Pepsi Team Invitational

Camp wins 1,500, but Oregon women satisfied with their efforts

By August Howell

Jessica Hull and the rest of the Oregon track and field team looked at the clear blue sky in Eugene late Saturday morning and crossed their fingers, hoping the conditions would stay pleasant for their races.

It did not last.

A steady rain poured for most of the meet, soaking athletes, officials and fans alike. Pieces of the east grandstand roof began to fall off in winds of 20 mph with gusts to 49 mph, but the 2018 Pepsi Team Invitational continued throughout the day at Hayward Field.

“It didn’t matter where you were in the pack, it didn’t matter who was leading,” said Hull. “Wherever you went you were going to feel a headwind down the homestretch. … It was definitely a factor for everyone.”

Anna Camp, a sophomore from Brigham Young University, outkicked a talented field in the homestretch to win the women’s 1,500 meters in 4 minutes, 23.88 seconds. This was Camp’s first race since setting a personal best of 4:21 at the Stanford Invitational a week ago.  “It felt really good — it played out exactly how I hoped it would,” Camp said. “I was happy with the time.”

The athletes consisted of multiple All-Americans from cross country and track, as well as a freshman from Serbia who had not run a 1,500 before. Hull led the pack from the starting gun, with teammate Lilli Burdon right beside for most of the race.  Camp made sure to stay in the lead group the whole way, never allowing Hull and Burdon to get too far ahead.

This season, Camp ran the fastest 800 meters (2:07.27), and mile (4:44.13) for BYU. For this race, she made sure to trust her coach’s advice. Most the of runners began kicking with 300 meters left to go, but Camp was prepared to go sooner.  “I actually was thinking of going with around 350 to go, but then I heard my coach say ‘Wait, wait!’” Camp said, laughing. “So I stayed there, and just before the 100 I started to go.”

That final 100-meter stretch featured Washington senior Amy Eloise-Neale, the runner-up at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Eloise-Neale finished second Saturday in 4:24.47 in her first race since the 3,000 meter at the indoor NCAA championships, where she placed 12th.

The wind and rain challenged more than a few competitors during the race. Burdon, a junior from Australia, finished third in 4:24.60. Burdon also raced the 800 meters two hours later, and she said her goal for the meet was to use it as a training day.  “I was a bit boxed in, so I didn’t race super tactically,” she said. “I just wanted to have a good practice with racing while being tired.”

Hull ran 4:26.31, good for fourth place.  Though neither Hull nor Burdon won their races, their results did count for the team scores in the win for the Oregon women.

“It’s OK if it’s not perfect — it’s all a building process,” Hull said. “It’s a long outdoor season.”

 

 

 

Colby Gilbert Holds Off James West in 1,500 Meters

By Jake Willard

Coming around the final curve with the lead, Washington’s Colby Gilbert quickly figured out he had a Duck on his tail. As the fans of Hayward Field roared for their home athlete, Gilbert responded with a move on the field: “I was like, ‘Oh, no. This isn’t my crowd. They’re not cheering for me.’”

Oregon’s James West was right on Gilbert’s heels until  strong gust of wind knocked him wide into Lane Two on the final straightaway. “At 200 I kind of thought I might get him,” West said.“The wind hit us both and we both slowed. Then he went again. He’s a good athlete.”

The Husky ultimately held off the Duck at the line in the men’s 1,500-meter run Saturday at the Pepsi Invitational. Gilbert took the victory with his time of 3 minutes, 48.64 seconds. West finished just 0.28 seconds behind.

While the conditions in Eugene were not ideal on Saturday, race strategy became an important factor for Gilbert. A tailwind on the back stretch provided the best opportunities for the indoor national’s qualifier to execute his race plan. “It wasn’t too bad over there, so I went and made my moves for positioning to get where I wanted to be,” he said. The winner was happy with how the race plan worked out.

Even though he finished in second, this race was a special one for West, who made his Hayward Field debut. Battling Gilbert to the line, he couldn’t help but hear the passionate track fans welcome him to Oregon. “It was really loud,” he said. “It was great to run here today, and the crowd was amazing down the home straight.”

Both Gilbert and West were pleased with their finishes and are looking forward to races coming up later this season. Gilbert wants to get his 5,000-meter NCAA outdoor qualifying mark as early as possible and plans to focus his energy on that, while West has his mind set on the Bryan Clay Invitational on April 19-20.

