Cross CountrySports

Ducks lace up for Dellinger Invitiational



Blair Ryan

The Oregon men’s and women’s cross country teams will be sporting a new look for the fifth annual Bill Dellinger Invitational.

The race is scheduled for Saturday on Pre’s Trail at Alton Baker Park.

Thanks to the student-athletes’ initiative and an assist from Nike, the Ducks will don white uniforms with pink lettering in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Oregon’s newest uniforms were patterned after a design from the Ducks’ 1969 NCAA title team.

Senior A.J. Acosta came up with the idea after watching NFL games and seeing the various ways the color pink was blended into uniforms and apparel to honor the cause.

“I thought wearing pink would be a great idea. The guys were very supportive,” Acosta said.

“As far as they know, the Ducks’ cross country team is the first to make a statement against breast cancer with their uniforms.”

“I personally know several people that have been affected by breast cancer,” sophomore Jordan Hasay said. “I’ll be dedicating my race to them.”

Members of the team are not the only ones excited about the prospect of running against breast cancer; coaches and athletic department personnel have been on board since the start.

“The fortunate thing is, we have great students that are good athletes and also good members of the community,” head coach Vin Lananna said. “This is a big deal for them.”

Following the Dellinger, the Oregon athletic department will auction off the uniforms online, with proceeds benefiting the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute. That gives the No. 2 women and the No. 3 men one full race to make a statement in pink.

Both teams’ strong performances at the Notre Dame Invitational — the men first, and the women took second — gave the Ducks boosts in confidence at the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association polls.

“We’re at a really good place,” senior Alex Kosinski said.

The Oregon women will compete against Oregon State, Portland, Portland State, Idaho and the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) in a 6,000-meter race where “the University of Oregon should do quite well,” according to Lananna.

“For the men, Wisconsin is a strong, tough team,” he added. “This will be a dual-meet type (of race). Very close.”

The No. 11 Badgers will be sending most of their team to Eugene for the 8,000m men’s race, joining No. 8 Portland, Portland State, Willamette, Idaho and Guelph. The Pilots will be splitting their squad between Eugene and the Pre-Nationals Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind.

“It should be cool just to have (the Badgers) out (in Eugene),” junior Luke Puskedra said.

Ten men and 11 women have been entered into the Dellinger field for the Ducks. Five of the men and four of the women are true or redshirt freshman, as Lananna and his staff look to test the teams’ depth.

“We have a lot of young guys, but it’s tough because we don’t have experience,” Acosta said.

Oregon has a built-in competitive advantage with the meet being run at Pre’s Trail. The inaugural Dellinger Invitational was held at Pre’s Trail before moving the meet to Springfield Country Club for the past three years. The Ducks frequently train on Pre’s Trail outside of meets.

The Dellinger will precede Oregon Track Club Elite’s annual fundraiser, the Pre’s Trail X-C Challenge. Combining high school and master’s races, the X-C Challenge raises money toward the maintenance of Pre’s Trail.

The men’s race begins at 11:45 a.m., followed by the women’s race at 12:30 p.m.

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