Cheserek and Rainsberger make impressive debuts at Washington Invitational
The Oregon Ducks solidified their status as a school to watch for this season as they sprung senior Edward Cheserek and freshman Katie Rainsberger onto the scene in their season debut cross country races at the Washington Invitational in Seattle, Washington Saturday morning.
Cheserek kicked off his season in style as he was the first to break the tape in 23 minutes, 6.30 seconds on the eight-kilometer route around the Jefferson Park Golf Course – 19 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.
Though Cheserek had been running with a pack for the most part, he threw in a surge at the last kilometer that no one else could match. This is his 14th win in his last 16 cross-country races.
To back up Cheserek’s victory, four Oregon runners placed in the top six – Sam Prakel finished third in 23:27.30, Matthew Maton came home in fourth with a time of 23:28.10 and Tanner Anderson crossed the line in sixth place with a time of 23:31.10. Blake Haney, the final member to count towards team points, clocked 23:46.30 to finish 12th.
This strong finish guided the Ducks, who rank third, to an easy victory of 26 points with plenty of room to spare. Colorado State, ranked 29th, was second with 39 points. Washington, ranked 21st, was third with 64 points.
“It was a good team effort,” Oregon associate head coach Andy Powell said in a release. “The guys behind Cheserek, those sophomores (Anderson and Maton) and Sam Prakel did really well. For this time of year, I think we’re in a good spot. There are a few things we need to work on, but we’re healthy and everyone’s racing.”
Oregon has little to worry about should they need a backup plan. Bolstering the team are Bryan Fernandez, who was 13th in 23:48.30, and Tim Gorman finished 17th in 24:00.50.
Rainsberger, who was donning an Oregon singlet for the first time, was the runner-up in the women’s category, completing the six-kilometer course in 19:36.80. The 2015 Gatorade National Runner of the year was six seconds behind champion Charlotte Prouse of Washington.
Forty seconds after Rainsberger crossed the line, Jessica Hull led the charge of four Ducks to cross the line within 10 seconds of one another. Hull was 12th in 20:22.40, Ashley Maton was 13th in 20:26.10, Emma Abhramson was 14th in 20:27.80, and Maggie Schmaedick was 16th in 20:32.20.
“We’re in high-volume training cycle right now and it was a good opportunity to be tough and compete on tired legs,” assistant coach Maurica Powell said. “It’s a challenge to execute a race plan under those circumstances and I think we did a pretty good job of running together. Katie (Rainsberger) had a phenomenal debut for us. She went out conservatively and finished strong. I was really impressed with Jess Hull and Ashley Maton, who have shown some big improvement over last year.”
The Ducks fall training camp looks to be paying off as they have been working on developing a pack-running mentality.
Besides wearing white singlets with the word “Oregon” in pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Ducks also dedicated their race to Bryan Fernandez and his father, Juan Fernandez, who passed away last week. Bryan had travelled directly from the memorial service to race in Seattle.
“It was an emotional run for the guys rallying behind Bryan,” Powell said. “For him to come here and run like that – it really inspired a lot of guys around him.”
The Ducks will next race at the Pre-National Invitational at Terre Haute, Indiana, on Oct. 15.
Follow Romaine Soh on Twitter @mainetainpls
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