PHILADELPHIA – The men’s distance medley relay is a combined total of 4,000 meters, and Oregon was in a battle for 3,700 of those until the Ducks’ anchor, Edward Cheserek, decided to let loose at the Penn Relays, Friday.
The freshman three-time NCAA champion flew past Stanford’s Michael Atchoo and Kentucky’s Matt Hillenbrand on the back stretch with 300 meters to go in his mile-long anchor leg, increasing his lead with every stride. The Newark, N.J., native crossed the finish line with a three-second advantage on the field in a time of 9:25.40, the fastest in school history which moves Oregon up to the seventh-fastest school in NCAA history. Cheserek’s mile split was clocked at 3:57.98.
“Any time you get a chance to win a Penn Wheel is a good thing,” said head coach Robert Johnson. “To come here on the East Coast and showcase those guys in the DMR is excellent. Coach Powell put together a great strategy and it worked perfectly.”
NCAA Champion Mac Fleet started the race in the 1,200 (2:53.95), passing the baton off in a close second behind Stanford. Oregon’s 400-meter All-American, Mike Berry, took the lead during the second leg (44.72) and Boru Guyota ran his 800 leg in 1:48.77, handing off only meters behind the Cardinal.
The three seniors set the stage for Cheserek, who performed what has become a signature for the freshman, sitting in second before unleashing a hefty kick.
“We have such a good, deep team,” said associate head coach Andy Powell. “Really the credit goes to our seniors. When you have good leadership you go a long ways.”
The win was Oregon’s second in the DMR at the Penn Relays, after earning a wheel in 2010. It is also the seventh overall win for the Ducks in the meet’s history.
Marybeth Sant, Phyllis Francis, Jenna Prandini and Jasmine Todd posted the best 4x100 finish at the Penn Relays in Oregon history, finishing second in 43.33. The Ducks were passed in the final exchange by now six-time consecutive champion, Texas A&M, which won in a world-leading time of 43.11. Oregon’s time was only two hundredths of a second off its season best at Mt. SAC (43.31).
“It was a good chance to race some of the people we’ll see later on in the season and a good learning experience for us,” Johnson said. “Now we’ll go back to the drawing board and see if we can clean a few things up.”
Sasha Wallace competed individually for Oregon, finishing seventh in the 100 hurdles heats. The freshman crossed the finish line in 13.42 to finish second in her heat and earn a spot in the Championship of America, Saturday.
Oregon will resume competition at the Penn Relays during the final day, Saturday. The men’s 4xmile relay will start the day for the Ducks at 10:25 a.m. PT.