EUGENE, Ore. - The Oregon men's and women's cross country teams will open the 2012 season Saturday at the Pier Park Invitational in Portland, Ore. The men's 6,000 meter race opens the day at 10:30 a.m., followed by the women's 5,000 meter run at 11:15 a.m.
The Ducks will race against men's teams from Portland and Portland State, while the women will face the Pilots and Vikings as well as Oregon State. The meet will be scored as a three-way dual among the men's teams and a four-way dual for the women. Eugene's Northwest Christian University and Clark College will also send teams to Pier Park.
Several Ducks could see their first varsity cross country action for Oregon, including senior transfers Alexi Pappas and Katie Conlon for the women. Conversely a number of younger runners will debut for the men, including redshirt freshmen Chris Brewer and Matthew Melancon and true freshman Joe Holvey.
The meet in the Rose City will be a homecoming of sorts for sophomore Daniel Winn (Cleveland High School). Other state natives running for the Ducks this weekend include senior Taylor Wallace (Klamath Falls), junior Tim Costin (Springfield), sophomore Cole Watson (Rogue River) and freshmen Holvey and Melancon, both from Eugene.
The Oregon women opened the year at No. 1 in the USTFCCCA preseason poll, while the men were No. 22. Portland's men are No. 7, while the Pilot women are among the teams also receiving votes.
In the West Region rankings, the Duck women are No. 1 with UP sixth. Portland's men are No. 1 with the Ducks fourth.
PIER PARK INVITATIONAL MEET DETAILS - Pier Park, Portland, Ore.
Time: 10:30 a.m. PDT
Length: 6,000 Meters
Teams (5): Oregon, Portland, Portland State, Clark College, Northwest Christian.
Oregon Entries: Those making their debuts for the Ducks could include redshirt freshmen Chris Brewer and Matthew Melancon and true freshman Joe Holvey. Other tentative entries for the Ducks include juniors Ben DeJarnette, Tim Costin and Mitch Hunt and sophomores Colby Alexander, Cole Watson and Daniel Winn.
Time: 11:15 a.m. PDT
Length: 5,000 Meters
Teams (6): Oregon, Oregon State, Portland, Portland State, Clark College, Northwest Christian.
Oregon Entries: A pair of senior transfers may be donning the Oregon singlet for the first time - Alexi Pappas from Dartmouth and Katie Conlon from Jamestown (N.D.) College. The remainder of the entries are returning letterwinners including seniors Becca Friday, Anne Kesselring, Sarah Penney and Taylor Wallace, and sophomore Megan Patrignelli.
The top five finishers account for the team dual score and the next two may displace runners from opposing teams.
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-12 Conference
15 Big East Conference
13 Southeastern Conference
10 Big XII
9 Big Ten
9 Conference USA
The Ducks open the season in earnest with the seventh annual Bill Dellinger Invitational, Saturday, Sept., 29 at Springfield Golf Course.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE TEAMS
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW
On the heels of their third NCAA top-five finish in the last five years, the Women of Oregon figure to be one of the more seasoned and talented squads nationally in 2012.
Senior Jordan Hasay leads a host of upperclassmen rich with postseason experience, while newcomers Alexi Pappas and Allie Woodward could push the Ducks' depth and talent level up several notches this fall.
Hasay is one of seven seniors on the roster, and will undoubtedly be one to watch in 2012. The Arroyo Grande, Calif., native was the 2011 NCAA runner-up, won the NCAA West Regional title and was third at the Pac-12 meet.
She is now the most decorated runner in school history with 14 All-America awards combined between cross country and track and field.
Fortunately, she won't be alone when it comes to leadership. Fellow seniors Becca Friday, Anne Kesselring, Sarah Penney and Taylor Wallace all have run championship-level races.
Kesselring (Nurnberg, Germany) has three NCAA Championships appearances to her credit, while Friday (Bellingham, Wash.) has one, despite the fact that those two are more disposed to the middle distances during the track season.
Penny (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) made her Pac-12 and NCAA West Regional debut in 2012, while Wallace (Klamath Falls, Ore.) has three straight conference cross country appearances.
Junior Lanie Thompson emerged as a consistent fourth runner for the Ducks in 2011. The High Bridge, N.J., native has appeared in every championship level race for the Ducks each of the past two years to join Hasay and Kesselring on a very short list.
The sophomore class is loaded with potential. Molly Grabill (Poway, Calif.) was the only freshman to run in the NCAA Championships for the Ducks in 2011. Megan Patrignelli (Monroe, N.Y.) made her debut at the Pac-12 meet, while middle distance specialist Laura Roesler (Fargo, N.D.) also added depth.
The Ducks will need to replace their No. 2 and No. 3 runners following the graduation of Claire Michel and Bronwyn Crossman.
To that end, Oregon has a pair of transfers and a number of freshmen.
