Oregon women come second, men fourth in Pac-12 Championships
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Early on in the 2017 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships, Oregon’s Katie Rainsberger felt something in her hair.
It was the snapping of her hair tie, undoing her hair slowly throughout the race.
“I tried to not let it affect me,” she said. “I was like, ‘well I guess I just gotta run with it.’”
Rainsberger finished second (18 minutes, 58.5 seconds) behind Colorado’s Dani Jones (18:57.3). The women’s team finished second behind Colorado as well, improving from a fourth-place finish at last year’s conference championship.
The men, who also came fourth at last season’s meet, managed the same feat this year, coming fourth behind Stanford, Colorado and UCLA.
“I think that we as a team are really good going into races with a process-oriented approach rather than an outcome-oriented approach,” Rainsberger said. “And if you look at where we are this year compared to where we were last year, I think we’re two steps ahead, two places ahead, and you don’t want to lose but that was never the goal.”
In similar fashion to the many races the two compete in, Jones and Rainsberger were neck-and-neck for the vast majority of the race, but Jones eventually kicked ahead.
Oregon’s Lilli Burdon was the next best Duck in the women’s race, finishing sixth in 19:07.8.
“I just wanted to come out and have a really good race today,” Burdon said. “We’ve been coming off with some hard training behind us. Focus was just to get out and execute a solid race as a team and put together the best race that each of us could. … It’s another step in the right direction.”
Colorado’s women have now won three straight Pac-12 Championships, while Stanford’s men snapped Colorado’s streak of consecutive conference titles since the Buffaloes joined the conference in 2011.
The Ducks ran with only six on the women’s side, as Alli Cash did not race. In the weeks ahead, though, that will change.
“I think we’ll have some more depth in the next races which will be nice,” Burton said. “But we all trust each other and trust each other’s abilities.”
The men ran without Matthew Maton, but their gap behind the rest of the field was too large to overcome.
“He was close,” associate head coach Andy Powell said. “I think if we would have brought him back, he would have helped us for sure. I don’t think he would have made the difference that we would have needed. If we would have lost by a point or two I would have been kicking myself for not running him.”
Cooper Teare was the highest finisher for the Oregon men, coming in sixth in 23:59.4. Tanner Anderson was the Ducks’ next best runner, finishing in 22nd.
“They were trying, and that’s what I like about this group of guys — they commit to the race plan and they do the best they can to execute it,” Powell said. “Usually it works out, but just this time they ran out of gas there at the end there.”
Up next for the Ducks will be the West Regionals in Seattle on Nov. 10 ahead of the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, on Nov. 18.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow
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