Oregon is running out of ways to win titles.
On Saturday, the Ducks climbed on the back of senior newcomer Kyree King, who captured titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes to lead Oregon to its 11th straight conference crown. King became the first Duck to sweep the sprint events since Roscoe Cook in 1959 and his wind-aided 100-meter time of 10.09 seconds is the fastest ever by a Duck.
Not bad for his first time ever competing at Hayward Field.
“Unbelievable,” Oregon head coach Robert Johnson said of King. “He had been doing really well leading into this. To put it all together and run those races there. … It’s kind of creating a little inner-squad rivalry there between him and [Marcus Chambers].”
The Ducks finished the day with 175 points, a convincing 59.5 points ahead of runner-up USC, who were expected to at least give the Ducks a fight for the title.
Perennially a dominant distance school, Oregon held true to tradition and scored 44 points in five distance events. But it was King who finished as the Ducks’ high-point scorer. It’s also King who gives Oregon fans a reason to pay attention to events shorter than 400 meters.
“We’ve got a lot of tradition here in the other events that we love and we value,” Johnson said. “To be able to be well-rounded and balanced, and have those other kids step up in those other events is awesome.”
In both sprint events, King was followed closely by an Oregon teammate. Chambers (20.43) took second in the 200, while Damarcus Simpson (10.27) finished as runner-up in the 100.
“I mean, the girls speak for themselves,” King said of Oregon’s sprinting dominance on the women’s side. “But I wanna come out here and try to propel the men’s sprint team to be up there as well. I’m glad I was able to do that too.”
Oregon began racking up points early in the day, before track events even began. The Ducks got a huge shot in the arm from senior thrower Ryan Hunter-Sims, who won the discus title in dramatic fashion. Sitting in second place after four throws, Hunter-Simms unleashed a 192 foot, 7 inch, heave on his final attempt to win the event. In addition to Hunter-Sims’ victory, Cullen Prena and Drake Brennan placed fourth and sixth in the event.
Exceeding expectations became a common theme for Oregon’s athletes throughout Sunday afternoon. Braxton Canady finished second in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.93 seconds, and Mick Stanovsek stole a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter run.
“All of you always talk about the people who win,” Johnson said. “But those unsung heroes — Ryan Hunter-Simms’s there with the comeback victory — those fifth, sixth, seventh points, those definitely make a difference in these championship runs. We’re going to definitely need those over these next few months.”
By the time the meet was down to just two remaining events, the Ducks held a comfortable enough lead that Johnson told Chambers that he would hold him out of the dreaded 4×400-meter relay if he ran the open 200.
Oregon will get a brief break before the Ducks head to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA West Regionals on May 25.
Follow Jarrid Denney on Twitter @jarrid_denney