Oregon’s Briyahna DesRosiers wins 400 in convincing fashion

By Mark Wang

Briyahna DesRosiers went out well and led just about wire to wire, winning the women’s 400 meters at the Pepsi invitational Saturday afternoon at Hayward Field in a time of 54.02. But she was unsatisfied.  

DesRosiers, a transfer student from Texas A&M representing the Ducks on the track for the first time, called the race “icky” and said she knew she could have done better.  She was pleased how she was able to get out and run well, but said she wished she had been able to finish better. On a 10-point scale, she rated it a six and said if conditions had been better, she would have run faster. 

Conditions on the track were not ideal as it had been raining during much of the day, and even though the rain had died down the wind was still blowing at 20 mph, making the race difficult. Some gusts were as hard as 49 mph.

“You have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” she said when asked how to prepare to run in conditions like those.

She added that the weather was to be expected since Oregon is known for its weather.  DesRosiers said that it had been nearly five or six years since she had run in weather like that, so it was like starting over again. 

The race for second through fourth in this race was very tight with a .65 differential between the athletes.  DesRosiers won in convincing fashion, however, beating Stephanie Cho of Washington State by over two seconds. 

The competition for the team title at the meet however was not so tight as Oregon won the meet with a total of 185 points. BYU and Washington State tied for second with 152  and Washington had 112.  

DesRosiers said that there weren’t home meets at Texas A&M because the new track stadium has been getting built.  She said it was nice to see Oregon alumni and everyone out watching, adding that it was a very homey feeling.

DesRosiers said that the next time she will be racing will be at the Mt. Sac Relays.  This meet runs from April 19-21 in Torrence, California. 

Oregon freshman Rieker Daniel wins his first collegiate 200-meter race

By Jason Casey

Oregon freshman Rieker Daniel won his first 200-meter college race Saturday at Hayward Field in Pepsi Team Invitational in a wind-aided personal best 21.02 seconds, beating BYU’s Derek Sorensen by .05 seconds.

Kemuel Santana from Washington ran 21.39 and Myles Webb from Oregon finished in a time of 21.46 to round out the top four.

“I didn’t know what to expect, honestly, in this weather,” said Daniel. “I was happy I PR’d — it felt good. I just wanted to execute my race. It was fun to run at home.”

This is the second 200 in a row that Daniel has run a personal record. At the Aztec Invitational in March, he ran 21.35 seconds and finished third.

“I just feel the coaching is a whole lot better,” he said. “I know more what to do. In high school coaches were good, but nothing compares to here. I feel like I gained a lot more knowledge about how to run well. My form is a lot better — I’m really working on my form for the 200. In high school, I was just kind of running.”

Daniel was the 2017 6A Oregon champion in the 200 and finished second in the 100 meters for Oregon City High School.

“I’m from Oregon, so that helps a little,” said Daniel. “A lot of my teammates are from California. Everyone else is competing in it, so no excuses. It helps that we are here and live here, so that might be a little bit of an advantage. Nothing can prepare you for it except for practicing in it.”

Daniel also finished third in the 100 meters. Not a bad day for a kid from Boring, Oregon.

Stone’s 4×400 Relay Helps to cap a Successful Meet for Oregon

By Brenten Kelly

Oregon junior sprinter Cameron Stone, placed second in the 4×400-meter relay Saturday while challenging himself earlier in the 800 meters earlier in the Pepsi Team Invitational at Hayward Field.

“In the 4×4, I just wanted to go out there and give everything I have,” Stone said. “It was my first 400 of the year — I was happy and felt good. We have been training really hard. We really trust the training staff that things would go well.”

Stone’s relay team included Jonathan Harvey, Orwin Emilien and Mick Stanovsek. Oregon ran 3 minutes, 13.78 seconds and placed second behind Washington, which won in 3:13.31.

But Stone did not start off the day well, finishing ninth out of 10 runners in the 800 meters. His teammates Stanovsek and Sam Prakel placed second and third.

“It was a rough day — the 800 was rough, I don’t know what happened,” Stone said. “We have been training really hard, though. Conditions were rough, but it was a fun, different event. Got to run with Sam and Mick, so that was cool.”

