LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Sam Crouser won the men’s javelin for the second straight year and the Ducks corralled “fighter points” across the board, highlighting Oregon’s first day of the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships Saturday at Loker Stadium and Cromwell Field.
And even despite the loss of two-time defending 100 meter champion English Gardner, both the men and women of Oregon had strong opening showings.
“It’s championship season,” said Oregon head coach Robert Johnson. “There are ebbs and flows and highs and lows.
“Overall I think there were more highs than lows.”
In pursuit of their seventh consecutive conference title, the men wrapped the day in second place with 49.5 points, trailing only UCLA with 53.5. Washington was fourth with 37 and Colorado was fourth with 34.
The women were fifth after day one with 30.5 points, nearly 30 points back of Arizona’s lead of 60. Arizona State was second at 45, UCLA third with 33, Stanford fourth with 32, with the Ducks next and Colorado sixth with 27 points.
Crouser easily defended his title with a throw of 249-4/76.01m on his fourth attempt. That was nearly 22 feet longer than runner-up Joe Zimmerman of Washington’s best throw. The men also got some unexpected points – or “fighter points” as coined by Elijah Greer at this meet a year ago, when Ethan Powell delivered a third place toss of 222-8/67.88m. That was a season best for the junior from Tenmile, Ore.
“I think the men had a good day all around,” said Crouser. “Ethan pulled off a big one so that was fun. It was a good day for Oregon.”
In addition to the javelin, the Ducks also pocketed eight points from Trevor Ferguson in the long jump. The sophomore from Oregon City, Ore., leapt 24-6.25/7.47m on his third attempt, which held up for eight team points.
“It’s amazing,” said Ferguson, who also qualified for the finals of the 110 meter hurdles. “I had a really good couple weeks of practice.
“On that third jump, it was a little nerve-wracking, but I just tried to stay relaxed and get a good one.”
The Ducks tacked on another 13 points in the 10,000 meters as junior Parker Stinson pushed hard for a second place finish in 28:56.20, and freshman Matthew Melancon coming through with an unexpected fourth place finish in 29:38.36.
Oregon also counted another 2.5 points in the pole vault, as senior Austin Ouderkirk tied for sixth at 16-7.25/5.06m.
The men were particularly efficient in the preliminary races.
Three Ducks advanced in both the 800 and 1,500 meters.
In the 800, Greer, the defending champion, pulled away from the field with 200 meters to go and coasted to a preliminary victory in 1:49.96. He’ll be joined by Boru Guyota, who was second in his heat in 1:49.20 to advance automatically, and Chad Noelle, who took third in heat two in 1:50.49 and advanced on time.
The Ducks were just as impressive in the 1,500 where Mac Fleet and Matt Miner ran second and third in heat one to advance. Fleet, a junior from San Diego, Calif., finished in 3:47.19, with Miner, a senior from Ashland, Ore., third in 3:47.49. Senior Patrick Todd was fifth in that heat in 3:48.26 and was the fastest non-qualifier.
In the faster of the two heats, sophomore Colby Alexander finished seventh, but advanced on time in a personal best 3:44.23.
Johnathan Cabral advanced in both the 110 and 400 meter hurdles, while Arthur Delaney moved along in both the 100 and 200 meters. Cabral, the defending 110 meter hurdle champion won his heat in 13.54 to advance, while Ferguson was second in that race in 14.37 to proceed on time.
Cabral then came back and won his 400 hurdle heat in a personal best 51.66.
Delaney, a key point scorer in 2012, squeezed into both finals. The sophomore from Gresham, Ore., took third in his 100 heat in 10.30 and advanced on time, and then was the final qualifier in the 200, running 21.02.
The Ducks also had two qualifiers in the 400 meters. Mike Berry, the 2011 Pac-10 champion, won his heat in 46.49, with Kevin Anding on his shoulder in second in a personal best 46.59.
“I’m really excited for tomorrow,” said Ferguson. “We came out here to try hard and take care of business.”
Meanwhile, the women collected “fighter points” throughout the day starting with Jillian Weir’s fourth place finish in the hammer all the way through Megan Patrignelli’s fifth place finish in the steeple.
They may need every one of those points to with a fifth straight Pac-12 championship after Gardner was knocked out of the 100 meters due to a false start.
“As soon as you saw one person go down, you had someone else jump to the forefront,” said Johnson. “That is what makes a championship team, with the emphasis on team.”
Weir got the day off to a solid beginning by setting three personal bests in the hammer, the last of which on her final throw bumped her into fourth place in the final standing for five team points.
The sophomore from Sunnyvale, Calif., opened with a PR of 201, and then improved to 208 before her best throw of the day landed at 212-3/64.70m. That was the second-best throw in school history by a centimeter.
Jenna Prandini continued the trend with a collegiate best jump of 20-2.25/6.15m in the long jump to finish fifth and earn four points. That was also the 10th best long jump in school history. The freshman from Clovis, Calif., came back later in the day to win her 100 meter semifinal in 11.36 and advance in the 200.
The women also added another nine points in the women’s javelin where Elizabeth Brenner grabbed third with a throw of 150-0/45.71m and then Annie Whitfield came through with a personal best throw of 145-11/44.49m as the freshman from Sweet Home, Ore., picked up three team points.
“Annie - I was so proud of her,” said Brenner. “Coach told us that English had fouled so we had to go get some extra points.”
Then it was the high jump where Lauren Crockett and Chancey Summers combined for 8.5 points. Crockett, a sophomore from Ogden, Utah, was fourth after clearing 5-10/1.78m, while Summers, a sophomore from Estacada, Ore., tied for fifth at 5-8.75/1.75m.
Patrignelli got things going on the track with her fifth place finish in the women’s steeplechase in a personal best 10:14.41. That was the fourth-best time in school history for the junior from Monroe, N.Y.
With the notable exception of Gardner in the 100, the women had an outstanding day in the preliminary rounds.
All three women advanced in the 200, 800 and 1,500 meters.
In the 1,500, Becca Friday and Anne Kesselring ran 1-2 in the first heat to advance. Friday won in 4:26.08, with Kesselring next in 4:26.13. Two-time defending champion Jordan Hasay eased to victory in her heat in 4:19.97.
“Prelims are almost harder to relax in than finals,” said Hasay. “But it’s all about getting through to finals.”
In the 800, defending champion Laura Roesler easily won her heat in 2:09.51, with freshman Annie Leblanc third and advancing on time in 2:09.81. Kesselring came back from the 1,500 to finish second in her heat ad advance automatically in 2:09.12.
Then Gardner exacted revenge for the disqualification in the 100 by winning her 200 meter heat in a season best 23.27. Just as impressive was Phyllis Francis, who won her heat in a personal best 22.93, followed by Prandini in a personal best 23.33. Francis’ time was the third fastest time in school history, while Prandini jumped to fifth.
“My teammates came out and they pulled through and made up for my mistake,” said Gardner, who added that she had not false started since she was eight years old.
Francis and Chizoba Okodogbe finished 1-2 in the 400 meters as both runners advanced. Francis won in 52.21, while Okodogbe took second in 53.10. Both were season best times.
Alyssa Monteverde continued her strong season in the 100 meter hurdles. She ran second in her heat in 13.40 and advanced to the final on time.
“We’ve got to fight even harder tomorrow,” said Laura Roesler. “We’re definitely going to fight.”