Oregon has a great first day at PAC-10

Oregon had a great first day at the Pac-10 meet but so did the USC men. The Oregon women are in solid position to dominate the Pac-10 meet but the men will struggle with USC through the last event, the 4x400 meters, to determine the winner.

Oregon's women's team set four school records and a second best all-time yesterday to start the second day in second behind Arizona 71 to 65 points. Arizona scored 29 points in the shot put to set up their lead and Oregon won three of the six events on Saturday.

The meet did not start well for the Ducks as junior Jordan Stray (fourth at 203-6) had his worst meet of the year but it only cost one point as senior Scott Penny surpassed his seed and finished seventh (189-7) to improve Oregon's score. Junior Trey Henderson of USC won with a best of 219-9 over Arizona State senior Jason Lewis (217-10).

Junior Brianne Theisen didn't let that affect her and was brilliant in the high jump. She cleared 6-0 and was in third behind two Arizona jumpers and was willing to stop but coach Harry Marra suggested she keep going and she cleared 6-1 ½ to finish in second behind Elizabeth Patterson as they cleared the same height. Former NCAA champion Jasmin Day of Arizona was sixth as Arizona scored 19 points.

Theisen was jumping when the Oregon women's 4x100 meter relay (White, Purvis, Baker, and Youngblood) ran a school record 43.81 to finish with the fastest time. That ranks sixth among Division one teams going into the weekend. Oregon men's 4x100 meter relay ran a season best 40.57 with a relay team of Vernell Warren, Ashton Eaton, Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James. That time was the second fastest in the preliminaries and the sixth fastest in the Pac-10 this season.

The men's and women's 1,500 meter preliminaries went as expected. Last year the men of Oregon went 1-2-3 and has an excellent chance to do that again with performers with prs and accolades that may even lead to a 1-2-3-4 finish although Stanford and California have competitive all-Americans that could break-up a sweep. The women also qualified four for the final as Freshmen Jordan Hasay and Anne Keselring and senior Zoe Buckman are ranked in the top eleven collegiately (plus 2009 third place finisher Alex Kosinski) and will have to compete with two-time defending champion and collegiate leader Katie Follett of Washington.

Sixth seeded- senior Colin Witter-Tilton no-heighted in the pole vault as a topsy-turvy event ended up with NCAA indoor champion Scott Roth of Washington lost to teammate Ryan Vu's pr clearance of 17-7 ¾ as USC's Brandon Estrada and Derek Scott went 2-6. At the same time USC freshman Cooper Thompson uncorked a 19 foot pr, 253-3 to move into the lead in the second round of the javelin throw. First round leader (Duck junior Alex Wolff was in second) senior Cyrus Hostetler responded with a 253-4 throw and neither improved. Oregon finished 1-4-6-7 with Ducks Wolff, senior Mike Simmons and Pac-10 newcomer Britton Nelson scoring.

Junior Brianne Theisen set a school record in running the second-fastest preliminary time in 13.43 (sixth fastest in the Pac-10) in a very competitive field. Oregon sophomores Lyndsay Pearson (13.97) and Rebecca Rhodes (14.17) did not make the final. Ashton Eaton ran the fourth fastest preliminary race in the 110 hurdles at 14.06 behind two Trojans and the second and third seeds, Brendan Ames and Oscar Spurlock. Duck Junior David Klech qualified for the final by running the sixth-fastest preliminary of 14.36 but sixth-seeded sophomore Eric Hersey did not make the starting line.

Top seeded Duck senior Keshia Baker (53.61) and tenth-seeded Michele Williams (season-best 54.08) made the final. The USC men had another good performance by qualifying three for the final as Duck senior Chad Barlow ran a season-best 46.94.

The 100s were among the most anticipated and the Ducks did not disappoint. Top-seeded Oregon sophomore Amber Purvis won her preliminary with the day's fastest time of 11.46 and Duck junior Mandy White finished third in the heat at 11.71 to make the final. Coach Lananna decided to put senior Ashton Eaton in the 100 even though he would have been the favorite in the 200 meters. It paid off in the preliminary race as he ran a wind-aided 10.19 (2.7 m/s) and Duck freshman football player LaMichael James made the final by finishing second in that heat at 10.52.

Ducks Jamesha Youngblood and Rebecca Rhodes made their second jumps their best. In front of the home crowd Youngblood jumped a school record 21-9 which was enough to win and Rhodes' 19-6 ¼ was enough for eighth.

The preliminaries for the women's and men's 800 meters went as expected and Oregon qualified everyone they expected to. Three Duck men and four Oregon women easily moved on.

In the first track final Duck junior Claire Michel continued her excellent season to win Oregon's first Pac-10 title in the women's steeplechase and broke her own school record 10:11.70 and Duck freshman Taylor Wallace ran a 19 second-pr, 10:39.44, to finish eighth. Senior AJ Acosta finally got comfortable with the steeplechase and ran a 41 second pr at 8:52.62 after qualifying for the 1,500 meter final.

Duck sophomore Lyndsay Pearson broke her pr in the 400 hurdles (60.07) and was the last qualifier. Duck junior David Klech ran his second 400 hurdle race of the season and was the fourth qualifier with a near season-best 51.54 as USC freshman sensation Reggie Wyatt (49.97) and his sophomore teammate Duane Walker (51.70) made the final.

The last qualifying races on the track involved the 200 meters and in the second heat Duck teammates Baker and Purvis tied for the same time (23.18 w2.2 m/s) that was a personal best for Baker (wind-aided). They are now the top-two seeds in the Pac-10. Trojans Joey Hughes and Ahmad Rashad both qualified for the men's 200 final and came into the meet as the second and third seed.

During the 200s Ashton Eaton could only watch as he was long jumping. He took the lead with his second round jump of 25-3 but USC junior Brendan Ames took the lead in the fifth round with a 25-7 ¼ jump as Eaton was saving energy for the next day by passing. After Ames took the lead Eaton re-entered the competition for his fifth jump and on his sixth jump won the competition with a 25-7 ½ jump. Junior Vernell Warren was fifth for the Ducks with a best jump of 24-2 ½ while Trojan freshman Antonio Burnett finished eighth.

Senior Nicole Blood ran her first 10,000 meters ever and won in 33:28.38 (fourth all-time among Ducks) over fellow senior Duck Mattie Bridgmon in 33:38.79 (just one second off her pr). Lauren Zaludek was the third senior for the Ducks and ran a debut time of 34:29.67 for eighth place to move into 12th all-time for the Ducks. The performances in this final event of the night probably put the meet away for the Ducks barring injuries.

The Duck men have dominated this race the last couple of years but the Stanford Cardinal dominated the Pac-10 cross country meet this year and went 1-2-3 with all-American Chris Derrick, Elliot Heath and Jake Riley all running 29:10 and Ducks Luke Puskedra (29:15.36) and Michael Maag (29:20.18) went 4-5 for the fewest Duck points in this event since before Lananna took over as head coach. Oregon is first with 71 points after the first day and USC is fourth with 40 but is likely to score more points than Oregon on the second day. How many more will determine the winner and this meet is likely to come down to the 4x400 meter relay again.

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