Men’s Track and Field lose NCAA title to Florida, Allen and Cheserek take sole titles
Florida tore the men’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field title from the hands of the Ducks Friday, by stealing a page from the UO playbook.
“They did what we usually do here at this meet and had a phenomenal last day,” head coach Robert Johnson said.
The Gators won the men’s championship with 62 points followed by Arkansas, Texas A&M and finally Oregon that took just missed the top three with 48 points.
“Not quite what we were looking for,” Johnson said, “but a valiente effort by our kids.”
Though the Ducks failed to maintain their title, a few athletes did their part for the team.
Edwards Cheserek earned his 15th NCAA championship title when he powered through the 5,000 meters to win in 13 minutes, 25.59 seconds, less than a second ahead of the runner up.
Though the margin between Cheserek and the rest of the field wasn’t much, his decision to set the pace paid off.
“It was fast in the beginning and then it slowed down a bit,” Cheserek said. “I was just waiting for someone to come take the lead.”
Eventually, it was Cheserek who took the competitive edge and slipped into the lead.
“I was waiting for the last 200 and just ran the last 200 as fast as I can,” Cheserek said.
Now heading into his senior year, Cheserek is on track to break the record for most NCAA titles.
“When you include the body of work he did indoors,” Johnson said in reference to Cheserek’s three NCAA titles at the 2016 NCAA championships, “it’s definitely special.”
Though it wasn’t his 14th title, Devon Allen added another first to the Ducks’ total, winning the 110 hurdles in 13.50. The two time All-American scored Oregon’s only other first place finish of the day.
The final notable performance of the day came when Sam Prakel took fifth in the 1,500 meters, 3:40.84. Teammate Blake Haney also competed in the event, but finished 11th in the 12 strong field.
Even with their title snatched away, Johnson remained proud of his team.
“We fought, we did what we were supposed to do and competed our best and we came up short,” Johnson said. “We didn’t give it away. Florida came in and they took it.”
Tomorrow, the Ducks will return for the final day of competition for the women’s track event finals. Though they are virtually out of the running for the title, Oregon has a shot at putting some of its athletes in the record books.
Sasha Wallace will compete in the 100 hurdles while Raevyn Rogers will fight to maintain her 800 meter title. In the sprints, Ariana Washington will race in the both the 100 and 200 meters, and Deajah Stevens will accompany Washington for the 200.
Follow Madison Layton on Twitter @MadisonLayton01
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