DUCKS RUN WELL IN NCAA PREVIEW
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Men of Oregon took second and the women placed third at the Pre-Nationals Invitational cross country race Saturday morning at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.
How It Happened - Men: The third-ranked Men of Oregon had three runners in the top 30 to finish second in the men’s race to No. 2 Colorado, which won with 89 points. The Ducks totaled 151 points, followed by No. 13 (tie) Arkansas (164), No. 13 (tie) Texas-El Paso (197) and No. 7 Georgetown (214).
Edward Cheserek was the runner-up in 23:22.8. Thomas Curtin of Virginia Tech went to the lead early and won the men’s individual title in 23:18.2, stopping a run of three straight consecutive victories for Cheserek, who paced his teammates for much of the race.
The Ducks also got strong runs from Jake Leingang, who was 24th in 23:41.4, and Travis Neuman, who took 29th in 29:43.5. Freshman Tanner Anderson was 40th in 23:51.5 and Matthew Melancon was 56thin 24:02.3 to round out the scoring for the men.
How It Happened - Women: The Pac-12 was well-represented in the women’s race with three teams finishing in the top five, No. 5 Michigan was the overall winner with 131 points, followed by No. 2 Colorado (151), No. 4 Oregon (175), No. 9 Stanford (244), unranked Utah (350) and No. 7 Georgetown (381).
Seniors Waverly Neer and Molly Grabill led the women’s effort, while freshman Sarah Baxter had her best race yet as a Duck. Neer was eighth in 20:11.5, with Grabill 29th in 20:33.3 and Baxter 37th in 20:39.9. Alli Cash (53rd, 20:46.5) and Ashley Maton (63rd, 20:54.6) rounded out the scoring for the Ducks.
What It Means: Oregon stayed on track for the postseason, giving runners a chance to see the Louisville course, where the 2015 NCAA Championships will be held, while earning victory points against a number of ranked teams. The Pre-Nationals race also foreshadowed what could be a wildly entertaining Pac-12 Championships in two weeks, with three women’s teams in the top five, and the Ducks and Colorado squaring off again on the men’s side.
Odds and Ends: It was just the fourth time in 15 career races that Cheserek did not cross the line first … Cheserek has still never finished lower than fourth in a cross country race … According to associate head coach Andy Powell, Cheserek stayed back with his Oregon teammates, trying to help the younger Ducks through their first race in a massive field, as the Men of Oregon were working on “pack running” for much of the race … in the men’s individual race later in the day, Bryan Fernandez took third in 24:39.3.
What’s Next: Pac-12 Championships, Oct. 30, Colfax, Wash. (Washington State host).
Quoteworthy: “Both teams ran really well today and finished about where we expected. We wanted to come in and compete with some of the best in the country. It was also important to get experience on this course which was new to most of our team. We will head home, add a few pieces to both teams, and look to come out strong in two weeks at Pac-12s,” said associate head coach Andy Powell.