Ducks repeat Pac-10 team titles

The Ducks had a record-breaking performance in so many ways at the Pac-10 championship meet in Berkeley, California. The women scored a record 215 points (surpassing the score set by UCLA of 189.5 in 1997) to defeat Arizona's 109 points. The men had to fight to the end and prevailed over USC 168.5 to 156 (most since UCLA scored 170 in 1993).

Senior Ashton Eaton had a performance to remember for the Ducks by scoring 39.25 points, more than ninth place Arizona with 26. Fittingly Eaton had three prs among the five events (including one relay) he competed in. He was the only male athlete to put marks on the all-time Oregon list with his Pac-10 championship Decathlon (8154) and 110 hurdles (13.54), and his runner-up finish in the 100 meters (10.33). He also had to get a near-pr to win the long jump (25-7 ½) and contributed to a .5 second season-best in the 4x100 meter relay (40.36) to help the team get fourth. His hurdle time is now ranked fifth nationally and his long jump from the Texas relays (25-10 ¼ ) is ranked ninth. Eaton lived up to Associate head coach Vin Lananna's praise, "There are not enough superlatives to describe him."

The Duck had double champions across the board led by junior Jamesha Youngblood's two school records, 21-9 (off three jumps) in the long jump and 43-5 (won with 43-7 ¾ wind-aided) in the triple jump. She is now ranked third and fifth among collegians in the two events. She also helped with the school record in the 4x100 meter relay in a .84 second (compared to before the meet) school record and meet record in 43.27 and ranked fourth this year among collegiate teams. Her hometown fans (Hercules high in San Pablo) finally got to see her perform. Before the meet she was sure 60 friends and family would be there.

Her relay-mate, sophomore Amber Purvis, had some unfinished business from last year. Last year a football player stepped on her foot and broke her big toe three weeks from the Pac-10 meet. She would have been favored to be the runner-up in both the 100 and 200 meters. This year she dominated competition with times of 11.38 and 23.14 and took the long leg (second) on the relay. No one was closer than .27 in the sprints and the relay won by an amazing 1.17 seconds.

Senior Nicole Blood showed again why she is such a tough competitor. She had never run a 10,000 meters until this meet and claimed how relaxed she was during the race and when told to kick she ran 67 seconds for the final lap of her race. She is now ranked seventh among collegians and fourth all-time among Ducks. Senior Mattie Bridgmon ran with her until the end and finished in 33:38.79, just a second off her pr and is now ranked 13th among collegians. Blood came back less than 24 hours later and lined up in the 5,000 meters. Junior teammate Alex Kosinski had the lead but Blood caught her at the end to win 16:06.74 to .84. Kosinski was disappointed but a 1-2-6 finish put the score at 213 points and broke the 200 point barrier at the Pac-10 meet for the first time.

Senior Keshia Baker had the performance of the entire meet with her school record and collegiate leading time of 50.76 in the 400 meters. She also broke the meet held by Olympian Monique Henderson of UCLA (50.90). She beat teammate Purvis in the heats of the 200 (same time of 23.18, 2.2 m/s wind-aided) and then finished second in the final with a pr performance of 23.41 into a 1.8 m/s head-wind. She ran a great third leg of the 4x100 meter relay.

Redshirt junior AJ Acosta may not have won an event but was stellar throughout the meet. He ran a heat of the 1,500 meters to qualify for the final, then finished fourth in the 3,000 meter steeplechase about 2:15 later with a 40 second pr (8:52.62). The next day he ran the 1,500 meters 21 hours after the steeplechase and finished second to sophomore teammate Matthew Centrowitz, 3:41.16 to 3:41.83. 2:30 hours later he ran the 5,000 and had to run a pr 13:46.87 to get third. He scored 19 important points for the Ducks with the team race still in doubt. As he was hurting in the 5,000 he looked down to his wrist to see the wristband that he created that said "Don't ever give up." It worked as he finished behind the 1-2 finish of Chris Derrick and Elliot Heath, repeating their 10,000 meter finish.

Oregon had a large lead in the men's meet after the 110 hurdles after Eaton set a pr of 13.54 but Oregon's David Klech was disqualified with a trail leg violation and third seeded Brandon Ames of USC did not start. That slowed USC's momentum enough and at that point Oregon had a 109-55 lead. USC mad a strong charge after that as they won the 100 (Ahmad Rashad 10.20), 400 (Joey Hughes 45.16) , and were in the process of winning the high jump and triple jump when three Ducks led by Andrew Wheating lined up for the 800 meters. Wheating (1:47.77) led a 1-2 (Elliot Greer) -5 (Travis Thompson) Duck finish and Oregon had a 148-96 lead with the triple jump and high jump not scored yet but this lead was likely too much for USC to catch. USC had a disappointing 3-8 finish in the 400 hurdles to make it Oregon 152, USC 103. The meet was now mostly over although USC would score a lot more points before the meet was over.

Manju Wijesekara reapeated in the high jump, Rashad repeated his 100-200 double from last year with a 21.05 to 21.11 win over Hughes and it was now 153.5 to 131 for the Ducks with the triple jump and 4x400 to be scored and the Ducks lined up in the 5,000 meters. Acosta finished well enough in the 5,000 and senior Michael Maag came back from the 10,000 meters from the night before to finish eigth to score 7 points and end the meet. USC went 1-4 in the triple jump, but Duck sophomore Brian Schaudt was sixth in the triple jump and the meet was over as Oregon had a 163.5 to 146 lead with the 4x400 meters to go.

Favored USC won the 4x400 meters as Eaton finally got a rest and Oregon used a group of 800 meter runners and Barlow to run 3:10.13. Wheating, after years of asking finally got on the relay. Ryan Whiting of USC finished his double by winning the Discus (193-1) to go along with his sensational 70-0 ¼ shot put from Saturday which has to be the performance of the meet.

The sensational group of 23 seniors from the men's and women's team contributed to the team's 12 women's and five men's titles but nine were by underclassmen. This group of veterans (all but one contributed to last year's Pac-10 championships) will be ready to improve on last year's performance at the NCAA championship meet after they go through regional qualifying in Austin, Texas in two weeks.

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