Track & Field - Page 17

Familiar faces light up Oregon Twilight track meet

It may have been two years since football favorite De’Anthony Thomas ran any form of track, but that didn’t stop him from making an impression during this weekend’s Oregon Twilight meet at Hayward Field. He proved to be a threat, even when “rusty.”

Freshman Thomas finished the 100-meter race in third with a time of 10.65 seconds, just in front of football teammate Dior Mathis. Washington’s Ryan Hamilton took first, winning in 10.51, and Oregon State football player Markus Wheaton took second in 10.58.

Later, during the 4×100 relay, Oregon took first with Thomas anchoring. But it wasn’t until the 200 meters that Thomas really shined, as he finished second just behind sophomore phenom Mike Berry. Berry won in 21.24, with Thomas trailing at 21.60.

“I think it went pretty good,” Thomas said. “I just have to come back next week and actually train for track.”

Back in 2010, he recorded the top high school 200-meter time in the country, a 20.61. Since then, he hasn’t competed in any track events, focusing mainly on football.

“I feel rusty; I just felt like, ‘Man, that took forever,’” Thomas said. Berry, though, was impressed with Thomas’ efforts.

“For being rusty he looked really good,” Berry said. “It just takes time.”

Berry, along with the rest of the team, is preparing for the Pac-12 Championship meet next weekend which will also be held at Hayward Field.

“I’m feeling good, we’ve been doing a lot of hard training,” Berry said. “My coach’s plan was for me to run faster later on in the season instead of earlier.”

More importantly, finishing strong at home seems to be a sentiment fostered by many team members.

“I just want to bring another championship here, and it’s at home,” Berry said. “It’s like our home field, our home-court advantage, we’re going to have a lot of fans here and we just want to put on a show.”

Other notable Ducks came through in the women’s 800, where junior Becca Friday had a new personal record, finishing in 2:05.61 and junior Jordan Hasay took a surprisingly reserved fourth, in 2:08.32.

“I think I maybe could have done a little better if it would have been a little faster,” Hasay said. “I just wanted to have fun and run a good race.”

Hasay, a two-time NCAA champion, has had a few bumps in recent weeks. However, her goals include much more than just the upcoming Pac-12 Championships. The U.S. Olympic Trials are just seven weeks away, and her plans include them.

“I mean, there is some talk of me giving up for the Trials and just focusing on that (Pac-12s),” Hasay said. “But we’re not changing the plan. I’m not just giving up; I’m still trying my best.”

It was also senior night at Hayward, and Oregon Track celebrated its 22 graduating members with flowers and a standing ovation from a packed crowd. Those graduating include 10-time All-American Luke Puskedra and five-time NCAA Champion Brianne Theisen.

The men’s 110-meter hurdles resulted in a second-place finish from Oregon freshman Jonathan Cabral, who barely trailed former Duck and Oregon Track Elite member Ashton Eaton. Eaton won in 13.57 seconds, with Cabral in 13.64.

Eaton was excited to return to Hayward, even with the Trials looming.

“(It’s great) to be able to still run with the Oregon guys, you know,” Eaton said.

The decathlete has been working hard in preparation for the trials, and looks forward to the next few weeks.

“Training is actually going really well,” Eaton said. “I feel really good. I’m just a little bit tired.”

Cabral, meanwhile, was proud of his accomplishments, regardless of his second place finish.

“Today I felt fairly clean and it looked pretty good I think,” Cabral said. “I love coming out here running against my friends, all the competition, I have all my friends cheering me on in the audience. It’s just awesome.”

Oregon women finish first in 4×400 heat on opening day of Penn Relays

On the first day of competition at the Penn Relays, the Oregon women’s 4×400 ran the best time in preliminary heats. The team was also the sixth-fastest in school history.

The team — made up of Devin Gosberry, Laura Roesler, Chizoba Okodogbe and Phyllis Francis — finished in 3:33.78, and will advance to the finals of the event on Saturday. The Ducks will take on Texas A&M, Louisiana State, Illinois, Texas Tech, Ohio State, Hampton and Georgetown.

One individual competitor also ran for the Ducks on Thursday. Bronwyn Crossman finished 10th in the women’s 5,000 meters with a time of 16:14.22.

The Ducks will return to action on Friday in a number of relay events throughout the day.

No.1 Oregon women, No. 13 men move toward championship dreams at Oregon Relays

With a series of crucial late-season meets quickly approaching, Oregon track and field put several hard weeks of training on the line at the Oregon Relays this weekend. The meet, which featured competitors from the high school, collegiate and professional ranks, took place on Friday and Saturday at Hayward field.

“The last two weeks have been a huge training phase for everyone, all events. For everyone,” Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna said. “I mean, lots and lots of volume. Hopefully we’re in good shape and ready to get going into these next meets, between the Pac-12 Championships here, going to the NCAA Championships, and whoever can last going into the Olympic Trials.”

FRIDAY

Friday’s performances were headlined by a professional — Sally Kipyego of Oregon Track Club Elite, who ran the world’s fastest outdoor time in the 1,500 meters this season. Despite a stiff wind whipping around the oval, the native Kenyan wowed 6,718 fans in attendance by crossing the finish line in 4:08.59.

