Preview: Oregon track and field team heads to NCAA Indoor Championships
Oregon’s indoor track and field season will come to a climatic end on Friday and Saturday as the team heads to College Station, Texas, for the NCAA Indoor Championships in hopes of repeating last year’s indoor title sweep.
Throughout the season, the team-wide goal has been to send as many athletes as possible to the national championships and with Oregon sending the largest amount of athletes out of any team in the field, it’s safe to say that goal has been accomplished.
Looking for its seventh title in eight years, the top-ranked women’s team will send 10 athletes in 13 events, including both the 4×400 and the distance medley relays. The men are seeking their fourth consecutive indoor title and will send eight athletes in 11 events.
The meet will be broadcast on ESPN3, beginning at 12 p.m. on both days.
All eyes will be on 15-time national champion Edward Cheserek as he attempts to make history in his final indoor championship as a Duck. After breaking the 2-year-old collegiate record last Sunday, he is qualified to compete in the mile as well as the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, completing the only second triple in NCAA history. He will have three attempts to win his sixteenth title, which will be the most in history, and become the most decorated collegiate athlete.
Sophomore Matthew Maton will be joining him in both the mile and the 3,000-meter. The two will also represent Oregon in the DMR, alongside Cameron Stone and Mick Stanovsek. After Tim Gorman barely squeaked into the final qualifying slot following three scratches, the Ducks will have one more scoring opportunity in the mile.
Another huge scoring opportunity for the Ducks will be in the women’s 60 and 200 meter sprint events. The trio of Hannah Cunliffe, Deajah Stevens and Ariana Washington are set to race in both events. While Cunliffe holds the top time in the 60, Stevens leads the 200, though is swiftly followed by Cunliffe.
Although the women sprinters have been Oregon’s greatest strength this season, the Ducks are also well-represented in the 3,000. Alli Cash and Samatha Nadel will be led by NCAA leader Katie Rainsberger, who has had an impressive debut year, finishing fourth overall at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in the fall before becoming the MPSF Champion in the mile.
The final event in which Oregon has the opportunity to score points for multiple athletes is the women’s 60-meter hurdles. Sasha Wallace, who holds the top time in the event, will compete for her first indoor title alongside redshirt sophomore Alaysha Johnson.
Senior Marcus Chambers will look for his own first individual title after being added to the 200-meter entries list as a late addition.
Meanwhile, Raevyn Rogers is running for her fourth 800-meter title, after winning the event in both the indoor and outdoor championships last year. She will also run both relays, including the 800-meter leg of the DMR, which Oregon currently holds the collegiate record in.
Three Oregon newcomers on the men’s team will look to make their mark on Oregon history. Western Kentucky transfer Kyree King will finish off his final indoor season in the 60-meter, while another transfer student, Damarcus Simpson, participates in the long jump after breaking the school record earlier this year. Freshman Braxton Canady will race in the 60-meter hurdles.
Last weekend, two Ducks punched their tickets to nationals after impressive personal-best performances. Senior Maggie Schmaedick rounds out the women’s entries in the 5,000-meter, while Mitch Modin concludes the men’s in the heptathlon.
Follow Hannah Bonnie on Twitter @hbonnie03
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