EUGENE, Ore. - Call it a prologue to a championship.
While much of the nation's attention Saturday will be focused on the football game between Oregon and Stanford in Palo Alto, with the winner taking the driver's seat in the Pac-12 North and potentially beyond, the Oregon cross country teams will be seeking their own entry into the NCAA Championships that day on the Farm as well, as the Cardinal are hosting the NCAA West Regional on the Stanford Golf Course.
It will be a unique experience for Duck fans in the Bay Area, who can rise early and visit the ESPN GameDay set between 6 and 9 a.m., then head to Stanford Golf Course for the NCAA West Regional. The men race at 10 a.m., followed by the women at 11:15 a.m. And then the eventful day wraps with the Ducks-Cardinal football game at 5 p.m.
The top two teams in each cross country race automatically qualify for the national championships Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
The men's race features No. 6 Stanford, No. 8 Portland, No. 17 Oregon and No. 21 UCLA, while the women's race will be one of the best regionals in the nation. The six ranked teams in the race include No. 6 Washington, No. 8 Stanford, No. 11 Oregon, No. 16 Arizona, No. 26 California and No. 27 San Francisco. Oregon's Jordan Hasay is the defending women's West Regional champion.
Admission to the Regional Championships is free.
The men, who step up to a 10,000 meter course for the first time this season, will look to repeat their solid third-place showing from the Pac-12 championships Oct. 29 at Arizona State. The Ducks used a 5-7 finish from veterans Luke Puskedra and Parker Stinson, followed by three freshmen (Jeramy Elkaim, Lukas Verzbicas, Ryan Pickering) in the top 40 to claim third behind Colorado and Stanford. Puskedra, a senior, was fifth in 22:58, while Stinson, a sophomore was seventh in 23:28.
The men and also list senior Chris Kwiatkowski, junior Bryce Burgess sophomores Tim Costin, Ben DeJarnette, Mitch Hunt and Brian Shrader, and freshmen Boru Guyota, Matt Jablonski, Cole Watson and Daniel Winn among their entries.
Of Oregon's entries, Puskerda is the most experienced in Regional competition. He was fourth at the 2010 NCAA West Regional after placing sixth the previous two years. He comes into the meet with a string of seven consecutive top-10 finishes dating back to his junior season. Others with previous Regional experience include DeJarnette, who was 28th a year ago, Stinson, who was right behind in 31st, and Burgess.
The men won this meet in 2010 with 63 points, two better than Stanford.
The women are virtually the opposite of the men, with only four runners having not previously run in a regional competition - freshmen Molly Grabill and Megan Patrignelli and juniors Sarah Penney and Taylor Wallace. In fact, this will be the third Regional championships for Hasay and senior Claire Michel, and the second for senior Bronwyn Crossman, juniors Becca Friday and Anne Kesselring and sophomore Lanie Thompson.
Thompson was 27th in this race a year ago and Kesselring was 36th, while Michel placed 26th in 2009.
DUCKS AT THE NCAA WEST REGIONAL
Women: Oregon has won this event 12 times, which is second only to Stanford's 14 titles. The Ducks' team titles came in 1976-81, 1983, 1985, 1987-88, 1990-91 and 1995. Oregon has also produced the individual champion on 10 occasions, including last year's winner, Jordan Hasay. Penny Graves won twice (1986, 1988), while Robin Baker (1978), Molly Morton (1979), Kathy Hayes (1983), Annette Hand (1987), Lucy Nusrala (1991), Milena Glusac (1994) and Alexandra Kosinski (2008) each claimed one crown.
Men: Oregon has won this event eight times, including last season. Stanford has won the most with 11 titles, followed by the Ducks and Arizona with eight. In addition to the 2010 title, the Ducks' claimed the crown from 2006-08, 1982-83 and 1988-89. The Ducks have also produced eight individual champions, including Galen Rupp in 2007 and '09. Other individual winners for Oregon include two-time champs Jim Hill (1982-83) and Karl Keska (1995-96), as well as Brad Hudson (1989) and Steve Fein (1999).
ABOUT THE WEST REGION
The NCAA West Region covers teams from the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. There are three western Universities that are exceptions - Idaho State, Nevada and Northern Arizona, which are in the Mountain Region.
Each team is allowed seven runners. Of those, the top five account for the team score and the next two may displace runners from opposing teams.
ON TO THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
The top two teams from each of the nine NCAA Regional Championships help on Saturday automatically advance to the the NCAA Championships Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind. An additional 13 men's and 13 women's teams will be extended at-large bids on Sunday. Also, the top four individuals not on the top two regional teams will be guaranteed selection to the NCAA Championships, provided that they have finished in the Regional top 25. Two additional individuals will receive at-large bids on Sunday.
NCAA WEST REGIONAL MEN'S RACE
Time: 10 a.m.
Length: 10,000 Meters
Live Results: www.gostanford.com and www.ncaa.com. Results will also be posted on www.goducks.com.
Teams (27): Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California , UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Idaho, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Oregon, Pepperdine, Portland, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State.
Oregon Entries: The Ducks will select their starting seven from among an NCAA roster of 15, including All-America senior Luke Puskedra. Others include seniors Chris Kwiatkowski and Travis Stanford, junior Bruce Burgess, sophomores Tim Costin, Ben DeJarnette, Mitch Hunt, Brian Shrader and Parker Stinson and freshmen Colby Alexander, Jeramy Elkaim, Boru Guyota, Matt Jablonski, Chad Noelle, Ryan Pickering, Lukas Verzbicas, Cole Watson and Daniel Winn.
NCAA West Regional Experience: This will be the fourth NCAA West Regional race for Luke Puskedra, and the second for DeJarnette, Stinson and Burgess.
NCAA WEST REGIONAL WOMEN'S RACE
Time: 11:15 a.m. PST
Length: 6,000 Meters
Live Results: www.gostanford.com and www.ncaa.com. Results will also be posted on www.goducks.com.
Teams (31): Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California , UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Idaho, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Nevada-Las Vegas, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, Portland, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Diego, San Diego State, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State.
Individuals: Stephanie Dye, Eastern Washington, Kaite Mahoney, Eastern Washington, Tonya Turner, Eastern Washington; Katie Castro, Pacific, Melissa Hopper, Pacific; Jazmin Quiroz, Pacific, Rebecca Tuttle, Pacific; Kate Lambdin, San Jose State, Aylin Mejia, San Jose State, Beth Raymond, San Jose State.
Oregon Entries: The Duck women have junior Jordan Hasay, the 2010 NCAA West Regional champion, leading the way. Oregon also has seniors Bronwyn Crossman and Claire Michel, juniors Becca Friday, Anne Kesselring, Sarah Penney and Taylor Wallace, sophomores Sarah Andrews and Lanie Thompson and freshmen Molly Grabill, Megan Patrignelli and Allie Woodward among its entries.
NCAA West Regional Experience: This will be the third West Regional appearances for junior Jordan Hasay and senior Claire Michel, and the second appearance for senior Bronwyn Crossman, juniors Becca Friday and Anne Kesselring and sophomore Lanie Thompson.
VIN LANANNA AT THE PAC-12 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
The 2011 season ends with 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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