EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon used rousing victories in the men’s 1,500 meters and 800 meters, and the women’s 400 meters, 800 meters and pole vault and a school-record triple jump to sweep the Pacific-10 Conference track and field titles for the first time in the program’s storied history Sunday before a crowd of 7,386 at Historic Hayward Field.
"For both teams to win on the same day at the same time is a fantastic accomplishment," said Oregon Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna. "They deserve it."
The men won their third straight Pac-10 title by scoring a school-record 158 points as Oregon claimed a conference meet victory before the home crowd for the first time since 1967. The Ducks also won three straight league titles for the first time in program history, becoming the first school to accomplish that feat since UCLA won five straight from 1992-96.
USC was second with 117 points, followed by Stanford with 93, Washington State with 91, UCLA with 90 and Arizona State with 87.
Oregon’s women won their first Pac-10 title since 1992 and third overall with a school-record 165.5 points. Stanford was second at 138, followed by Arizona State (112), USC (108) and UCLA (79.5).
The Ducks joined UCLA as the only school in school in league history to sweep both the men’s and women’s championships. The Bruins last accomplished that feat in 2004.
Sunday, the men set the tone early with a 1-2-3 sweep in the 1,500 meters. Matthew Centrowitz ran 3:51.00 to became Oregon’s first champion in the event since Dub Myers in 1986. The freshman from Arnold, Md., was followed by Galen Rupp in 3:51.18 and Andrew Wheating in 3:51.27.
"Sweeping the 1,500 was great, it helped so much for our team," Centrowitz said. "When we were preparing, we all met with our coaches individually so we weren’t worried about what the other person was going to do. I went out there only thinking about what I needed to do and I did it."
An hour later, it was Wheating’s turn to shine in the 800 meters. The junior from Norwich, Vt., needed a late kick to edge Irek Sekretarski of USC by .02. Wheating finished in 1:49.83 to become the first Duck to win back-to-back 800 meter titles since Olympic gold medalist Joaquim Cruz in 1983 and 1984.
"It was an amazing race," said Wheating. "I am exhausted. I am here for the team and trying to do my best. I was really nervous and I knew it was going to be really tough. I wanted to lead the last 200 meters. I know how it feels to lose by that much. It doesn’t make anyone a worse runner."
From there, Oregon picked up points in the 110 hurdles, the 400 meters, the 400 hurdles, high jump, 5,000 meters and both relays to roll to its record-setting point total.
Meanwhile, the women, who led Stanford by just nine points after the first day, led off the day with a blazing women’s 4x100 meter relay and put the pedal down from there. The Ducks were third in that race in 44.80 and also closed the day with a third-place showing in the 4x400 meter relay, with Brianne Theisen, Amber Purvis, Jamesha Youngblood and Keshia Baker running a season-best 3:37.10, which was the seventh-fastest time in school history.
In between, Baker, Youngblood, Zoe Buckman and Melissa Gergel were winning Pac-10 championships.
Baker, a junior from Sacramento, Calif., got Oregon’s first win of the day with a scorching personal-best in the 400 meters of 51.74 to defeat Nicole Leach of UCLA, who ran 52.93. Baker became just the second Duck to win back-to-back women’s 400 titles, joining Camara Jones from 1992-93. Baker’s time was also the second-fastest in school history, trailing only Jones’ 1995 mark of 51.44.
"Coach told me to believe in my fitness, and the crowd really pushed me on that last 100 meters," said Baker. "Having the team title is great. It’s all about the team title and I’m happy for our seniors that we could send them out with a win. A lot of people stepped up in a lot of events and that’s what inspired us."
Baker came back to take fifth in the 200 meters in 23.70, a time that moved her to fourth all-time at Oregon.
Buckman became just the second Oregon woman to win the 800 meters, finishing in 2:05.39, joining Rebekah Noble who won in 2006. Sophomore Alexandra Kosinski took fifth in a personal-best time of 2:07.45.
