SportsTrack & Field

Ducks send 22 to indoor championships

Courtesy of Geoff Thurner

The No. 1-ranked Oregon women and the No. 2-ranked Oregon men have a combined 25 entries for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, held today and tomorrow in Fayetteville, Ark.

The women have 16 total entries in the field, including the distance medley relay and the 4×400-meter relay.

Senior Nicole Blood (3,000 meters, 5,000 meters), sophomore Amber Purvis (60-meter dash, 200 meters) and freshman Jordan Hasay (mile, 3,000m) are slated to compete in multiple events for the Ducks. Purvis will likely participate in the 4x400m relay, while Hasay is expected to run either the 1,200 meters opening leg or the 1,600 meters anchor leg of the distance medley relay, which has the top seed entering the meet.

“I feel like our training has definitely prepared us to double,” Hasay said, who is seeded third in the mile. “I doubled up at Texas (at the Texas A&M Challenge on January 29 to 30), and after some races, I’ve done workouts back-to-back.

“It’s going to be a really fun weekend. As a team, we’re just really, really excited. We have a great group going into the meet and we’re looking really strong.”

The Oregon women have a significant chance to take home their first national title indoors and the first of any kind since 1987 (cross country). Such an accomplishment would mean a great step forward for a program often seen as lagging behind the Duck men.

“The women’s team has done amazing. I’m honestly shocked by how good everyone’s doing. Those girls inspire me,” senior Brianne Theisen said, the second-seeded pentathlete in the field. “Watching some of those freshmen like Anne (Kesselring) and Jordan coming in and running amazing times, and seniors like Nicole, Keshia (Baker) doing awesome things … I think things like that really get the energy flowing.”

In possible defense of their indoor national title from last season, the Oregon men also possess a dynamic combination of youth and experience among their nine entries.

Freshmen Mac Fleet (mile) and Elijah Greer (800 meters) are among the top three seeds in their events and will both likely compete in the men’s DMR.

“Those two, they were able to come in right away and really mesh with the team,” redshirt junior A.J. Acosta said, who will compete in the mile and DMR. “We have tons of All-Americans and members of national championship teams. That maturity and experience really helps those guys.”

Two of those All-Americans, seniors Andrew Wheating (800m) and Ashton Eaton (heptathlon), are the top seeds in their events. Wheating may be a DMR participant, while Eaton could be scheduled for the 4x400m relay in addition to his seven events.

The Oregon coaching staff may opt to hold the men back from possible overexertion, even if a national title is potentially in sight. Were it up to the Duck athletes, no one would have to go above and beyond to secure the program’s second-consecutive indoor national title.

“It means a lot. We want to defend it, and like I said, (it’s my) senior year,” said Chad Barlow, who will participate in the 4x400m relay and the DMR. “We’re all pumped and ready to run hard.”

Lananna to remain in Eugene

Oregon assistant athletic director Vin Lananna did not travel to Fayetteville with the Ducks due to medical reasons, leaving the athletes without their head coach for the meet.

“I have been working with Dr. Donald Olson to address some blood-pressure-related issues all winter while continuing to work daily with the teams,” Lananna said in a media release. “I need to remain in Eugene while we continue working on it so that it can be resolved completely, and I expect to be ready to go when the outdoor season starts next week.”

The Register-Guard reported that assistant coaches Robert Johnson and Andy Powell will instruct the women’s team and the men’s team, respectively.

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