Pac-12 championships

Stevens sweeps women’s sprints; puts Oregon on map as a sprint school

By Becky Hoag

When Oregon junior Deajah Stevens crossed the finish line in the women’s 200-meter dash at the Pac-12 championships and her time came up on the board, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Not only was it her personal best, but it was the fastest recorded time in the world for this year.

“When I looked up at that time, I was really excited because it didn’t feel that fast,” Stevens said.

Stevens won the 200 Sunday at Hayward Field with a time of 22.09 seconds, beating second-place USC junior Deanna Hill’s time by .32. In third was Oregon junior Hannah Cunliffe, the defending champion, in 22.60 seconds.

The Ducks ran strong in the women’s sprints this year with Stevens also winning the women’s 100 meters in 11.05 seconds, just ahead of teammate Ariana Washington, second in 11.10, and Cunliffe, third in 11.11. This was enough for the announcer to comment, “Now talk about getting your Ducks in a row!” (more…)

Oregon women dominate en route to ninth straight Pac-12 title

By Gus Morris 

Another year, another Pac-12 track and field outdoor title for Oregon’s women.

The Oregon women’s track and field team secured its ninth Pac-12 Championship at Hayward Field on Sunday with a final score of 189. The Ducks entered the day tied for fifth with eventual runner-up USC  but scored 165 points on the final day to run away with the victory.

USC finished with 135 points.

“Super surprised by the margins,” Oregon head coach Robert Johnson said. “Under no circumstance did I think it would be 50, 60 points or anything like that.”

The matchup that supplied the most intrigue, Oregon and USC, looked primed to take center stage on the final day of competition. Both teams entered the day with 24 points and looked to be in great position to make a run at the title.

But the Ducks proved to be too much. They won six events and scored points in all but one event.

“Everyone went out there and competed,” said Raevyn Rogers, who won the 800 and helped Oregon place second in the 4×400. “We didn’t even think about the points, and that’s what our coaches wanted us to do.”

It was Oregon’s sprinters who dominated the day. Deajah Stevens, Arianna Washington and Hannah Cunliffe combined for 40 points in individual events and went 1-2-3 in the 100 meters. That trio, joined by Alaysha Johnson, also won the 4×100 in 42.81 seconds.

Saturday was the first time in over a month that Stevens, Washington and Cunliffe — the core three of the group — raced together in a month. The trio hasn’t been all healthy since the Mt. Sac Relays back in April.

Robert Johnson said that the group is progressing and should be ready for the NCAA Regionals in two weeks. “Probably a couple of weeks away,” he said.

Oregon’s long distance runners also got in on the scoring. Freshman Katie Rainsberger finished second in the 1,500 (4:23.07)  and third in the 5,000 (16:13.53). She was followed closely by Jessica Hull in the 1,500, and Samantha Nadel and Lilli Burdon in the 5,000.

Johnson praised the efforts of all the athletes who scored points, not just the winners.

“Those fifth, sixth and seventh in points, those definitely make a difference in these championship runs, and we’re going to definitely need those in the next month,” Johnson said.

After the men’s 100 and women’s 800, Johnson began to reevaluate his approach. Oregon’s lead in the men’s and women’s events had grown comfortable enough, so Johnson switched his plan of attack.

“Once you start to do the math, you start to look out for the health of the kids and not run them more than need be,” he said.

He pulled most of his top runners out of the 4×400 and let the B-team run in their place. The Ducks finished second in the women’s 4×400 and last in the men’s 4×400.

Still, Oregon did what it needed to do to get the win.

“I don’t think it ever gets old,” Johnson said. “To see the kids there and see their faces, for a lot of them, this is their first time running at Hayward Field. It’s just special. Special all around.”

Oregon’s King sweeps sprints but happier with team’s success

By RJ Chavez

Oregon sprinter Kyree King’s main goal at the Pac-12 championships Sunday was to contribute to the team’s success. The individual part of the day was just a plus.

King helped the team by becoming the second man in Oregon’s history to sweep the sprints at a conference championship; Roscoe Cook won the 100-yard dash and the 220-yard dash in 1959. An Oregon man hadn’t won the 100 meters at a conference championship since 1932.

By earning points as part of the men’s victorious 4×100 meter relay, and 10 points each for the first-place finishes in the 100 and 200, King achieved what he wanted in Sunday’s finale and that was an 11th straight Pac-12 title for the Oregon men’s track and field team, a first for the transfer from Western Kentucky to be a part of. And King was also named the male athlete of the meet.

“Great debut by that guy, unbelievable,” said Oregon head coach Robert Johnson. “He’s been doing really well leading into this, and then to put it all together and run those races there… it’s definitely special.”

King won the 100 with a wind-aided time of 10.09 seconds, and an hour later ran a wind-aided time of 20.27 in the 200. Both were personal bests. (more…)

Benjamin wins men’s 400 hurdles in photo-finish upset

By Abigail Winn

If last season was not enough of a fairytale ending, the magic has stuck with UCLA sophomore Rai Benjamin through this season.

Benjamin won the Pac-12 title in the men’s 400-meter hurdles Sunday with a new personal best of 49.52 seconds, a finish so close it was officially determined by photo, beating defending Pac-12 champion CJ Allen of Washington State University by 0.02 seconds.

