Cross country earns NCAA berths with strong performances at West Regionals
Jordan Hasay won her second consecutive race — and second career race as a Duck — and the No. 3 Oregon men beat No. 2 Stanford by two points as both Duck cross country teams finished in the top two at the NCAA West Regional Championships, held Saturday at Springfield Country Club.
The No. 7 Oregon women scored 77 points, second only to No. 11 Washington’s 73. As a result, both the men’s and women’s teams receive automatic bids to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 22.
“We don’t pull out all the stoppers (for the regional meet), but at the same time we’re going to try to run to win,” head coach Vin Lananna said. “Winning is a habit.”
The course for the 6,000-meter women’s race and 10,000-meter men’s race was soft and muddy, with traction issues exacerbated by a steady rainfall during the men’s race. Multiple runners slipped and fell.
“I am glad I have been doing my squats,” Oregon junior Luke Puskedra joked. “The course was dipping a lot and there were a few tough turns.”
Fortunately for Lananna, not one of them were Ducks.
Oregon started off strong in the women’s race, as Hasay and Alex Kosinski quickly advanced to the front of a lead pack that took its time separating from the rest of the runners.
“I was told not to go for the lead at the beginning,” Kosinski said. “I was sitting there thinking, someone, please take it.”
Tara Erdmann of Loyola Marymount finally took it with about 1,500 meters remaining. Kosinski, Hasay and Deborah Maier of Cal followed.
With 800 meters to go, Hasay had affixed herself to Maier’s shoulder and passed her, winning the race in 20:01.90. Maier finished second in 20:06.81; Kosinski was third in 20:09.53.
“It was just about relaxing and finishing. I wanted to come back and win again and then hopefully be a contender there (at NCAAs),” Hasay said. “I was confident enough in my finish.”
Zoe Buckman notched a 10th-place finish for the Ducks, in 20:24.73, but Oregon’s next scorer — redshirt freshman Melanie Thompson, in 27th place (20:47.57) — crossed the finish line after five Washington runners. Each of the Huskies’ scorers would finish in the top 21.
Sophomore Anne Kesselring (36th place, 21:02.30) was Oregon’s final scorer on the day. Also competing for the Ducks were Claire Michel (48th, 21:10.22) and Becca Friday (59th, 21:22.00).
As expected, the results from the Pacific-10 Conference Championships of two weeks ago proved to be a good predictor of the West Regional results. No. 4 Stanford scored 86 points for third place, followed by No. 6 Arizona with 90.
A group of 10 runners broke out early in the men’s race to form a lead pack at an accelerated pace, but, as if agreed upon by treaty, slowed down as the rest of the competitors caught up. As the race continued, the top competitors eventually created some separation.
Michael Coe of Cal pushed the pace with 1,000 meters remaining, and a small cadre followed suit. In the end, however, it was Trevor Dunbar of Portland who emerged victorious (29:57.89), sprinting across the finish line with Arizona’s Stephen Sambu (29:57.95) by his side.
“I didn’t really know how my team was doing, so I just figured any point was going to be important. I just felt so good the entire race — it was so slow,” Dunbar said.
Coe finished third, and Puskedra followed him across the line in fourth (30:03.29). Duck fans did not have to wait long to cheer on another green-and-yellow finisher, as Matthew Centrowitz crossed the line in sixth place (30:14.35).
The threat of competition, however, made itself apparent as Stanford’s Chris Derrick, Elliott Heath and Jake Riley finished seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively. Danny Mercado (11th place, 30:16.58) and A.J. Acosta (16th, 30:31.65) gave Oregon a sense of security, while Ben DeJarnette’s 28th-place finish (30:41.28) sealed the team title.
Parker Stinson (31st, 30:48.57) and Bryce Burgess (91st, 31:40.95) also competed for the Ducks.
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