The top-ranked Tigers had a nearly flawless meet to win the 2012 national title with 76 points. Oregon was the runner-up for the fourth straight year, scoring 62 points. That was the most the Ducks have ever totaled under the current scoring format that dates to the mid-1980’s. Their previous best was 57 in 2010.
"We came out and competed hard, (LSU) came out and competed hard," said Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna. "LSU just came out and had a great meet.
"You always think you could have done a little better here or done something a little differently there, but in the end, 62 points - the women really had a pretty good meet. LSU just had a better one."
Oregon’s total would have won the NCAA title five of the last seven years. Three-time defending champ Texas A&M was third with 38 points and Clemson and Kansas tied for fourth with 28.
The Ducks arrived at their final score thanks to a command performance in the 4x400 meter relay.
The team of English Gardner, Chizoba Okodogbe, Laura Roesler and Phyllis Francis won in a meet-record 3:24.54. Gardner, who became the Ducks’ first NCAA 100 meter champion on Friday, led off and brought the Ducks around the oval in the lead in 50.81. Okodogbe took the next leg in 51.53 and the Ducks were second behind LSU at the halfway point.
Roesler took the third leg in 51.86, closing up on the Tigers. That left Francis to bring home the win. She reeled in LSU’s Jonique Day on the backstretch and caught her coming off the turn. Francis closed in 50.15, as the Ducks clipped the Tigers by .05.
"We knew it was going to be really close," said Francis. "We really wanted it this year."
The Ducks’ time was not only a meet record, but also a Pac-12 record and the second-fastest time in collegiate history. Only Texas’ 3:23.75 from 2004 is faster than what the Ducks ran on Saturday.
"We are a team that fights all the way to the end," said Gardner. "We put a lot of faith in Phyllis. That was a really big win."
Jordan Hasay was a key part of a women’s 1,500 meters that lived up to its billing as one of the most exciting finals. The field remained tightly bunch through the bell lap before Florida State’s Amanda Winslow broke away early on the final lap.
That set in motion a wild 200 meters that saw Hasay, Katie Flood of Washington and Emily Infeld of Georgetown run down Winslow, and the three runners came off the final turn three across. Flood, the hometown favorite from Des Moines, had just enough in the tank to win in 4:13.79, with Infeld next in 4:14.02 and Hasay third in 4:14.03. The Ducks’ Becca Friday was ninth in 4:16.38.
"It was an exciting race," said Hasay. "It certainly lived up to expectations.
"My main mistake was running a lot in lane 2. I was trying to get Katie down the stretch, but she was holding strong. It was a good lesson for me. I was trying to be patient and worried about getting an opening."
The Ducks also claimed five points in the 4x100 relay with a fourth-place finish. Francis, Gardner, Lauryn Newson and Amber Purvis ran 43.58.
Alex Kosinski fought for a point in the 5,000 meters on a hot day in Des Moines. The senior from El Dorado Hills, Calif., took eighth in 16:24.42. Freshman Allie Woodward finished 13th in 16:43.92.
In the triple jump, Newson had a best leap of 42-9.75/13.05m and finished 11th.
The Duck men, who did not have any entries on Saturday, finished tied for ninth with Texas with 22 points.
"Not a bad team finish considering how many freshmen and sophomores we had here," said Lananna.
Florida won the men’s team title with 50 points, followed by LSU with 48, Texas A&M with 40 and Florida State with 38.