SEATTLE - Oregon Head Track and Field Coach, Robert Johnson could not have asked for a better start to the 2014 indoor season as freshman Sasha Wallace set a school record in the 60 meter hurdles, the first finals event at the 2014 UW Indoor Preview where Oregon finished with six event wins.
“It was a good day for us overall,” Johnson said. “Our freshmen came out and were able to apply what they have learned in practice, which is exactly what we wanted to see.”
Wallace’s first run in an Oregon uniform came during the 60 meter hurdles prelims where she ran the second-fastest time in Oregon history (8.37). Shortly after, the Castro Valley, Calif., native ran 8.21 in the finals, topping Brianne Theisen’s school-record mark of 8.25 set in 2012. Wallace’s run was the fastest by a collegian in the field and only one hundredth of a second behind the top NCAA time this season.
But more records would come from the reigning NCAA indoor champion Women of Oregon in their 2014 debut.
While not her first race at Oregon, the 60 meters was Jasmine Todd’s first race representing the Ducks. The redshirt freshman qualified second for the finals behind teammate Jenna Prandini but took charge in the finals by setting a Dempsey Indoor record and a meet record, winning in 7.20 seconds, the second-fastest time in Oregon history behind English Gardner (7.12). Prandini, a redshirt sophomore, set a personal record with a time of 7.24 seconds to improve the fourth-fastest time in school history, a mark she already owned.
The times ran by Todd and Prandini are the fastest in country so far this season.
Johnson was quick to give credit to new sprints coach Curtis Taylor who joined the staff in September.
“Coach Taylor has not only done a phenomenal job with Sasha and the hurdlers, but the sprinters as well,” Johnson said. “For Jasmine to come out after a redshirt year, get back into the fray, and run a 7.20 is great. If you look at that group in general there are lots of good things there.”
Laura Roesler, the 800 meter NCAA runner-up last season, moved up to the mile for her 2014 debut. The senior waited for her time to strike and made a late move on the final lap, surging to win the race in the second-fastest NCAA time this season (4:40.63).
Brittany Mann rounded out the women’s side, garnering a win in the field events with a mark of 56-0.50 (17.08m) in the weight throw. Mann also took second in the shot put with a personal record of nearly two feet (46-3.25).
On the men’s side, Oregon received its first win from junior hurdler Johnathan Cabral who took the 60 meter hurdles in 7.77 seconds, just off his personal record of 7.72 set at last season’s NCAA Championships.
Greg Skipper threw a personal record of more than six feet in the weight throw, earning the event win in 63-4.25 (19.31m).
Even on a day that was highlighted by the sprints and hurdles, Johnson said he was happy with the team balance on display in the season opener.
“Our coaches have done an excellent job of preparing our athletes for the season opener. Coach (Erik) Whitsitt and (Jamie) Cook have kept our throwers and multi-event athletes progressing. Coaches Andy and Maurica Powell have our distance runners on track. We saw a lot of personal bests today which is fantastic for this early in the season."
Oregon will be back in action next weekend in Lexington, Ky., for the Rod McCravy Memorial Invitational. The meet is a two-day event, Friday and Saturday (Jan. 24-25).
“Today gave us some feedback on how we have been training so far this year. We will come back, apply what we learned today and adjust for Kentucky next weekend.”