Benjamin’s win was big for him. Last year he broke his foot in his first collegiate track meet, preventing him from running at all until the Pac-12s, where he ran his first 400-meter hurdles event. He qualified for regionals from there and made it to the NCAAs, where he placed sixth.

He said this year has been better than last. “My training is a lot better,” he said. “I have more time on the track. There’s a lot more I have to do technically during my race, just coming home. I just have to get that part structured and down. I’m just happy I came out here and had a huge PR.”

Taking second didn’t seem to faze Allen, who also hit a new personal best with his time of 49.54. “I felt like it was a strong finish,” he said. “I’m always a little bummed, I mean I got second, but I put everything I had on the track.”

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Oregon Men Win 11th Straight Pac-12 Championship

By: Maggie Vanoni

The sunny Sunday afternoon at Hayward could not have gone better for the University of Oregon men’s track and field team as it won its 11th straight Pac-12 Championship.

The Ducks earned 106 points Sunday for a total of 175 during the two days of the meet. Second place went to USC, which scored 115.5. It was their second largest margin of victory during their run of championships.

“Just an average day at the office,” joked UO head track and field coach Robert Johnson. “I was super surprised at the margins. My form chart originally had us [the men’s team] losing by 12. Under no circumstances did I expect this gap.”

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USC SWEEPS MEN’S AND WOMEN’S 4×400 RELAYS

By Sierra Webster

USC’s men’s 4×400 relay team came into the Pac-12 championships with the fastest seed time and was projected to take home the title, but the women’s team was projected to be a close second behind Oregon.

However, both USC 4×4 teams took the Pac-12 title in the final events of the championships Sunday at Hayward Field.

USC freshman Michael Norman and juniors Ricky Morgan Jr., Marquis Morris and Alexander Rohani finished in 3 minutes, 7.65 seconds, while the women’s team finished in 3: 29.52.

Norman, the relay team’s only freshman, took the title in the men’s 400-meter dash earlier on Sunday before running the final leg in the 4×4, securing a second title for the Trojans. (more…)

Colorado’s Harris and Oregon’s Rogers take home Pac-12 titles in 800

By: Maggie Vanoni

Colorado senior Nick Harris came off the finish line with an open mouth in utter surprise as he took home one of the team’s only five individual Pac-12 titles in the 800-meter race with a season best time of 1 minute, 48.77 seconds.

“It went out really fast and I tried to lay off the pace because I knew then it was going to be quick,” said Harris. “When I was in the position at the 150, I just laid it all out there and ran for the line with my life.”

Harris stayed in the front of the pack for the majority of the race, battling with Saturday’s preliminary winner, Washington State’s Matthew Swanson until Harris outkicked the group in the last 50 meters. Swanson finished fifth with a time of 1:50.10.

Harris placed third in the event last year. This year he came with the mentality of knowing that he could win the title.

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COLORADO’S JONES CAPTURES CONFERENCE TITLE IN FIRST 5,000-METER RACE

By Linden Moore

Dani Jones had never run the 5,000 meters on the track. But the sophomore from Colorado entered Sunday’s 5,000 at the Pac-12 championships after she received encouragement from her coaches coming off her 4 minutes, 22.09 seconds in her 1,500-meter title earlier in the day.

“The coaches said, ‘We’re going to try it and just do the best you can,’” Jones said.

Jones rose to the occasion, as she powered to the finish in 16:12.76, beating Washington’s Amy-Eloise Neale by 0.02 to claim her second conference title of the day.

“I’ve never run a (5000) in general so I was nervous about it, especially after the (1500), but it was taking one race at a time,” Jones said. “Just four points was my goal.”

Jones would have received four points for fifth place, which she surpassed by a lot.

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Ashtyn Davis wins Pac-12 men’s 110-meter hurdles

By Abigail Winn

Christine Cohen had an extra-special Mother’s Day this year: she got to watch her son Ashtyn Davis of Cal win the Pac-12 title in the men’s 110-meter hurdles. “I was ecstatic for him,” she said. “He’s worked hard, and he’s continued to improve and he’s competitive.”

Davis won his qualifying heat with a time 13.65, and won the final with a time of 13.50. He was the runner-up at last year’s Pac-12 championships with a time of 14.07 behind Oregon star Devon Allen, who went on to compete in the Olympics. “Thanks to Devon for going pro and giving the rest of us a shot at winning this one,” he said, laughing.

The event was one to watch. During the race, USC favorite Marquis Morris fell in the early hurdles and Davis eventually out-sprinted Oregon freshman Braxton Canady for the win. He said he didn’t see Morris fall.

“I did not even notice until I looked up to see my time and he was still completing the race,” he said.

He did, however, have a feeling that he had won the race. He didn’t notice anyone in his periphery.

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USC freshman Michael Norman sets PR in 400-meter victory

By Kim Holm

USC freshman Michael Norman won the 400-meter dash, beating Oregon senior Marcus Chambers by .04 second on Sunday at the 2017 Pac-12 championships.

Both runners set personal records. Norman finished in 45.15; Chambers finished in 45.19.

“I really had to dig down deep,” said Norman. “He is a great competitor … I just had to stick to my form, and open up to finish strong—hopefully I would get there in time.”

As a freshman, this is Norman’s first Pac-12 championship meet, and has had to deal with the transition between high school and college.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” said Norman. “I had a great routine in high school that worked for high school, but I had to make adjustments as I went.”

(more…)

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