EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon's men's and women's cross country teams head to the inaugural Pac-12 Championships this Saturday in Litchfield Park, Ariz. Arizona State is the 2011 host for the event that will be held at Wigwam Golf Resort, which is located some 20 miles east of downtown Phoenix.
The men will race 8,000 meters at 9 a.m. PDT, followed by the women going 6,000 meters at 10 a.m.
The first race of the day looks to be a showdown between No. 4 Stanford, the two-time defending champions, and league newcomer Colorado, ranked sixth nationally. After that, the next sports are up for grabs among No. 20 UCLA, No. 22 Washington State, No. 23 Oregon and No. 25 Arizona.
Unlike recent league championships, the Duck men will field a relatively inexperienced squad. Senior Luke Puskedra anchors the Ducks. He was fourth at the Pac-10 meet last year in Seattle and has been a top-four finisher his entire career, taking second as a freshman in 2008 and fourth as a junior in 2009. Coming into the championships, Puskedra has a string of six consecutive top-10 finishes dating back to the beginning of last season.
Aside from Puskedra, sophomores Ben DeJarnette, Mitch Hunt, Brian Shrader and Parker Stinson all competed last season in Seattle. Oregon's entries also include a fair number of first-time conference competitors, including freshmen Jeramy Elkaim, Boru Guyota, Matt Jablonski, Ryan Pickering, Lukas Verzbicas and Cole Watson, as well as sophomore Tim Costin.
The 2011 women's championship was the closest in league history with just six points separating the top four teams. Now Colorado joins that list with a resurgent California program and there are six teams gunning for the inaugural Pac-12 title.
The women's race will have no less than six of the nation's top 16 teams: No. 2 Washington, No. 5 Arizona, No. 8 Stanford, No. 10 California, No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Colorado. The Cardinal claimed the title last season.
Oregon will be led by defending league champion Jordan Hasay. The junior from Arroyo Grande, Calif., became the second consecutive Duck to win the conference crown, joining Nicole Blood in 2009.
The women are virtually the opposite of the men, with only three runners projected to make their conference debuts - freshmen Molly Grabill and Megan Patrignelli and junior Sarah Penney. In fact, this will be the fourth league championships for seniors Bronwyn Crossman and Claire Michel, the third league meet for juniors Anne Kesselring and Taylor Wallace, and the second conference championship for junior Becca Friday and sophomore Lanie Thompson.
DUCKS AT THE PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS
Women: Oregon has won this event seven times, which is second only to Stanford's 15 titles. The Ducks' team titles came in 1986-88, 1990-1992 and 1995. Oregon has also produced the individual champion on eight occasions. Jordan Hasay was the individual medalist last season. She followed Nicole Blood in 2009, who became Oregon's first Pac-10 champ in 17 years. Liz Wilson won twice (1988, 1990), while Penny Graves (1986), Annette Hand (1987), Lisa Karnopp (1991) and Nicole Woodward (1992) each claimed one crown.
Men: Oregon has won this event a record 16 times. Stanford is second with 12 Pac-10 titles. The Ducks won three straight from 2006-08. Oregon's other titles came in 1969-70, 1972, 1976-79, 1982, 1988-90, 1992 and 1995. The Ducks have also produced three recent individual champions: Galen Rupp in 2006, Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott in 2007 and Rupp again in 2008. Other individual winners for Oregon include three-time winner Steve Prefontaine (1970-71, '73), two-time winner Jim Hill (1982-83), Brad Hudson (1988), Colin Dalton (1991), Karl Keska (1995) and Steve Fein (1999).
LIVE BLOG/RESULTS FOR THE PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS
Fans can follow the races with a live blog at www.pac-12.org. Live results will also be available at http://www.rtspt.com/events/pac12/xc2011/. Flotrack (flotrack.org) will also provide post-race highlights and interviews.
