Cross CountrySports

Ducks take on top teams at Regionals



Jack Hunter

Rare is the day in the cross country season when an individual or team receives a potential do-over.

Yet the Oregon women — demoted to No. 7 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll — will have that opportunity during Saturday’s NCAA West Regional cross country championships. The Ducks are hosting the event this year at Springfield Country Club.

The West Regional has six ranked teams on the women’s side but just one — San Francisco — from outside of the Pacific-10 Conference. Four of the Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top 11: No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Arizona, No. 7 Oregon and No. 11 Washington.

At the Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago, Stanford won the team title with 62 points. The Wildcats were second with 65 points, and the Ducks and Huskies tied with 68 — the closest race in Pac-10 history.

“That race served as a good motivation race for us,” said senior Alex Kosinski, who finished fourth at the meet. “We were so close that it was definitely within our reach.”

What is within reach on Saturday is an automatic bid to the NCAA Cross Country Championships — two, to be precise — for the top two team finishers.

Oregon would be happy, but not enthusiastically so, with a team title in the 6,000-meter women’s race. Still, a third-place finish with six points of separation is too small of a difference to be comfortable with.

“Six points — that’s two or three people. That’s nothing,” redshirt freshman Lanie Thompson said. “We know that every person counts at regionals.”

The Oregon men are well aware of that fact, having missed out on an automatic bid last year.

The Ducks were selected with an at-large bid to NCAAs after finishing third last season to Stanford and Portland but followed it up with a runner-up NCAA Championships finish.

No. 2 Stanford recently ceded its No. 1 ranking in the USTFCCCA poll to Oklahoma State but remains a visible threat. Elliott Heath, Jacob Riley and Chris Derrick finished 1-2-3 to lead the Cardinal to an easy team title over the Ducks at Pac-10s.

“Stanford’s top three is real strong; their whole team is strong,” said junior Luke Puskedra, the fourth-place finisher at the meet. “They made a late surge that I didn’t really respond to as well as I would have liked.”

Oregon enters the West Regionals ranked No. 3 in the nation; the Pilots, West Coast Conference champions for the 32nd consecutive year, are No. 12.

Cal is the only other ranked men’s team in the field, at No. 22.

The men’s race is 10,000 meters long, the longest of the season for the Oregon men; they will face the same distance at NCAAs.

“We’ve always started a countdown at the beginning of the season,” senior Matthew Centrowitz said. “Each race is minus-8K, minus-8K. Now it’s at 20K. We’re getting there. Two long races.”

Club Running to NIRCA Nationals

While the Oregon men’s and women’s cross country teams will be competing for the right to go to NCAAs, the Oregon club running teams will be headed to Bloomington, Ind., for the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association national cross country meet. The race will be held on the cross country course at Indiana University.

The men’s 8,000m championship race will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the women’s 6,000m championship race at noon.

The Duck women are ranked second among the event’s top 10 teams, while the men are ranked sixth. Rare is the day in the cross country season when an individual or team receives a potential do-over.

Yet the Oregon women — demoted to No. 7 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll — will have that opportunity during Saturday’s NCAA West Regional cross country championships. The Ducks are hosting the event this year at Springfield Country Club.

The West Regional has six ranked teams on the women’s side but just one — San Francisco — from outside of the Pacific-10 Conference. Four of the Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top 11: No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Arizona, No. 7 Oregon and No. 11 Washington.

At the Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago, Stanford won the team title with 62 points. The Wildcats were second with 65 points, and the Ducks and Huskies tied with 68 — the closest race in Pac-10 history.

“That race served as a good motivation race for us,” said senior Alex Kosinski, who finished fourth at the meet. “We were so close that it was definitely within our reach.”

What is within reach on Saturday is an automatic bid to the NCAA Cross Country Championships — two, to be precise — for the top two team finishers.

Oregon would be happy, but not enthusiastically so, with a team title in the 6,000-meter women’s race. Still, a third-place finish with six points of separation is too small of a difference to be comfortable with.

“Six points — that’s two or three people. That’s nothing,” redshirt freshman Lanie Thompson said. “We know that every person counts at regionals.”

The Oregon men are well aware of that fact, having missed out on an automatic bid last year.

The Ducks were selected with an at-large bid to NCAAs after finishing third last season to Stanford and Portland but followed it up with a runner-up NCAA Championships finish.

No. 2 Stanford recently ceded its No. 1 ranking in the USTFCCCA poll to Oklahoma State but remains a visible threat. Elliott Heath, Jacob Riley and Chris Derrick finished 1-2-3 to lead the Cardinal to an easy team title over the Ducks at Pac-10s.

“Stanford’s top three is real strong; their whole team is strong,” said junior Luke Puskedra, the fourth-place finisher at the meet. “They made a late surge that I didn’t really respond to as well as I would have liked.”

Oregon enters the West Regionals ranked No. 3 in the nation; the Pilots, West Coast Conference champions for the 32nd consecutive year, are No. 12.

Cal is the only other ranked men’s team in the field, at No. 22.

The men’s race is 10,000 meters long, the longest of the season for the Oregon men; they will face the same distance at NCAAs.

“We’ve always started a countdown at the beginning of the season,” senior Matthew Centrowitz said. “Each race is minus-8K, minus-8K. Now it’s at 20K. We’re getting there. Two long races.”

Club Running to NIRCA Nationals

While the Oregon men’s and women’s cross country teams will be competing for the right to go to NCAAs, the Oregon club running teams will be headed to Bloomington, Ind., for the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association national cross country meet. The race will be held on the cross country course at Indiana University.

The men’s 8,000m championship race will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the women’s 6,000m championship race at noon.

The Duck women are ranked second among the event’s top 10 teams, while the men are ranked sixth.

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