PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Oregon's 4x1,500 meter relay team ran away from the competition to claim the first "Wagon Wheel" in women's program history Friday at the Penn Relays.
The fifth-ranked Ducks won in 17:29.00, which was nearly :12 better than runner-up Georgetown's 17:40.99.
"We're excited about being here," said Oregon Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna. "It's really a big deal for the University of Oregon to come to Franklin Field. It's exciting for me, since I grew up in this area.
"It's great to bring these athletes here. They've been thinking about it for the entire year, and they did a fantastic job, and we're proud of them."
Sophomore Lanie Thompson, from nearby High Bridge, N.J., opened for the Ducks in 4:32.5, followed by senior Alex Kosinski, whose 4:17.1 leg put the Ducks in front for good.
"Lanie (Thompson) got me in great position, giving me the baton in second, so I could sit for a lap," said Kosinski, whose time was within :02 of her open 1,500 personal best. "I wanted to sit until I felt I could pick up the pace a little. Once I felt comfortable going, I just wanted to give Anne (Kesselring) and Becca (Friday) as big of a lead as I could."
Junior Anne Kesselring, the reigning NCAA 800 meter champion, took the third leg in 4:16.3 and junior Becca Friday closed in 4:23.1 as the Ducks finally hoisted the coveted "Wagon Wheel" trophy that is awarded to Penn Relays winners.
"I saw that we had a pretty big lead, but I didn't want to take any chances," said Friday. "I started off strong, and the goal for me today was to finish the last 200 (meters) strong."
The women also advanced their 4x200 meter relay team on to Saturday's final. Oregon was second in its heat in 1:34.27, with Chizoba Okodogbe leading off, followed by Phyllis Francis, Lauryn Newson and English Gardner.
The Ducks' were runner-up to Louisiana State in their heat. Only LSU (1:33.11) and Texas A&M (1:32.27) had faster 4x200 meter relay teams on Friday. Those three teams will be joined in Saturday's final by Illinois, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Hampton and Kentucky.
In the men's races, the Ducks placed fourth in the men's distance medley relay in 9:43.11. Elijah Greer led off in 2:59.2, followed by Russell Hornsby in 47.8, Boru Guyota in 1:49.4 and Trevor Dunbar in 4:06.7.
The top six places were separated by less than a second. Princeton won in 9:42.45, followed by Indiana in 9:42.68, Binghamton in 9:43.08, Oregon, Columbia in 9:43.21 and Villanova in 9:43.28.
The Ducks also advanced their men's 4x400 meter relay team on to Saturday's final. Oregon's team of Bryan Harper, Arthur Delaney, Travis Thompson and Mike Berry ran 3:09.33, which was second in their heat to Texas A&M (3:07.77) and the fourth fastest time overall.
The Ducks and Aggies will be joined in the final by LSU, Penn State, Texas Tech, Mississippi State, Pittsburgh and North Carolina.
Oregon has six relay teams in finals on Saturday, the women's 4x200, 4x800 and 4x400 and the men's 4xMile, 4x800 and 4x400.