PHILADELPHIA – Freshman Edward Cheserek was named the Penn Relays Men’s College Athlete of the Meet after helping the Men of Oregon to another victory in the 4xMile relay, Saturday, in addition to a distance medley relay win on Friday.
Cheserek joins Matthew Centrowitz (2010) and Anne Kesselring (2012) as Oregon student-athletes to win the honor. He was awarded the High School Boys Athlete of the Meet in 2012 while a junior at St. Benedict Prep in New Jersey.
“Edward winning the award is a great accomplishment,” said head coach Robert Johnson. “We’ve had a few of those in the past with Matthew and Anne so he’s another one in line with a great tradition of some great Ducks.”
Cheserek ran the meet’s fastest mile split during the second leg of the 4xMile in 3:56.4, a day after he broke open the DMR during the Ducks’ victory, Friday, finishing that mile carry in 3:57.98.
The Ducks were favorites heading into the 4xMile with the 2013 1,500-meter NCAA Champion Mac Fleet, three-time NCAA Champion Cheserek, and 5,000-meter All-American transfer Eric Jenkins. The only member yet to garner national acclaim as a collegian was the formidable freshman, Sam Prakel, who ran a 3:44.67 1,500 last week at the Oregon Relays.
Prakel led off in a tactical first leg, passing off to Cheserek less than a second behind the leader. Cheserek broke away from the pack with 600 meters left, showing his impressive speed and giving Jenkins a three-second cushion. Jenkins increased the Ducks’ lead to 30 meters by the time he finished in 4:01.5, passing off to Fleet who cruised to a split of 4:00.4.
“It was a well-executed race by the guys, and a good plan put together by Coach Powell,” Johnson said. “They put themselves in the right positions to get it done, so kudos for going out there and executing.”
It was only fitting that Fleet carried the baton to victory on the last leg to defend Oregon’s title. The redshirt senior was able to finish his collegiate Penn Relays career with style, picking up his fifth Penn Wheel. Fleet has contributed to all five Oregon men’s victories in the history of the Penn Relays, starting with a 4xMile title as a freshman in 2010. The San Diego native took a look back with 100 meters left before letting the victory sink in down the home stretch in front of 49,103 fans at Franklin Field and finished with the sixth-fastest time in NCAA history, 16:09.67, almost eight seconds ahead of second-place Stanford.
"I'm really happy to toe the line with my teammates here today, yesterday, and back in 2010,” Fleet said. “It's fantastic racing here at The Penn Relays. You want to run the first lap fast to show that you're getting away. When you're far ahead, you have to stay engaged, suck in the crowd, and enjoy the last lap. It was fun."
The women’s 4x400 team of Claudia Francis, Chizoba Okodogbe, Laura Roesler and Phyllis Francis took second in the Championship of America, finishing in 3:29.82. The time is the fourth-fastest in the NCAA this season and the eight-fastest in Oregon history.
The Ducks also finished second in the women’s 4x800 Championship of America behind Villanova in 8:22.54. Claudia Francis, Samantha Murphy and Annie Leblanc set the stage before handing the baton to NCAA Indoor Champion, Roesler, who ran the fastest split of the day during her anchor carry (2:01.86) and closed the 15-meter gap on Villanova’s indoor mile champion, Emily Lipari. With 300 meters to go the two were running even, but Lipari had enough left to pull away down the home stretch. After winning the title in 2012, this is the second-consecutive year Oregon has finished as the runner-up in the event.
The men’s 4x400 team placed third in the final event of the day. Marcus Chambers, Arthur Delaney, Jack Galpin and Mike Berry combined for a time of 3:06.51 which ranks ninth in the NCAA this season and seventh in the Oregon record book.
Freshman Sasha Wallace competed individually for the Ducks and took eighth in the 100 hurdles in 13.85.
Oregon will next compete at the OSU High Performance Meet, May 2, and the Payton Jordan Invitational, May 4.