BOSTON, Mass. – Freshmen Edward Cheserek and Jake Leingang finished 1-2 to lead the 12th-ranked Men of Oregon to a striking victory Friday at the Boston College XC Invitational. The Duck women were nearly as impressive, overcoming a frightening fall by team leader Sarah Penney and finishing second only to top-ranked Providence on a sunny fall afternoon at Franklin Park.
“It was a good job by the women to overcome some adversity this early in the season and a great performance by the men to go out and bring home the victory,” said head coach Robert Johnson. “What an outstanding job by our young Ducks Edward, Jake and Maggie Schmaedick wearing the “O” for the first time."
The Duck men used a huge push over the final 1,000 meters to pull away from the field and win with 22 points. No. 9 Syracuse was second with 69 points, No. 25 Providence was third (81), No. 8 Wisconsin was fourth (88) and Northeastern was fifth (157).
The men placed six runners in the top nine, led by Cheserek’s win in 24:11. The freshmen from Kenya by way of Newark, N.J., made the most of his first turn in the green and yellow, crossing the tape inches ahead of Leingang for individual honors. Leingang, a 11-time state champion from Bismarck, N.D., also clocked in at 24:11.
Oregon’s veterans backed up the two freshmen as the Ducks ran as a pack for nearly the entire 8,000 meter distance.
Ryan Pickering, a junior from West Palm Beach, Fla., finished fourth in 24:14. Sophomore Matthew Melancon, from Eugene, Ore., claimed the No. 7 spot overall in 24:18, while Jeramy Elkaim wrapped up the Ducks’ scoring; the junior from Livingston, N.J., was eighth in 24:20.
For good measure, the Ducks had junior Daniel Winn, from Portland, Ore., ninth, also in 24:20.
“I think that was probably our best spread we’ve had one-to-five in a really long time,” said associate head coach Andy Powell. “We did a really nice job running together and that’s not always easy to do, especially for a younger team.
“We pretty much followed the race plan, which was to race together as long as we could,” said Powell. “We told them they had to stay together for the first five (kilometers) and we actually made it over six, so that’s a really good sign.”
The third-ranked Duck women overcame a fall by Penney that left her bloody from a long gash on the back of her leg to finish second overall. No. 1 Providence won with 50 points, followed by Oregon with 85, No. 9 Cornell with 101, No. 24 Boston College with 110 and Wisconsin with 111 to round out the top 5.
“In terms of getting to the postseason, it was important to beat Cornell and Boston College, and to be able to accomplish that even with Sarah going down, was an excellent result for us,” said assistant coach Maurica Powell.
Megan Patrignelli picked up the stick for her fallen teammate and placed sixth overall. The junior from Monroe, N.Y., covered the 5,000 meter course in 17:22. Emily Sisson of Providence was the overall winner in 16:51.
Freshman Maggie Schmaedick was Oregon’s No. 2 runner on Friday. The Eugene, Ore., native took 11th overall in 17:33. Sophomore Molly Grabill, from Poway, Calif., was a second behind Schmaedick in 12th (17:34).
“It was great to have Megan step up and probably run the race of her career for us,” said Maurica Powell. “Maggie Schmaedick had a great race for us and Molly Grabill had the flu all week and really toughed this one out.”
Abbey Leonardi made a successful return to her native New England. The sophomore from Kennebunkport, Maine, placed 17th overall in 17:35 for the Ducks. Penny, from Paradise Valley, Ariz., recovered to check in as Oregon’s No. 5 scorer, placing 40th in 18:13.
“Sarah had a pretty hard fall that left her leg all bloody, and for her to get up and finish as our fifth runner showed a lot of toughness,” said Maurica Powell. “She’ll probably be a little sore tomorrow, but she’ll be fine.”
The teams next return home to host the Bill Dellinger Invitational on Oct. 6 at Springfield Country Club.
“This was a good meet for us to have after fall camp,” said Johnson. “We’ll learn from this, add a few more runners to the mix for both teams and then try to keep getting better each week.
“We’re certainly going to enjoy today, but then it’s time to come home and get back to work and get ready for the next meet.”
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