Cross CountrySports

Cheserek, Jenkins discuss first and second place finish in NCAA Cross Country Championships

Edward Cheserek, with a time of 30:19.4, repeated as NCAA Men’s Cross Country national champion on Saturday in Indiana.

This time, however, he was not the lone Duck on top. His teammate, Eric Jenkins, finished second with a time of 30:23.2. They became the first pair of teammates to finish in the top two in 25 years.

Both were a part of an enormous group of runners that stuck together for the first 8,000 meters of the race. However, they separated themselves in the final 2,000 meters, rounding a turn and sprinting up a final hill to the finish.

The team as a whole finished sixth.

Cheserek further cemented his legacy by joining Steve Prefontaine as the only Oregon cross country athlete to win back-to-back titles. On Tuesday, he was named the USTFCCA Cross Country Athlete of the Year for his efforts.

In preparation for the Indoor Track and Field season, the team plans to rest over Thanksgiving weekend and meet on Monday to discuss training.

Cheserek and Jenkins spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon about their memorable weekend.

On whether or not the championship has sunk in:

Cheserek: Yeah, that was my goal, actually. Being a back-to-back champion, it’s a lot of pressure on me. I was sitting there talking to my coaches like, I’m going to try my best and try to defend it.

On feeling pressured before and during the race:

Cheserek: When I’m racing, I don’t even think. Whatever happens, happens, but coming into the race three days before the race, I had a lot of pressure

On the team’s finish:

Jenkins: It would’ve been nice to do a little better as a team. I know coach Powell wasn’t pleased, so that was unfortunate, but at the end of the day it was still a big trip.

On Edward Cheserek’s Accomplishments:

I mean, it seems like it’s pretty routine for him now, but it’s great to be able to do training with him and to be able to put in the work day in and day out and then race well with him. He’s the best for a reason.

On joining Prefontaine as the only Duck to win consecutive titles:

Cheserek: It means a lot to me, but I still have time to maybe come back for another title by still staying healthy and running smart. That’s why I chose to come to Oregon. I had been reading a lot about him. He’s a runner who’s motivated me a lot.

On the slow pace to start to the race and massive pack of runners:

Cheserek: It was hard for me. To me, I don’t like to push the pace. (Everyone in the pack was) just waiting for me to push it. I just tried to lay back and go back at my pace.

I was definitely expecting it to be harder. You always want to tell yourself, like, it’s going to be really tough. So, you get in there and if it actually is tough you’re not surprised. Going through the last 5k and being so slow, I was like ‘OK this is going to be a pretty fast last two, last 3k,’ but I was happy with it.

On planning to finish first and second:

Jenkins: I remember coach Powell said at training camp this summer at Sun River, he’s like, ‘You know what? You and Ed are going one, two. That’s the goal.’ It sounds nice to say and to think about, but to actually do it is a whole different thing. I’m not surprised by it, but it’s still real nice to be able to put it all together.

On separating in the final 2,000 meters:

Cheserek: Coming into the race, that was my race plan according to my coach and he told me, ‘After 8k, just try to move as soon as possible’, especially when I turned the corner and the wind was towards my back.

Follow Jack Heffernan on Twitter @JHeffy13

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Jack Heffernan

Jack Heffernan