Oregon junior Jordan Hasay, a former Pac-10 Champion in the 1,500, made her 2012 outdoor debut in the event. Hasay was the top collegian finisher and ran the third-fastest time in the NCAA this season (4:15.00).

Oregon went 1-2-3 in the men’s 200 meters, with freshman Arthur Delaney (20.95) edging out teammates Joeal Hotchkins (21.26) and Mike Berry (21.35) at the line. Delaney’s time was the ninth-fastest in school history.

Also on Friday, the men’s 1,500 meters produced a pair of personal-record performances from OTC Elite’s Tyler Mulder and the Ducks’ Trevor Dunbar. Mulder won in 3:42.53, with Dunbar — a sophomore transfer and two-time NCAA cross country All-American — finishing second in 3:43.12. Several Oregon competitors set personal bests in the event, including senior Travis Stanford (3:46.97) and freshmen Colby Alexander (3:47.13) and Chad Noelle (3:47.15).

Senior Brian Schaudt led the Ducks in the field events. The Philomath, Ore., native recorded a season-best 51-0.25/15.55m in winning the triple jump. Sophomore sprinter Phyllis Francis claimed the women’s 200 meters in 23.58, barely edging fellow Duck Lauryn Newson, who crossed the line in 23.67. Francis’ effort was the eighth-fastest time in school history.

Sophomore Parker Stinson put the cap on a successful Friday for the Ducks by winning the 5,000 meters in 14:02.93.

SATURDAY

On Saturday, Oregon continued to show significant progression in a series of events. On the track, senior heptathlete Brianne Theisen and sophomore sprinter English Gardner impressed for the No. 1 Oregon women. In the field, Chancey Summers and Lauryn Newson logged eye-opening performances as well.

The No. 13 men witnessed a multitude of personal and seasonal bests, headlined by a freshman sensation (hurdler Johnathan Cabral), a football player (sophomore Dior Mathis in the 100 meters), and the 2010 Gatorade boy’s track and field athlete of the year (freshman Sam Crouser in the javelin).

For the women, Summers finished the college section of the meet with a bang. The freshman cleared 6-0/1.83m on her first attempt in the high jump, good enough for the fifth-best clearance in the NCAA this season. The mark is also the fourth-highest clearance in Oregon history.

Competing in her first-ever triple jump, Newson surely exceeded expectations. The senior recorded 39-8.5/12.10m on her opening jump before improving to 40-11/12.48m on her third attempt. But her final jump would be her best, scoring 41-5.25/12.63m. That mark ranks as the third-best in school history.

On the track, Theisen — a two-time NCAA champion in the heptathlon — continued to garner positive results in her effort to shave valuable seconds off key events. A day after logging a personal best in the 200 meters (23.99), the senior from Humboldt, Sask., was a surprise winner in the women’s 400 meters, finishing in 53.72. That time was a personal record and ranks 10th on Oregon’s all-time list.

“Now, since we know we have a lot of strength for all the running, it’s just to maintain that,” Theisen said of her continued training in the heptathlon. “Whatever I have now is what I have for the rest of the year. Maintain it so I can can shape in the technical events, and get ready for the Pac-12s and then June, July and August.”

Theisen, a strong candidate to represent Canada at the 2012 Olympics in London, said she’d continue work on her technical events at the Payton Jordan Invitational. The meet takes place in Stanford, Calif., on April 29.

Gardner ran her first 100 meters of the 2012 outdoor season and won in a wind-aided 11.28 (the eighth-fastest time in the nation). While the effort was solid for an outdoor debut, the sophomore from Voorhees, N.J., wasn’t totally pleased with her time.

“Personally, I’m a little disappointed,” Gardner said. “Had my goals set a little bit higher. First one of the season, can’t ask for more. Came out with a good time.

“I wanted to just get out there, just compete, and run a little bit better than I have for you guys. Came up a little short, but hopefully the next one will be the one that moves me forward.”

Oregon swept the short hurdles on the strength of speedy efforts by Cabral and Lyndsay Pearson. Cabral won the men’s 110-meter hurdles in 13.83, while Pearson took the women’s 100-meter hurdles in 14.18. Both runners returned to sweep the 400-meter hurdles, with Cabral winning in a personal-best 52.78 and Pearson crossing the tape in 1:00.86.

Mathis, a sophomore from Detroit, ran his fastest 100 meters as a collegiate competitor (10.65) to claim victory. Despite grueling spring practices for football, Mathis said balancing the two sports is something he’s learned to do over time.

“I’ve been doing track and football since high school, back and forth,” Mathis said. “So I’m used to it, but college is definitely different from high school — it’s something to get used to a little bit, but I’m good.

“When I get back out there and actually start training, I know I can run a faster time than I even did today.”

Crouser, a freshman from Gresham, Ore., won the men’s javelin with a best effort of 243-8/74.27m. The highly decorated prep looked ready to step into the limelight as a collegian.

Overall, this weekend gave the track and field program a chance to gauge their training and solidify their team makeup going forward. Lananna said that lineup security, more than results, were the focus at the Oregon relays.