On of the most intriguing newcomers to cross country may already be on the team. Allie Woodward redshirted the 2011 season her first fall in Eugene, but the Green Bay, Wis., native impressed in the spring, taking third in the 10,000 at the Pac-12 championships, before finishing fifth at that distance at the NCAA Championships. She went on to win the U.S. junior title at 5,000 meters and placed eighth at the IAAF World Junior Championships.
She'll be joined by a pair of senior transfers - Alexi Pappas from Dartmouth and Katie Conlon from Jamestown (N.D.) College. Pappas is a talented veteran distance runner who finished third in the steeplechase at the 2012 NCAA Championships.
The Ducks also have a group of freshmen newcomers in Skylar Evans (Midlothian, Va.), Megan Fristoe (Bend, Ore.), Annie Leblanc (Repentigny, Quebec), Abbey Leonardi (Kenebunkport, Maine) and Ashley Maton (Bend, Ore.).
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW
With only two seniors on the roster, Oregon will be a young, but talented team in 2012.
The Ducks graduated four-time All-American Luke Puskedra and fellow senior Chris Kwiatkowski from last season's squad, but return seven runners from the 2011 Pac-12 Championships, and four who appeared at the NCAA West Regional.
The team will be led by Parker Stinson, a junior from Austin, Texas, who was seventh at the Pac-12 meet a year ago and 17th at the Regional. He'll be joined by Jeramy Elkaim, a sophomore from Livingston, N.J., who impressed as a freshman with a 20th-place finish at the league championships and a 38th-place showing at the Regional.
Ryan Pickering also continued the youth movement; the sophomore from West Palm Beach, Fla., was 39th at the 2011 Pac-12 Championships and also qualified for the IAAF World Junior Championships in the 10,000 meters.
The experience on the Oregon squad is impressive.
Junior Ben DeJarnette, from Mechanicsville, Va., has appeared in every championship race for the Ducks over the last two seasons, while Oregon's underclassmen look to become the leaders of the future.
The 2011 season proved to be a great testing ground for sophomores Boru Guyota (Portland, Ore.), Matt Jablonski (Cockeysville, Md.) and Cole Watson (Rogue River, Ore.) who all ran at the Pac-12 Championships.
The Ducks also featured juniors Tim Costin (Springfield, Ore.), Mitch Hunt (Fremont, Neb.) and Hank Morrison (Carmel, Calif.) and sophomores Colby Alexander (Strongsville, Ohio) and Daniel Winn (Portland, Ore.) during the 2011 season.
Oregon had a number of freshmen redshirt the 2012 season, including Chris Brewer (Vista, Calif.), Russell Hornsby (Williamsburg, Va.), Matthew Melancon (Eugene, Ore.) and Chad Noelle (Greene, N.Y.).
The four newcomers for 2012 will make for some intriguing additions to the roster, especially Trevor Dunbar, who should have an immediate impact. The senior from Kodiak, Alaska, was a two-time cross country All-American for the University of Portland before transferring to Oregon in January.
Dunbar was 35th at the NCAA Championships in 2011 as a junior to help the Pilots take eighth in the team competition (30:05, 10,000 meters). He finished 25th as a sophomore at the NCAA meet in 2010 (30:21).
The Ducks have also brought in Freddy Ovett (Melbourne, Australia) from overseas, as well as Virginia transfer Patrick Todd.
In recent seasons, the men have experienced success on a national level rarely seen in TrackTown 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 four years have certainly lived up to the heritage established by the legends of TrackTown USA. In 24 NCAA championships and 16 Pac-10 championships, the Men and Women of Oregon have won 14 championships and another 13 silver medals. Here's the list from the last four years:
Gold - Champions Silver - Runners-up
2008 NCAA Men's Cross Country 2008 NCAA Women's Cross Country
2008 Pac-10 Men's Cross Country 2008 Pac-10 Women's Cross Country
2009 NCAA Men's Indoor Track & Field 2009 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track & Field
2009 Pac-10 Women's Track & Field 2009 NCAA Men's Outdoor Track & Field
2009 Pac-10 Men's Track & Field 2009 NCAA Women's Cross Country
2010 NCAA Women's Indoor Track & Field 2009 NCAA Men's Cross Country
2010 Pac-10 Women's Track & Field 2009 Pac-10 Women's Cross Country
2010 Pac-10 Men's Track & Field 2009 Pac-10 Men's Cross Country
2011 NCAA Women's Indoor Track & Field 2010 NCAA Men's Indoor Track & Field
2011 Pac-10 Women's Track & Field 2010 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track & Field
2011 Pac-10 Men's Track & Field 2010 Pac-10 Men's Cross Country
2012 NCAA Women's Indoor Track & Field 2011 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track & Field
2012 Pac-10 Women's Track & Field 2012 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track & Field
2012 Pac-10 Men's Track & Field
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