Oregon track teams bring home a pair of Pac-12 titles
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - On a day where the nation honored its mothers, the Duck women hit the mother-lode in women's 200 meters and the men cashed in on a cache of runner-up finishes as Oregon swept the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships for the fifth consecutive year Sunday at Loker Stadium and Cromwell Field.
"We are not a team of one individual, but rather we are made up of all kinds of people who know how to step up and do their part," said head coach Robert Johnson. "And so you saw that today where we just had one big performance after another all across the board.
"I have to give a great amount of credit to my coaching staff for not only finding and recruiting these talented young men and women for Oregon, but also for developing that talent and having them prepared to perform so well today."
The Women of Oregon won with 139 points, followed by Arizona with 123, Arizona State with 110.33, UCLA with 87.33, Stanford with 86.50 and USC 81.
The Men of Oregon scored 149.5 points in becoming the first school to win seven straight Pac-12 titles since USC won eight in a row between 1957-64. The Trojans were second with 149.5 points, followed by USC with 108, UCLA with 98.5, Arizona State at 94 and Washington with 76.
"It's a really great joy as a Duck to get four straight titles," said senior Elijah Greer, who won the 800 meters and has played a major role in more than half of the Ducks' current run of seven straight titles. "I'm thankful to have a strong team of guys. Everything has gone so well."
The men opened the day by scoring 10 points in the hammer, with Greg Skipper taking second and Miles Walk grabbing seventh. Skipper had three personal bests on the day, opening at 218 and then moving to 220 before ripping off his best throw of the day on his fourth attempt, 222-6/67.81m. That was just four inches behind USC's Remy Conaster, who won at 222-10/67.93m.
More impressively, Skipper moved all the way up to fourth on the UO career list.
"It felt good; it felt a little choppy compared to the other throws, but since it was better, I'm going to say it was better technically too," said Skipper. "I knew I had to come out and get a big one to put the pressure on everybody else."
Meanwhile Walk scored a pair of team points in one of the more inspirational performances on this Mother's Day. He secured a big PR at 196-11/60.02m that bumped him into seventh place overall. The two "fighter points" were even more poignant since Walk's mother has been battling late stage cancer back home in Georgia, and the senior became a Pac-12 qualifier for the first time in his career this weekend.
"Miles- I was so happy for Miles getting over 60 meters," said Skipper. "He's been working for that for the last four years. That was awesome."
The men then took the lead for good with six points in the 4x100 meter relay, where the team of Dior Mathis, Arthur Delaney, B.J. Kelley and Mike Berry placed third in 40.00, which was the sixth fastest time in school history.
The hammer and 4x100 set the tone for the day as the men rolled to the team title from there.
Following 4x100, it was Mac Fleet adding another six points in the 1,500 meters with a third place showing in 3:42.20. Colby Alexander had his second straight PR in the 1,500, finishing ninth in 3:44.67.
"Tactically, it was a tough race," said Fleet, a junior from San Diego, Calif. "I was feeling a little better as the race went on."
The men piled on another 14 points in the 110 meter hurdles with a 2-3 finish from Johnathan Cabral and Trevor Ferguson. Cabral ran 13.52, with Ferguson surprising in third with a lifetime best 14.32. Cabral came back later in the day with a runner-up finish in the 400 meter hurdles. The sophomore from Calabas, Calif., ran a personal best 50.50 that was the sixth best in school history and more importantly, accounted for 16 team points on the day.
The Ducks kept it coming with 12 more points in the 400 meters. Berry ran a seasonal-best in a runner-up showing in 45.14, while Kevin Anding timed 46.37 in a fifth place finish. That was the ninth fastest time in school history for the senior from Houston, Texas.
Delaney added on another five points in the 100 meters with a fourth place finish in 10.31. The sophomore from Barlow, Ore., then counted another three points in the 200, finishing sixth in 21.29.
Greer's 800 meter win highlighted a big event for the Ducks. The senior from Lake Oswego, Ore., was boxed in early, but moved through traffic and into the lead at the bell, pulling away over the final 400 meters to win easily in 1:49.48.
"I ran my race strategy, and on this day, I was the best guy in the field," said Greer. "I was going to go with 300 (meters) but I felt it was the right time to go when I did."