“That’s what the cool thing about these kind of meets are,” Lananna said. “It allows an opportunity to take a step back and look at what we need to do to be prohibitive favorites for the Pac-12s, and make sure we have every event covered. I will predict right now that the Pac-12s will be an incredibly competitive meet on both sides.”

What’s Lananna’s approach to winning the conference meet?

“We have to fire on all cylinders, so we’ll do some cool stuff as we get into the Pac-12s,” Lananna said. “We’re going to try to maximize every point we can.”

Ducks Sweep Pepsi Invitational

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Sean Larson, EDN Sports

Before the start of Saturday’s Pepsi Team Invitational at Hayward Field, a video featuring the hit song “Run This Town,” played on the video board. That is exactly what the Ducks did, winning both the men’s and women’s competitions with relative ease.

Oregon's Johnathan Cabral celebrates a first place finish and flashes the "O" to Ducks fans (Photo credit: Alex Shoemaker)

The first event of the day, the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase, featured the debut of Kimber Mattox, a senior transfer from Willamette University. Mattox and teammate Taylor Wallace were able to work together throughout the race, leaving the competition far behind.

Mattox would win in 10:15.05, with Wallace finishing in second in 10:23.16. Mattox’s time was good enough for third on Oregon’s all-time list.

“It was a great race,” said Mattox. “It was nice to be out there with my teammate Taylor (Wallace). We worked together and tried to do what we could.”

In the women’s 1,500 meters, Oregon junior Becca Friday jumped out to an early lead with a fast first lap of 66 seconds.

“It was a little fast, that first lap,” said Friday. “I didn’t really mean to go that fast.”

Oregon and Texas A&M in the women's 400 meter dash (Photo credit: Alex Shoemaker)

Trailing right behind Friday was Washington sophomore Megan Goethals. With 600 meters to go, Goethals tried to take the lead, but Friday sensed the move and refused to let her pass. Friday would barely edge out Goethals, winning in 4:20.21, with Goethals finishing right behind in 4:20.91. Friday’s time was fourth best in the NCAA this season.

“I could tell that she wanted it too,” said Friday. “I was just racing to win.”

Sometimes it’s not the shortest, but the longest events of the day that provide the biggest fireworks. That is exactly what Oregon senior Alex Kosinski provided in the 5,000 meter race.

Almost immediately, Kosinski and Natosha Rogers of Texas A&M took a substantial lead, eventually building that lead to a full 100 meters in the first mile. For nearly the entire race, Kosinski sat comfortably in second place right on the heels of Rogers, itching to make her move.

“We had a plan going in that I had to sit no matter the pace,” said Kosinksi. “I wasn’t allowed to kick it till 600 (meters) to go.”

Every lap she would look at her coach, and every lap he would tell her to stick to the plan. Finally, with 600 meters to go, Kosinski was allowed to take off. She made her move, leaving Rogers behind in the dust.

Allison Woodward (left) and Alex Kosinski (right) run the women's 5,000 meter race (Photo credit: Alex Shoemaker)

Kosinski won the race in 15:36.90, an outdoor person record by 21 seconds. Her time was also good enough for third on Oregon’s all time list for the 5000, behind Kathy Hayes’ 15:23.03 in 1985 and Annette Hand’s 15:34.55 in 1988. As she crossed the line, Kosinski was all smiles.

“I really like to win, but a win and the time is just a double bonus,” said Kosinski. “I was just so happy I almost started crying.”

The Women of Oregon also took care of business in the sprinting events. Sophomore English Gardner won the 200 meters in 23.24, while sophomore Phyllis Francis won the 400 meters in 52.99.

On the men’s side, a strong 1-2 finish from Trevor Dunbar and Chris Kwiatkowski in the 5,000 meters helped the Ducks notch up the win. Dunbar won in 13:51.79, while Kwiatkowski coming in second in 14:04.38.

In the 800 meters, the Ducks notched up another 1-2 finish, with Travis Thompson winning in 1:51.08, and Boru Guyota right behind in 1:51.09.

Oregon’s Elijah Greer set a personal best in the 1,500 meter race, winning in 3:45.84. Greer was able to hold off Washington’s Ryan Soberanis who finished in 3:46.94. Chad Noelle of Oregon took third in 3:45.84.

The final points of the day for Oregon came in the 4×400 meter relay, with Oregon winning in 3:08.90, barely edging out Texas A&M who finished in 3:08.98.

Men's hurdles (Photo credit: Alex Shoemaker)

When the final points were tallied, the top-ranked Women of Oregon won in a landslide, earning 221.5 points. Washington finished second with 157, #5 Texas A&M was third with 149.5, and UCLA finishing fourth with 135. Oregon’s 221.5 points were the second-highest in meet history.

On the men’s side, the 16th ranked Men of Oregon finished first with 204 points. #6 Texas A&M was second with 190, followed by Washington with 138 and UCLA with 134.

The Ducks will travel to the John Knight Twilight in Monmouth on Friday night before returning to Hayward Field the following weekend for the Oregon Relays.

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