Cross CountrySports

Ducks finish second at Pac-10s

Blair Ryan

Nicole Blood became the first Oregon woman in 17 years to win the individual title at the Pacific-10 Conference Cross Country Championships on Friday, as the No. 8 Ducks significantly narrowed the achievement gap over team titlists No. 1 Washington.

The last 1,000m of the women’s 6,000m race was a fight to the finish between Blood, Oregon freshman Jordan Hasay, and Washington sophomore Kendra Schaaf, last year’s individual Pac-10 champion. Schaaf held a commanding lead for much of the race — again, reminiscent of her performance at the 2008 Pac-10s — but Blood stayed patient, passing Schaaf and winning the race in 19:41.71.

Schaaf crossed the tape in second place in 19:46.17, while Hasay followed on her heels in third (19:48.97).

“Jordan, Alex and I were all in the lead pack and worked well together,” Blood, a native of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., said in a media release. “After the second lap, Jordan moved past Mel (Lawrence of Washington) and I decided to go with her so we could continue to work together and reel in Schaaf.

“Then with 1,000 meters left, I decided to move hard on Schaaf and it felt good so I just kept going. That was probably decisive moment in the race.”

Oregon and Washington each had the requisite five scoring runners within the top 20 places, but the Huskies managed to sneak four into the top eight: Schaaf, Lawrence (fourth, 19:49.02), sophomore Christine Babcock (fifth, 19:58.82) and senior Katie Follett (eighth, 20:08.04).

Washington junior Kailey Campbell crossed the line in 16th place (20:31.67) for a 25-point total, just ahead of the Ducks’ 34.

Kosinski (ninth, 20:09.86) and sophomores Claire Michel (12th, 20:22.39) and Bronwyn Crossman (17th, 20:32.30) rounded out the Ducks’ scorers.

“Every single woman came out and gave 100 percent. They ran tough and hard today and we gave Washington a real scare,” Oregon head cross country coach Vin Lananna said in a media release. “Much better than last year.”

Also competing for the Oregon women were freshman Anne Kesselring (23rd, 20:39.42), senior Lauren Zaludek (29th, 20:49.80), junior Zoe Buckman (36th, 21:04.83) and freshman Taylor Wallace (44th, 21:25.03).

Arizona State edged out Stanford in the battle for third place, picking up 110 points to the
Cardinal’s 111. California finished in fifth place with 128 points. No. 1 beats out No. 2  Stanford sophomore Chris Derrick captured the men’s Pac-10 individual title in 22:35.41 seconds on the 8,000m course as the top-ranked Cardinal asserted themselves, scoring 28 points to the 45 of No. 2 Oregon, snapping the Ducks’ consecutive conference title streak at three.

“We are really excited about this,” Cardinal head coach Jason Dunn said in a media release. “It is nice to see Stanford get back on the podium. We knew it would be a fast race and we prepared for every situation. The goal was to go out there and run and compete as a team.”

Derrick outlasted Arizona State’s Brandon Bethke (second, 22:41.43), teammate Elliott Heath (third, 22:52.01), and Oregon’s Luke Puskedra (fourth, 23:05.04) and Matthew Centrowitz (fifth, 23:09.35) to take the individual crown.

The Ducks were pleasantly surprised by the race of senior Jordan McNamara, competing in his first-ever Pac-10 Championships in cross country. The Auburn, Wash.-native finished in eighth place in 23:21.14, Oregon’s third scoring runner.

“I’m especially pleased for Jordan McNamara,” Lananna said. “That was a great way to finish as a senior.”

Juniors Danny Mercado (13th, 23:34.85) and A.J. Acosta (15th, 23:38.50) rounded out the Ducks’ scorers. The other Oregon runners competing were Diego Mercado (32nd, 24:09.69), Mac Fleet (33rd, 24:11.74), Bryce Burgess (34th, 24:13.08) and Kenny Klotz (37th, 24:27.23).

“We had a lot of good things happen for the guys,” said Lananna. “We ran hard and we ran better than we did two weeks ago. We keep moving in the right direction and that’s the goal.”

Behind the strong running of Bethke, the Sun Devils took third place with 88 points. Washington (119 points) and UCLA (122) finished fourth and
fifth, respectively.

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