Back to the Books: Where each Oregon sport ranks nationally
**Editor’s note: This story will appear in the Emerald’s “Back to the Books” edition, available Monday in locations throughout Eugene.**
Even the most casual observer of college sports knows that the Oregon football program is thriving.
Oregon football has played in 10 straight bowl games, including a record four consecutive BCS bowls from 2009 to 2012. With their flashy uniforms and fast-tempo, high-octane attack, the Ducks are the most recognizable college football team of the past decade.
While the football team continues its quest for its first national title, other Oregon programs have dominated in their own rights.
The Oregon men’s and women’s outdoor track and field programs won national championships last year.
The men clinched their second consecutive national title when eight-time NCAA champion Edward Cheserek, three-time All-American Eric Jenkins and Will Geoghegan finished 1-2-4 in the 3,000-meter final. The women won their first national championship in 30 years behind Jenna Prandini, who ran the 100-meter dash in 10.96 seconds and finished second in the long jump. But Prandini, an eight-time All-American, elected to forgo her senior season to sign with Puma.
The men’s indoor track and field team also defended its national championship last year.
Led by Cheserek and Jenkins, Oregon became the first school to win four distance events at the indoor meet. While the men won by 24 points, the women’s indoor team finished second to Arkansas by 16.5 points. Although Cheserek and Jenkins became the first pair of teammates from any program to finish 1-2 in 25 years, the men’s cross country team placed sixth. The women also finished sixth, just over three minutes behind first-place Michigan State.
Oregon softball has also enjoyed a streak of success in recent seasons.
Two-time Pac-12 pitcher of the year Cheridan Hawkins and Pac-12 freshman of the year Jenna Lilley led the Ducks to the Women’s College World Series last year but the team was eliminated after consecutive losses.
The Oregon volleyball team has made the NCAA tournament in eight of head coach Jim Moore’s 10 years at the helm. Since he took over in 2005, the Ducks have gone 209-108.
The Oregon acrobatics and tumbling team’s streak of four consecutive national championships ended last year with a second-place finish to Baylor.
Oregon’s basketball programs have yet to find the same success but are improving under their respective head coaches. Two-time Pac-12 coach of the year Dana Altman has led the men to five consecutive postseason appearances and 20-win seasons. They’ve qualified for three straight NCAA tournaments and won at least one game in each. The women went 13-17 during Kelly Graves’ first season at the helm, but held their opponents under 70 points 14 times after allowing an NCAA-worst 89.1 points per game the year prior.
Oregon baseball has emerged as a national title contender in its six seasons since the program’s reinstatement in 2009, but has yet to find postseason success. Head coach George Horton has led the Ducks to four postseason appearances, including each of the last three seasons. The team, however, has not advanced past the Super Regional round.
Women’s soccer is another Oregon program on the rise. In her second season, head coach Kat Mertz transformed the team into one of the top defensive units in the Pac-12. In 2014, the Ducks finished with a 1.04 goals against average, their third-lowest mark in school history.
National Rankings (Poll)
Football: 13 (AP)
Volleyball: 19 (AVCA Coaches)
Women’s Soccer: Unranked (NSCAA Coaches)
Men’s Cross Country: 7 (USTFCCCA)
Women’s Cross Country: 7 (USTFCCCA)
Women’s Golf: 23 (Golfweek)
Men’s Golf: 12 (GCAA)
Women’s Tennis: 65 (ITA)
Men’s Tennis: 49 (ITA)
Men’s Basketball: 27 (RPI)
Women’s Basketball: 171 (RPI)
Men’s Indoor Track & Field: 7 (USTFCCCA)
Women’s Indoor Track & Field: 7 (USTFCCCA)
Acrobatics & Tumbling: 2 (finished 2nd of 10 teams in 2015)
Women’s Lacrosse: 45 (RPI)
Men’s Outdoor Track & Field: 2 (USTFCCCA)
Women’s Outdoor Track & Field: 1 (USTFCCCA)
Baseball: 66 (RPI)
Softball: 5 (RPI)
Beach Volleyball: Unranked (2-6 in program’s second season)
Follow Kenny Jacoby on Twitter: @kennyjacoby
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