It’s officially the postseason for Oregon’s track and field team. Both the men and women will head to the University of Arizona to compete in the two-day Pac-12 Track & Field Championships, starting on May 11.
The men will be seeking a 13th consecutive conference title, and are the favorites to do so. Both the women and men are the highest nationally ranked teams in the competition, at No. 5 and No. 7, respectively. However, USC’s men’s team at No. 9 with a solid set of sprinters and middle distance runners, will be a challenge for the Oregon men.
At last year’s Pac-12 championships, the women finished a close second behind USC. The Ducks and the Trojans will likely have the deepest teams in the field. The championship is also the final chance for Ducks to get into the top-16 for qualifying spots at NCAA regionals.
Thrower Maddie Rabing said now the postseason if officially here, there is a shift in competition as the meets have much larger team consequences.
“Towards this postseason, coach (Robert) Johnson emphasizes what you need to do to get your green uniform ahead of other uniforms, even if it’s not your best time,” Rabing said. “It’s less about your personal pr at that point and more about how you can help the team.”
Cravon Gillespie has established himself as the top sprinter in the conference, and he has the fastest seed times in the 100 and 200 meters. Freshman sensation Eric Edwards Jr. earned the top entry time in the 110-meter hurdles. Reed Brown, Oregon’s fastest 1,500 meter runner, is expected to be in contention for the event title. Brown will be joined by James West, who’s been looking to get more consistent in big meets this season.
On the women’s side, Jessica Hull has the fastest entry times for the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters. This could be her last race at 5,000 meters, as she’ll focus her final collegiate races on 1,500. Carmela Cardama Baez is entered in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Briyahna DesRosiers will race the 200 meters and the 400 meters, where she will be joined by teammate Hannah Waller.
Vollmer became Oregon’s fourth freshman in conference history to win the decathlon, and the first since 2004. Dalen Hargett finished fifth, which gives the men 14-points going into the two days of competition. Keira McCarrell eight place finish in the heptathlon gives the women one point to start. Colorado scored 13 points in the heptathlon, but don’t have enough depth to compete for a title.
“It definitely helps the cause when we can go in already with some points on the board from the multis,” Johnson said. “They’ve given us a great shot there.”
For the second time in event history, the entire meet will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Network starting at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 11.
Follow August Howell on Twitter @howell_august