The Pac-12 Championships will be run on the Wigwam Golf Resort's Heritage Course. The race will consist of three outer loops and one inner loop for the men and two outer loops and one inner loop for the women. The loops are relatively flat with some undulations and rhythm breaking turns. There will be parts of the course run on the fairway and parts on the rough that is well maintained. The course is dry at this team of year, potentially providing for some fast running. The start of the race will be roughly a 550-meter straight shot to the finish coming off the final inner loop.
74th ANNUAL PAC-12 MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIPS
Time: 9:00 a.m. PDT
Length: 8,000 Meters
Results: www.pac-12.org or http://www.rtspt.com/events/pac12/xc2011/.
Teams (9): Arizona, No. 25 Arizona State, California, No. 6 Colorado, No. 23 Oregon, No. 4 Stanford (two-time defending champion), No. 20 UCLA, Washington and No. 22 Washington State.
Oregon Entries: Each team is allowed 10 runners. Of those, the top seven factor in the team scoring; the top five account for team score and the next two may displace runners from opposing teams. The Ducks will select their starting 10 from among a group of 18, including All-America senior Luke Puskedra. Oregon also has runners with Pac-10 experience in senior Chris Kwiatkowski, junior Bryce Burgess and sophomores Ben DeJarnette, Mitch Hunt, Brian Shrader and Parker Stinson. The men have a number of runners available who could make their Pac-12 debuts in freshmen, Colby Alexander, Jeramy Elkaim, Boru Guyota, Matt Jablonski, Chad Noelle, Ryan Pickering, Lukas Verzbicas, Cole Watson and Daniel Winn, senior Travis Stanford, sophomore Tim Costin.
26th ANNUAL PAC-10 WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIPS
Time: 10:00 a.m. PDT
Length: 6,000 Meters
Results: www.pac-12.org or http://www.rtspt.com/events/pac12/xc2011/.
Teams (12): No. 5 Arizona, Arizona State, No. 10 California, No. 16 Colorado, No. 11 Oregon, Oregon State, No. 8 Stanford (defending champion), UCLA, USC, Utah, No. 2 Washington and Washington State.
Oregon Entries: Each team is allowed 10 runners. Of those, the top seven factor in the team scoring; the top five account for team score and the next two may displace runners from opposing teams. The Ducks have entered defending individual medalist Jordan Hasay, plus Pac-10 veterans in seniors Bronwyn Crossman and Claire Michel, juniors Becca Friday, Anne Kesselring and Taylor Wallace and sophomore Lanie Thompson. Junior Sarah Penney and freshmen Molly Grabill and Megan Patrignelli are in line to make their Pac-12 debuts.
VIN LANANNA AT THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS
Seventh year Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna has an unmatched track record at the Pacific-10/12 cross country championships. His charges at Oregon, and previously Stanford, have produced 18 team titles and 11 individual winners. The 2010 championships added another women's medalist, Jordan Hasay to Lananna's legacy.
Lananna's Pac-10 Title Runs (Oregon/Stanford)
Men's Team Titles - 9 (Stanford 1996, '97, '98, '00, '01, '02; Oregon 2006, '07, '08)
Women's Team Titles - 9 (Stanford 1993, '94, '96, '97, '98, '99, '00, '01, '02)
Men's Individual Titles - 6 (Stanford 2000, '01, 03; Oregon 2006, '07, '08)
Women's Individual Titles - 5 (Stanford 1999, '01, '02; Oregon 2009, '10)
In the last half century, no other conference can match the league's combined 19 NCAA men's and women's team championships in cross country.
Combined NCAA Team Titles by Conference, 1958-present
19 Pacific-10 Conference
14 Big East Conference
13 Southeastern Conference
10 Big XII
9 Conference USA
8 Big Ten
Stanford hosts the NCAA West Regional meet on Nov. 12, followed by the NCAA Championships Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE TEAMS
The Ducks return eight talented letterwinners, including 2010 Pac-10 champion and NCAA third-place finisher Jordan Hasay, for the 2011 season. That's the good news for Oregon.
On the flip side, the 2010 season saw the closest conference race in league history, where the top four teams finished within six points of each other, and now 2011 welcomes distance power Colorado into the mix for the inaugural Pac-12 Championships.
