Unterreiner, was eleventh and finished the Cardinal scoring. Redshirt junior Danny Mercado was thirteenth in 23:34.85 to score as the fourth Duck and five-time track all-American AJ Acosta was sixteenth in 23:38.50. Senior all-Americans Diego Mercado, 32nd, and Kenny Klotz, 37th fell back and out of the scoring to finish with freshmen Mac Fleet, 33rd, and Bryce Burgess, 34th.
The women's race started out as a repeat solo effort by Washington sophomore Kendra Schaaf. Early in the race she had a 20 second lead but didn't seem to have the gas to continue at that pace. Last year she ran 19:24.05 and broke the Springfield course record by 33 seconds as the Washington top-five averaged 19:50, seven seconds faster than the previous course record. Injuries sidelined her during the indoor and early outdoor track season and that may have affected her. Schaaf was back in the pack with 2,000 meters to go and Duck senior Nicole Blood took the lead.
Blood unleashed a huge kick to win over 6,000 meters (6k) in 19:41.71. After the race Blood said, "I have had a rocky couple of years and I am proud of this team, and I thank them for keeping my confidence up. This win will carry me a long way as we move towards NCAAs. The course was very fast and with the big crowd, I really felt inspired." Blood won the first individual Pac-10 title for the Ducks since Nicole Woodward won in 1992, the end of a run of six Duck individual titles in seven years.
Schaaf held off Oregon freshman Jordan Hasay, 19:46.17 to 19:48.97. In fourth and fifth were Husky teammates junior Mel Lawrence 19:49.02 and sophomore Christine Babcock 19:58.82. In eighth was Husky senior Katie Follett ahead of Duck junior Alex Kosinski, 20:08.04 to 20:09.86. Redshirt sophomore Claire Michel was twelfth (fourth Duck) in 20:22.39 and in a battle of number five runners junior Kailey Campbell of Washington (16th in 20:31.67) beat Oregon sophomore Bronwyn Crossman (17th in 20:32.30). Top ranked Washington won with 35 points and Oregon was second with 42 points. Third place was Arizona State with 110 and twelfth-ranked Stanford was fourth with 111.
Coach Lananna was proud of the girls, "Every single woman came out and gave 100 percent. They ran tough and hard today and we gave Washington a real scare. Much better than last year."
On Saturday November 14th the top teams from the West region will be in Springfield. The regional will be one of nine regions in the country to qualify for the NCAA championships. The first two teams automatically qualify and there are 14 other teams chosen by committee. At that meet the race will be 10,000 meters for the men and 6,000 meters for the women and the conditions will be much tougher than the golf course the teams competed on in Long Beach, Ca.
"We had a lot of good things happen for the guys," Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna said, "We ran hard and we ran better than we did two weeks ago. We keep moving in the right direction and that's the goal."
There are overall plans set for the team and the middle distance runners that Oregon ran at this race won't run when the distance lengthens to 10k. "I'm especially pleased for Jordan McNamara (eighth place finish)," said Lananna, "That was a great way to finish as a senior."
With cooler, wetter weather and a tougher and longer course the standings will likely change. Oregon has a good chance to win both the men's and women's races at the NCAA championships and are odds-on favorites to get trophies (top four teams).
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