Oregon cross country runs strong at the Pre-Nationals, looks ahead to Pac-12 Championships
Oregon cross country had a strong performance at the Pre-Nationals Invitational in Louisville, Kentucky, with the men finishing second and the women placing third Saturday morning.
“Both teams ran really well today and finished about where we expected,” associate head coach Andy Powell said in a statement. “We wanted to come in and compete with some of the best in the country.”
Overall it was a solid race for both squads as the Ducks stayed on pace for a positive postseason performance. The location of the Invitational, E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, is where the 2015 NCAA Championships will be held — so it was a good opportunity to demo the course.
The Duck men were powered by three runners placing in the top-30, helping them finish behind fellow conference member No. 2 Colorado, who won the meet with 89 points. No. 3 Oregon (151), No. 13 Arkansas (164), No. 13 Texas-El Paso (197) and No. 7 Georgetown (214) all clocked in behind the Buffaloes.
Oregon’s Edward Cheserek was the runner-up in 23:22.8, which snapped his run of three straight victories. It was also the fourth time in 15 career races that Cheserek didn’t win the meet. Jake Leingang placed 24th (23:41.4) and Travis Neuman took 29th (29:43.5).
On the women’s side it was a strong showing from several Pac-12 schools. While No. 5 Michigan was the overall winner with 131 points, No. 2 Colorado took second (151), No. 4 Oregon third (175), No. 9 Stanford fourth (244) and an unranked Utah fifth (350).
A pair of seniors were the standout for the Ducks with Waverly Neer and Molly Grabill leading the way in the women’s race. Neer claimed 8th (20:11.5) and Grabill crossed 29th (20:33.3).
The performances by several Pac-12 schools hint at an entertaining and competitive Pac-12 Championship meet on the horizon, with three women’s teams in the top five and the Ducks an Colorado dueling again on the men’s side.
“We will head home, add a few pieces to both teams, and look to come out strong in two weeks at Pac-12s,” Powell said.
The Pac-12 Championships will be held on October 30, in Colfax, Washington.
Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur
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