by Rob Moseley
Two weeks ago, after making his outdoor debut in a 10,000-meter race at Stanford, Oregon freshman distance sensation Edward Cheserek returned to Eugene to watch his teammates compete in a dual meet with Arizona.
Cheserek looked around the hallowed ground of Hayward Field and thought to himself, I can't wait to get my time to run with these guys, and feel the crowd at Hayward Field.
That chance finally came Saturday.
Making his UO debut at Hayward along with Northeastern transfer Eric Jenkins, Cheserek won the Bill McChesney Jr. 5,000 on Saturday, with a 16-second outdoor PR of 13 minutes, 46.77 seconds. The two new Ducks ran together most of the race, and neither pushed the pace down the stretch so they could finish shoulder to shoulder, Jenkins crossing a hair later in 13:46.80.
Those times figure to qualify Cheserek and Jenkins easily for NCAA Regionals, the goal of most UO competitors Saturday.
"The pace was so great," said Cheserek, who was taken through the first 3,200 meters by UO legend Matt Centrowitz, fresh off a victory in the 1,500 himself. "I was telling (Jenkins), let's just run together. We don't have to run crazy, just run the way coach tells us."
Jenkins was competing for the first time since finishing in 10th place for Northeastern in the 2013 NCAA Championships at Hayward Field. He sat out the cross country and indoor seasons following his transfer to Oregon.
"It's been a long year," Jenkins said with relief. "My first race since June, back at this track and in a different uniform. So this race meant a lot, a big rust-buster."
From the perspective of UO coach Robert Johnson, "They made it look easy. Any time they make it look that easy, that bodes well for them and their future."
The men's 5,000 was one of a number of standout results Johnson pinpointed following the meet. Matt Hidalgo cleared a lifetime best of 17 feet, 3/4 inches in the pole vault, and Josh Melu leaped a wind-aided 49-6 1/2 to win the triple jump.
Laura Bobek threw the discus 166-9 for a victory, and Chancey Summers won the high jump at 5-8 3/4. Ashante Horsley won the 400 in 55.51, and the Ducks got another 1-2 finish in the women's 5,000 when Maggie Schmaedick surged past fellow freshman Frida Berge to win in 16:18.24.
"That's outstanding for those young girls," Johnson said. "So, a good overall day for the Ducks."
"With javelin, it's just minuscule adjustments," Crouser said. "It's just timing stuff, a little bit off. But a little can make a huge difference."
Fresh off three weeks of spring football practice, with almost no technical work on the track yet this spring, freshman Devon Allen won his second and third events of the meet Saturday. Having finished first in the 400 hurdles on Friday, Allen won the 100 in 10.55 seconds Saturday, and then took the 110 hurdles in 13.73 less than 20 minutes later.
Both marks were wind-aided, but Allen was pleased. Football teammate Dior Mathis finished third in the 100 after being first out of the blocks, the sort of thing Allen can put more work into once spring football ends May 3.
"This week has kind of been, just show up and run," Allen said. "Hopefully in meets to come I'm doing a little better technique-wise."
Competing unattached, UO freshman Cullen Prena won both the discus (166-4) and the shot put (56-6).