It means that Oregon will need all of that talent and depth to once again challenge at the conference and national levels.
Hasay, a junior from Arroyo Grande, Calif., had a dynamite sophomore season both on and off the track. She was named the Pac-10's cross country runner of the year, and her third-place showing at the NCAA meet last fall was the best by a Duck in nearly 30 years.
She'll lead a team that will have to overcome the graduation of two-time All-American Alex Kosinski and NCAA veteran Zoe Buckman.
Stepping up behind Hasay will be sophomore Lanie Thompson, who was the team's most consistent runner behind Hasay and Kosinski in 2010, including a 16th-place finish at the Pac-10 meet.
Oregon also has NCAA veterans in seniors Bronwyn Crossman and Claire Michel, junior Anne Kesselring and sophomore Sarah Andrews, while juniors Becca Friday and Taylor Wallace both have Pac-10 cross country championships experience.
The women also to look to be able to add depth from a pair of talented distance newcomers in freshmen Molly Grabill (Poway, Calif.) and Allie Woodward (Green Bay, Wis.).
There are also middle distance runners Phyllis Francis (Laurelton, N.Y.), Megan Patrignelli (Monroe, N.Y.) and Laura Roesler (Fargo, N.D.), who all redshirted the 2010 season, on the roster, as well as true freshman Claudia Francis (Laurelton, N.Y.).
The Ducks have also added senior transfer Kimber Mattox to the roster. The Bend, Ore., native was a Division III cross country All-American as a junior in 2010 for Willamette University.
Senior Luke Puskedra figures to lead a talented group of youngsters into the 2011 cross country season.
Puskedra, from Ogden, Utah, had his finest season as a Duck in 2010 as he finished third at the NCAA Championships and fourth at the Pac-10 Championships. He should again be positioned for a high finish at the conference and national meets.
Beyond Puskedra, the Ducks will largely be a team of freshmen and sophomores who will look to fill a number of openings left by the graduation of All-Americans A.J. Acosta, Matthew Centrowitz and Danny Mercado.
There are some experienced runners on the team, such as senior Chris Kwiatkowski who finished 24th at the Pac-10 Championships in 2010, as well as junior Bryce Burgess, a two-time Pac-10 competitor and a 2010 NCAA West Regional qualifier.
But the bulk of the team will be youngsters. Sophomores Ben DeJarnette, from Mechanicsville, Va., and Parker Stinson, from Austin, Texas, both ran in all three championship races for the Ducks as freshmen in 2010.
Fellow sophomore Brian Shrader was also a Pac-10 and NCAA championships performer last fall. Sophomore Mac Fleet redshirted the 2010 cross country season but was a Pac-10 competitor in 2009. Sophomore Mitchell Hunt also was a Pac-10 qualifier in 2010.
Oregon will have a bounty of freshmen and redshirt freshmen competing for roster spots. Highly touted newcomer Lukas Verzbicas (Orland Park, Ill.) leads that list. Other true freshmen to watch include Chris Brewer (Vista, Calif.), Jeramy Elkaim (Livingston, N.J.), Russell Hornsby (Williamsburg, Va.), Matthew Jablonski (Cockeysville, Md.), Matt Melancon (Eugene, Ore.), Chad Noelle (Greene, N.Y.) and Ryan Pickering (West Palm Beach, Fla.).
The redshirt freshmen include Colby Alexander (Strongsville, Ohio), Boru Guyota (Portland, Ore.), Cole Watson (Rogue River, Ore.) and Daniel Winn (Portland, Ore.).
In recent seasons, the men have experienced success on a national level rarely seen in Track Town, USA. Oregon won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2007 and 2008, and followed that with a runner-up finish in 2009. Those results harken back to the era of the legendary Steve Prefontaine, when the Ducks won national titles in 1971, 1973 and 1974, were second in 1970 and third in 1972.
TRACK TOWN, USA, HERITAGE
The last three years have certainly lived up to the heritage established by the legends of Track Town, USA. In 18 NCAA championships and 12 Pac-10 championships, the Men and Women of Oregon have won 11 championships and another 12 silver medals.
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