Cross CountrySports

Oregon cross country’s veterans and underclassmen ready for the Washington Invitational

It’s not surprising that when the Bill Dellinger Invitational came to a close back in mid-September, one name stood above the rest. The Ducks’ Edward Cheserek won for the ninth time in the last 10 races to lead the Oregon cross country teams to a sweep of its season opening race.

And while this group of Ducks runners is led by the junior standout, the depth of the program goes far beyond. Talented athletes litter the roster on both the men and women’s sides. Sam Prakel, Travis Neuman, Alli Cash and Waverly Neer are just some of the people who should make impacts.

Having so many experienced runners is important, especially this week as the focus shifts to the new additions to the program – many of whom will be participating in their first collegiate race of the season at the Washington Invitational.

“Cross country is one of those things where we put in a lot of miles here in Eugene,” Oregon head coach Robert Johnson said. “We will get the chance to see them try to put those things to play in a team competition.”

Freshmen Matthew Maton and Tanner Anderson, as well as Georgetown transfer Ryan Gil, are on the entry list. For the women, Australia’s Jessica Hull will be getting her first action as a Duck.

“They have looked solid — no issues or problems with them,” Johnson said. “They’ve come in and learned what we are trying to teach.”

At this point in the year, the races are more an extension of the three weeks of training the programs did in Sunriver before the start of school. The teams are still working to come together and get into competition fitness before the stakes become higher later in the year — with circled events like the Pac-12 Championships (Oct. 30), NCAA West Regionals (Nov. 13) and NCAA Championships (Nov. 21) commanding most of the attention.

“We have been training hard, and we are in the middle of a long training block that lasts until Pac-12s — so it will be exciting to see where we are at,” sophomore Frida Berge said.

This weekend’s race serves as a chance to preview running a course they will be returning to later for the Regionals, as both events are held at Jefferson Park in Seattle. It also provides a chance for Oregon to face several talented squads of runners. Stanford is the headliner, with its men’s team ranked No. 2 and the women No. 4. Also boosting the field are ranked teams BYU, UCLA and Washington.

“Stanford will be there, so we will be looking to compete with them,” Neuman said. “They are obviously somebody we will be seeing at the National meet.”

The Washington Invitational is scheduled to begin Friday at 3:15.

Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur

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Christopher Keizur

Christopher Keizur

Christopher is a senior sports reporter for the Emerald. His work has been published by the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, KVAL and Lane Today. He is a Tabletop games aficionado and amateur ghost hunter.