Junior Boru Guyota was fourth in 1:51.45, with sophomore Chad Noelle sixth in 1:52.11, as the Oregon accumulated another 18 team points.
More fighter points came in the triple jump and discus. In the triple jump, senior Tyler Pinkney placed sixth at 48-2/14.68m, with Ferguson seventh - his third different scoring event of the championships - at 48-0.5/14.64m.
Sam Crouser followed up his Pac-12 javelin championship from Friday with a sixth place showing in the discus at 173-6/52.89m.
The Oregon put a Mother's Day bow on the meet with a commanding win in the 4x400 meter relay. The team of Jack Galpin, Delaney, Anding and Berry won in a season-best 3:05.62. That was the sixth fastest time in school history.
Meanwhile, trailing Arizona by nearly 30 points after day one, the women began their comeback in the 4x100 meters. The Ducks won easily in a season best 43.81. Phyllis Francis led off, and then Oregon charged into the lead on English Gardner's second leg. Jenna Prandini and Chizoba Okodogbe kept the Ducks well ahead of the field over the final 200 meters as that quartet ran the third fastest time in school history.
The women added another 18 points in the 1,500 meters with Becca Friday taking second in 4:14.99, Anne Kesselring third in 4:15.44 and Jordan Hasay fifth in 4:15.53.
"I had a lot of fun out there today," said Friday, a senior from Bellingham, Wash. "The girls did what we needed to do."
Alyssa Moneverde added another five points with a solid fourth place showing in the 100 meter hurdles. The freshman from Fresno, Calif., ran 13.45 on Sunday.
After 11 women's events, Arizona led with 66 points, followed by Arizona State with 65 and Oregon with 63.5.
The women then took the lead in the team race for the first time with a 1-2 finish in the 400 meters. Francis won in a season-best 51.57, while Okodogbe ran a personal best in a runner-up finish in 52.22. That was the fourth fastest time in school history.
Prandini, a freshman from Clovis, Calif., then ran the race of her life to win the 100 meters in 11.46. She leaned at the tape to clip Kylie Price of UCLA, who crossed in 11.48.
That pushed Oregon's total to 91.50 points, with Arizona standing at 76.
"I just wanted to score some points for the team," said Prandini. "I'm just working hard, trying to be like English Gardner."
Shortly thereafter, Arizona stormed back into the lead with 21 points in the discus. With six events remaining, the Wildcats held a 97-91.5 edge over Oregon.
Arizona's lead was temporary as the Ducks reclaimed the advantage with 20 points in the 800 meters. Laura Roesler was commanding in winning her second straight Pac-12 title. The junior from Fargo, N.D., paced the field the entire way before putting on a burst of speed off the final turn which was all she needed to win in 2:06.51.
Kesselring was third in 2:07.54 in her second race of the day, while freshman Annie Leblanc was fifth in 2:08.27.
Those 20 points put Oregon in the lead for good with 111.5, followed by Arizona with 97 and ASU with 84.
After Sammie Clark cleared 13-0.25/3.97m to tie for fifth in the pole vault and up Oregon's advantage to 10 points, the Ducks hit the mother-lode on the women's side with a 1-2-3 sweep in the 200 meters to put the meet on ice.
Gardner, 24 hours after getting a false start in the 100 meters, ran with marked determination in winning her second consecutive Pac-12 200 crown.
The junior from Voorhees, N.J., flew off the corner and won in a Pac-12 meet, stadium and school record 22.62. That was also the third-fastest time overall in Pac-12 history.
"The 200 was great," said Gardner. "It gave me joy to win the trophy coming home with an "O" on it.
"I'm really satisfied that I got to let loose and do some running."
She was followed home by Francis in 22.77 and Prandini in 23.33 as Oregon moved far enough in front of Arizona to clinch the title. Francis, a junior from Queens, N.Y., climbed to No. 2 at Oregon, while Prandini stood fifth.
With the meet locked up, the Ducks pulled back in the 5,000 and 4x400 meters on a hot day in Los Angeles.
More importantly, with a pair of team championship trophies in hand, all the Ducks had good news to share when they called home with happy Mother's Day greetings.