EUGENE, Ore. - The Women of Oregon swept both the 200 meters and the 800 meters to easily win their fourth straight conference crown Sunday before 7,144 fans at Historic Hayward Field. The men used wins in the 800 meters and 110 hurdles and an impressive opener by the 4x100 meter relay to keep the remainder of the field at bay and win their sixth consecutive league title.
"We are a part of a great conference," said Oregon Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna. "I'm very proud of these kids, our staff, and even though it is great to host, it is tough to host too. Still, to win the final Pac-10 Championship (in 2011), and first Pac-12 Championship is great."
On a warm and sunny day at Historic Hayward Field, the men became just the second school in league history to win six conference titles in a row, and the first to do it in nearly 50 years. USC was the last team to accomplish that, winning eight in a row from 1957-64. For the women, Oregon became just the second school to win four titles in a row, joining UCLA, which won eighth straight from 1997-2004.
The women going away with 200.5 points, followed by Stanford with 123.5, Arizona with 94.5, USC with 91 and Arizona State with 85. On the men's side, Oregon kept piling up points across the board to win with 140 points, followed by Arizona State with 116.5, Arizona with 94, UCLA with 86 and Washington and Stanford tied for fifth with 78.
Not only did the women lead wire-to-wire, they slammed the door shut early when Laura Roesler, Becca Friday and Claudia Francis swept the 800 meters. Roseler had just enough over the last 20 meters to win in a seasonal-best 2:05.13 and hold off her teammates. Friday pushed hard for second in a personal-best 2:05.34, while Francis finished in 2:05.42.
"I couldn't have asked for a better race," said Roesler. "Anyone could have taken it. A sweep is a perfect day. (I was thinking) just win the hell out of that last stretch. I felt someone coming from behind, but didn't want to do anything until I crossed the line. I ran in form and heard the crowd and they carried me through the end."
That gave Oregon an insurmountable 52-point lead that only grew from there when the Ducks added an impressive 1-2-3 sweep in the 200 meters. Sophomore sensation English Gardner jumped out of the blocks and easily outdistanced the field to win in 22.82. Phyllis Francis followed her in 23.03 and Lauryn Newson was third in 23.09. Those were the second, third and fourth fastest times in school history.
Newson may have produced Oregon's overall effort the best of anyone in the meet. Minutes before her third-place finish in the 200, she won the triple jump by an inch, going a personal-best 43-4.25/13.21m. That was the second-longest triple jump in school history. The senior from Richmond, Calif., was also the runner-up in the 100 meters in 11.38 and took the third leg on Oregon's winning 4x100 meter relay team. For her 26.5 total points, Newson was named Pac-12 Athlete of the Meet.
"It was a busy day, but it paid off; not really tired anymore, probably from all the adrenaline," said Newson. "I have been waiting for this moment for a long time and I'm finally getting into the swing of things with a lot of really good practice.
"What makes today different is I did really well in every event. Today feels even better and it's my last time at Hayward Field. We got the spirit today."
Gardner nearly equaled Newson, adding a win in the 100 meters in a windy, all-conditions personal best of 11.00 to win going away. She added the second leg the Ducks' 4x100 relay. That squad, which also featured Phyllis Francis and Amber Purvis won in 43.72, the second-fastest time in school history. Purvis was also eighth in the 100 meters in 11.70.
"I'm not used to the heat in Oregon, but I got it," said Gardner. "I got a great start and I'm just really happy. The lion was finally unleashed."
The seventh-ranked women also counted wins in the 400 meters and 1,500 meters.
Phyllis Francis ran a strong 400 to win in a personal-best 52.02, No. 3 on the Oregon list. Chizoba Okodogbe and Devin Gosberry also scored in the 400, with Okodogbe placing fourth in 53.44 and Gosberry eighth in a personal-best 53.96.
"I wasn't expecting it today, especially to PR," said Francis. "My main goal was to PR and then get as many points for my team."
Jordan Hasay captured a thrilling 1,500 meters that saw the lead go back and forth between three runners - Hasay, Katie Flood of Washington and Jessica Tebo of Colorado. Flood made her move early, but could not shake the other two runners. Tebo then made a break late, but Hasay covered and kept a charging Flood at bay to defend her 1,500 title in 4:13.28. Oregon also added a fourth-place finish from Anne Kesselring (4:17.20) and a fifth-place finish from Friday (4:19.82) for 19 points in that race.
