by Rob Moseley
Arizona's Lawi Lalang is the three-time defending conference champion at 1,500 meters, and a six-time NCAA champion. That puts him — at least in UO senior Mac Fleet's eyes — among the greatest NCAA athletes that ever was.
That made Fleet's win over Lalang in the 1,500 on Saturday in the Pepsi Dual Meet between Oregon and Arizona that much sweeter. Fleet and the UO coaches correctly predicted that Lalang would start quickly — the first lap was run in 57 seconds — so Fleet stayed with him for most of the race before kicking past Lalang in the homestretch to win.
Fleet, the defending NCAA champion, crossed in 3 minutes, 44.04 seconds, helping the UO men win the meet, 144-47. Lalang, the NCAA champ at 5,000 and 10,000 last spring, was second in 3:44.79.
"It's always about getting the 'W,' and it's difficult against an athlete of that caliber," Fleet said. "… I'm happy to get the 'W,' and I didn't have to work harder than I wanted to this early in the season."
The Oregon women also easily won in the dual-meet format, with 106 points to Arizona's 52. UO coach Robert Johnson's hope of seeing Laura Roesler finish the 800 under 2 minutes was not to be, but Roesler did set a meet record by winning in 2:01.10 — fastest in the NCAA this season.
Roesler said she tried to avoid focusing on the 2-minute barrier, recognizing the difficulty of the challenge coming so soon on the heels of the NCAA Indoor Championships, where she won the 800 title. She was pleased with a fast start to Saturday's race, with the first lap run just under a minute.
"Just to go out in under 60 and get a feel for that will help me later on," Roesler said. "I'm not very comfortable going out hard; I'd rather kind of sit back. So it's a good thing that 59 felt pretty comfortable today."
Overall, the UO women won 16 events Saturday, and the men of Oregon won 15. Sasha Wallace crossed first in the 100 hurdles and also won the triple jump on the women's side, while Arthur Delaney doubled in the 100 and 200 for the men.
Greg Skipper's meet record of 231 feet, 6 inches in the hammer throw — second all-time at Oregon — also stood out on a cool, breezy afternoon at Hayward FIeld.
Sam Crouser won the discus for the Oregon men, and his sister Haley won the javelin, with multi-sport star Liz Brenner taking second. Haley Crouser, the national high school record holder, threw 164-5 on her final attempt, ninth-best in UO history.
"It's my first win at Hayward Field as a Duck, so it's definitely something special," Crouser said.
There was more sibling flavor in the women's 1,500, where Oregon senior Sarah Penney won in 4:18.74, holding off her sister Kate, an Arizona sophomore. Kate made a push on the sisters' final pass through the backstretch, but Sarah held her off and then extended her lead through the last 150.
"I just thought, my youngest sister cannot beat me," Penney said. "I kicked into high gear."
The men's team got contributions from two UO football players, with receiver Devon Allen scoring six points in the hurdles races and cornerback Dior Mathis adding a point with a third-place finish in the 100 meters.
Allen won the 110 hurdles in a personal-best 13.96 seconds, and took third in the 400 hurdles in 55.06. That capped a long day in which Allen also ran the opening leg for a 4x100 relay that was disqualified for a bad handoff later in the race.
Allen and Mathis were coming off their first of five weeks of UO spring football practice, which will limit Allen to two track workouts a week. That will be enough to keep his technique sharp, Allen said, but heavier workouts will wait until after the spring football game on May 3.
"I think it's pretty doable," Allen said of the balancing act. "It's just a matter of keeping my body healthy — getting in the training room, getting treatment, taking ice baths. Stuff like that to keep my legs fresh."
NOTES: Brittany Mann's 188-0 in the hammer was fifth all-time at Oregon. … Bradley Laubacher matched his PR of 6-11 in the high jump, finishing second. … Jasmine Todd's second-place time of 11.46 in the 100 meters is fourth in UO history. Oregon's Jenna Prandini won in 11.42, but has a faster PR on the books. … Wallace's best triple jump of 41-7 ranks fourth in school history.