Oregon track and field prepares for 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships
With just a couple days before this year’s NCAA Track and Field Championships — the last to be hosted in Hayward before the renovation — the Ducks are preparing for the sixth-consecutive tournament hosted by the Ducks at Hayward field.
Both Oregon’s men’s and women’s teams are ranked fifth headed into the national meet, which starts Wednesday, June 6, with the men’s track semifinals and several field event finals. Regardless of the low seed, head coach Robert Johnson said his program isn’t rattled by the rankings.
“We saw how [it] worked out last year, being the overwhelming favorite,” Johnson said. “We’ve also saw where we were supposed to be sixth and turned out to be the overwhelming favorite.”
At last year’s NCAA tournament, Oregon’s women took first by a hair of second-place Georgia, outscoring the Dawgs by just 1.8 points. The men’s side finished ninth.
While the men’s program took first at the Pac-12 tournament for the 12th-consecutive year, the women were unable to maintain their own nine-year winning streak, finishing second behind USC. Senior sprinter Ariana Washington said the loss at the Pac-12 tournament gave the women’s team a needed drive for the NCAA tournament.
“We’re up for a dog fight and I think that after Pac-12s it takes one good butt-whooping to learn you’re lesson,” she said. “I love a challenge. I think we’re going to shock a lot of people. I think a lot of us are really ready to run fast and I think we have a lot of fight in us and it took a lot of fight to even make it back home.”
Senior distance runner Alli Cash said the team is in good position to score well if they can capitalize on their training.
“I think that we have a lot of pieces,” she said. “We got a lot of people in and I think a lot of it is building momentum. I guess it’s just what we can do with those pieces.”
She wasn’t concerned with the low-ranking, saying that rankings don’t ultimately determine the outcome.
Johnson agreed, saying: “It is what it is; it’s one of those things where you have to get there and continue and run the meet. Once the meet starts, that’s when things will start to shake out.”
Washington, who’s running in her final meet at Hayward, said she’s excited to compete one last time in front of the home crowd as a Duck, saying, “We know this track like the back of your hand its not anything you really have to worry about. We use this track every single day.
“I think we’re really going to shock a lot of people as a team,” she said. “It matters when everyone gets to the line and the winner will determine itself on Saturday.”
Follow Sierra Webster on Twitter @WebsterSierraE
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.