"It was a great and tough race," said Buckman. "Krishna (Curry) from UCLA really challenged me on the last 200 meters. This time I felt confident enough to lead and when she came after me I had the strength to hold on to my speed."
The women’s pole vault produced another PR with Gergel going over 14 feet for the first time in her career. The four-time All-American won her first Pac-10 title with a clearance of 14-2, a PR by two-and-a-quarter inches. That clearance jumped the sophomore from Glenwood, Ill., from fourth to second on Oregon’s career list.
"I was surprised, but knew I was ready to jump high," Gergel said. "But all I was really thinking about was getting 10 points. That was my biggest goal."
Sophomore Jordan Roskelley matched her personal best in the pole vault with a clearance at 13-0.25 to tie for fifth.
The Ducks’ last winner on the day might have been its best. Youngblood, who won the long jump on Saturday, came back to take the triple jump in a school-record leap of 43-2.25. That moved her past Sara Jessie’s 1995 mark of 42-6. The sophomore from San Pablo, Calif., became just the second Duck to win the triple jump, joining Phillis McKinney from 1989.
"The school record (in the triple jump) was my goal for the championships," said Youngblood, who also set the Oregon standard in the long jump on Saturday (21-1.25) said. "I knew I needed to have a good, solid jump in the beginning to do it."
The women of Oregon also counted a pair of second-place finishes from Nicole Blood and Lucy Cridland. Blood took second in the 5,000 meters in 16:16.56, while Cridland was the surprise of the discus.
The senior from Portland, Ore., recorded nearly a five-foot PR with a throw of 170-4 on her fifth attempt. That pushed her into Oregon’s top-10 at No. 8.
The Ducks also counted a 3-4 finish from Alexandra Kosinski and Blood in the 1,500 meters. Kosinski ran 4:27.29 with Blood at 4:27.87.
In the 400 hurdles, freshman Lyndsay Pearson placed sixth in a time of 1:00.45, while senior Leah Worthen took eighth in a season-best 1:00.98, marking the sixth time in her career that she has scored at the Pac-10 championships.
Senior Megan Maloney took sixth in the hammer with a season-best throw of 182-3, while freshman Amber Purvis picked up a point in the 100 meters with an eighth-place run in 11.84.
The men’s story was much the same after the 1,500 and 800 meters. Shadrack Biwott ran to his second, second-place showing of the 2009 championships by finishing the 5,000 meters in 13:52.79. The senior from Eldoret, Kenya, was also second in the 10,000 meters on Saturday. Sophomore Danny Mercado was eighth in the 5,000 in 14:16.72.
Ashton Eaton and Chad Barlow led Oregon in the 400 meters and the relays. Eaton, who won the decathlon last weekend and placed second in the long jump on Saturday, ran a career-best 46.34 in the 400 on Saturday to finish third. That was the seventh-fastest time in school history. Barlow took sixth in that race in a season-best 46.87.
The two juniors also led Oregon’s third-place run in the 4x400 meter relay and its seventh-place showing in the 4x100 meter relay (41.23). In the 4x400, the Ducks’ team of Eaton, Marshall Ackley, Travis Thompson and Barlow ran 3:08.95, which was the Ducks’ first NCAA Regional qualifying time in the event this season.
Eaton, from Bend, Ore., was named the high-point scorer for the men’s meet with 26 combined points coming in the decathlon, long jump, 400 and the two relays.
Freshman Eric Hersey ran a season-best 14.23 to take fifth in the 110 hurdles, while Vernell Warren was fifth in the high jump, matching a season-best bar at 6-10.75. Ackley rounded out the men’s scoring with an eighth-place finish in the 400 hurdles in 51.94, a lifetime best and an NCAA Regional mark.
"I am not tired at all," said Eaton. "I feel really good. The most fun was the 4x400 race. If there’s one event I would have to choose to compete in, that would be it. My teammates’ performances made me so happy. That’s what gets me so excited and this is why we are the Pac-10 Champions."
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