The Oregon track and field team started its outdoor campaign on Friday and Saturday, earning eight wins at the San Diego State Aztec Invitational.
The meet was mainly composed of sprinters, throwers and jumpers. Both the men’s and women’s 4×100-meter relay teams finished first. For the women, Shae Anderson, Venessa D’Arpino, Lauren Rain and Alaysha Johnson ran 44.38 seconds, just edging out another Oregon team. Both Oregon squads finished ahead of UCLA and Oklahoma.
Johnson, however, was not finished for the day. Half an hour later, Johnson won the 100-meter hurdles in 13.48 seconds. She is the defending Pac-12 champion for that event. Ariana Washington, who also competed in the 4×100 relay, won her 100 meter heat in 11:25 seconds.
Chaquin Cook, the defending Pac-12 champion in the triple-jump, set a personal-best for the win. She jumped 20-7.25 (6.28 meters), which put her onto eight place on UO’s all-time list.
Keira McCarrell won the women’s invite javelin by setting a personal-best. The freshman from Salem, Oregon, threw 154-8 (47.16 meters).
The Oregon men’s 4×100-meter relay team consisted of Braxton Canady, Julius Shellmire, Spenser Schmidt and Cravon Gillespie, who together ran 39.94 seconds in the win.
Jackson VanVuren, a redshirt sophomore who needed elbow surgery a year ago, placed second in the javelin invite but first among collegians. VanVuren threw nearly 20 feet further than he ever had before, 225-4 (68.70 meters), in his season debut.
Both Oregon throwers set personal-bests. Freshman Jared Briere finished eighth overall with his 178-9 (54.55 meters). Sophomore Sebastian Barajas finished fourth at 55-1 (16.82 meters).
Despite disappointing team results during the indoor season, the women are No. 2 in the USTFCCCA preseason rankings. The men are ranked No. 1.
Head coach Robert Johnson knows that the team is more than capable of being contenders for the outdoor national title, even though the Oregon teams did not get many entries to the indoor championships.
“No matter who we have or who we loose, we have a good group of kids here. … I think we have the lineups and the personnel,” Johnson said before the meet. “It doesn’t change just because we didn’t get the outcome we wanted to.”
Next week, the Oregon distance runners will make their outdoor debut at the Stanford Invitational on March 30.
Follow August Howell on Twitter @howell_august