The women also saw a surprising performance from Laura Bobek in the discus. The sophomore from Astoria, Ore., placed fourth with a personal-best throw of 170-6/51.96m that tied her for seventh on the UO career list.
In the pole vault, Kortney Ross tied for fourth with a clearance at 13-4.5, while Sammie Clark was seventh at 13-0.75.
Some freshmen also got in the scoring column Sunday. Chancey Summers and Lauren Crockett tied for fourth in the high jump at 5-8.5/1.74m, while Allie Woodward was sixth-place in the 5,000 meters in a personal-best 16:24.10.
The women wrapped up the scoring with a second place finish in the 4x400 meter relay in 3:32.59. The team of Gosberry, Okodogbe, Phyllis Francis and Roesler ran the fifth-fastest time in school history.
"The women really dominated," said Lananna. "I didn't imagine we would score 200 points, even in my wildest dreams. I hadn't anticipated that at all; I thought we would get around 170."
Getting a huge boost from the Ducks' championship football team once again, the men set the tone right away on the first running event with a runner-up performance in the 4x100 meter relay. Dior Mathis, Arthur Delaney, Joeal Hotchkins, and De'Anthony Thomas ran 40.09, tied for the seventh-fastest time in school history.
The Ducks were mired in the middle of the pack when Thomas, the football freshman sensation, took the baton and ran down everyone but the Sun Devils.
"I'm just trying to stay healthy and every day I just have to improve," said Thomas. "(Yesterday's race) motivated me to just work harder. I have great chemistry with my teammates and I'm really proud."
A short while later, Elijah Greer won the 800 meters in 1:48.48 by loping around the outside with his long strides to edge by Washington State's Joe Abbott, who was second in 1:48.59. Boru Guyota was fifth in 1:49.36 and freshman Russell Hornsby was sixth in 1:51.63 for the Ducks.
"I had to work to get back in position and fight until the last stretch," said Greer. "I thought I got (Abbott) and then he fought back, but I said there was no way I was going to lose this. I gave everything I had. I was very tired afterwards.
"I had to battle people out. Today I absolutely had to win, but it was a fight and I felt the strain. I definitely heard the crowd, and I thought there is no way I can lose this. For the fans, I wanted to give a show and work hard. You can't always control the outcome, but I'll give everything I can. I want to be in the moment and leave nothing behind."
Oregon was also a winner in the 110 hurdles, where freshman Johnathan Cabral got to the hurdle first and was safely over all 10 barriers in a windy personal-best 13.61. Oregon also got points from Eric Hersey's sixth-place finish in 13.34 and Trevor Ferguson's eight-place time on 14.56.
"I started shaky, but made up for it," said Cabral. "My mind goes blank and my body takes over. That's where practice comes in."
Mike Berry was the runner-up in the 400 meters in 45.85, his fastest time of the year, and also anchored the 4x400 meter relay team to third place. That squad of Bryan Harper, Hornsby, Greer and Berry timed a season-best 3:08.30.
Freshman Arthur Delaney was a key contributor in both the 100 and 200 meters. The Gresham, Ore., native was third in the 100 in 10.24 and fourth in the 200 in 20.73. Both times were the fourth-fastest in school history.
The men, half of whom were competing at the conference meet for the first time in their Oregon careers, scored 14 points in the 1,500 meters. Sophomore Trevor Dunbar led that group with a third-place finish in 3:47.84, with senior Travis Stanford fourth in 3:48.61, freshman Colby Alexander seventh in 3:49.25 and freshman Chad Noelle eighth in 3:49.46.
Oregon also posted 12 points in the 5,000 meters, with Dunbar taking fourth in 14:00.44, Luke Puskedra fifth in 14:01.03 and Parker Stinson seventh in 14:09.17.
The men counted points in the field from senior Brian Schaudt's sixth-place finish in the triple jump (50-9.5/15.48m) and sophomore Tanner Harris' seventh-place finish hammer (188-4/57.41m).
"Everybody thought we were the underdogs coming in, but we knew what we had to do," said Berry. "We wanted to come out here and compete to the best of our ability and bring a sixth championship back here to Oregon."