The weather conditions were not ideal, 20 mph winds and rain throughout the meet. But Stone said the training staff prepared them regardless of the weather.

“It’s Oregon — we’ve been training in this weather pretty much all year,” he said. “It’s nothing new. Coach told us just to come out here and do what we have been training to do.”

Asked about the benefit of running the 800 before a 4×400, Stone said, “I just look at running the 4×4 after the 800 as training, just to go out there have fun with it and do your best.”

 

Practice didn’t quite prepare BYU hurdler Max Scheible, but he made it work

By Melissa Ingabire

Brigham Young University hurdler Max Scheible said he treats every race like a practice race, but nothing in practice really prepared him for the conditions at the 2018 Pepsi Team Invitational. 

However, Scheible weathered the weather and finished second in the 400-meter hurdles in 53.29 seconds, .04 beyond the winner, his teammate Scott Mecham.

“You gotta be optimistic, right?” he said. “In Utah sometimes we have crazy weather — I think two weeks ago we had snow during practice. It just started snowing really big flakes, but not quite this crazy.”

The weather in Eugene proved to be one of the biggest obstacles for the athletes, with a nonstop downpour of rain and up 49 mph gusts of wind at Hayward Field. “Coming home on the back straight with three-to-four meters per second of wind is just not what we’re used to,” Scheible said. “I don’t think anybody can get used to that.”

When asked how he adjusts to such unpredictable conditions, he said: “You just run. Just try to hit your stride right and try to hit the hurdles. Just remember it’s just another practice race, basically.”

With BYU taking first and second in the 400-meter hurdles, Scheible said he was overall happy with his performance considering the conditions. “It was good — went out pretty fast, the first hurdle was great. I know I could have pushed a little more with the wind. But it was a good race.”

Looking toward the future, the hurdler is taking what he learned from this experience back home with him to Utah.

“ I think we have two BYU meets that are coming up, so I’ll be running at home and it’s always nice to run on your home turf,” said Scheible.

The senior came in just three seconds shy of his PR and said he hopes to beat that PR back on his home turf later this month. Hopefully with better weather.

BYU’s Derek Sorensen sets PR in 200

By Chiann Nobrega

What BYU sophomore Derek Sorensen calls “positive psychology” has helped him prepare and execute his track events.

Saturday at the Pepsi Invitational, with heavy rain and wind sweeping through Hayward Field, adjusting to the conditions was a necessary action for Sorensen, especially since it was his first meet since high school in heavy rain.

“I really try to tell myself that I can run faster in the rain if need be,” Sorensen said.

This mental preparation and having a good attitude has worked so far, he believes. He described his personal approach as “knowing that everyone else is going to be running in the rain” and not counting himself out.

Sorensen finished second in the 200 meters at the Pepsi Team Invitational with a time of 21.07. This time topped his personal best of 21.11, which he acquired at the 2017 BYU Cougar Invitational.

Sorensen said he has “stuff”  to build on but overall the race went well. He worked around the weather and coped with the torrential rainfall.  He was also excited to run at Hayward field because he is there for the experience. This was Sorensen’s second 200 of the season, and he is only getting started.

Sorensen’s coaches wanted him to focus on the race itself and to go out to win and compete. Although this was a team event, Sorensen said he was definitely looking at his individual times and checking his marks. This will help him prepare for NCAA West regionals, which he believes he can qualify for.

Sorensen’s future includes the Mark Faldmo Invite at Utah State University next week, but more specifically “a long massage,” which he might have to fight the rest of his team for.

Brenna Porter Shines in 400 hurdles at Hayward Field Debut

By Allan Johnstone

Brenna Porter, a junior hurdler from Brigham Young University, lined up for the first time ever Saturday at Hayward Field for the Pepsi Team Invitational. Her event was the women’s 400-meter hurdles, but for her it was about more than just the event.

“It was super fun just because I have always dreamed of running on Hayward Field,” said an out-of-breath Porter. “Ever since I was a freshman in high school, it has been a goal.”

The conditions at Hayward Field weren’t ideal: There was a heavy flow of rain throughout the afternoon and gusts of wind up to 49 mph. But that wasn’t going to put a damper on Porter’s mood.

“We expected it to be crazy,” she said. “But I’m from Logan, Utah … so it was fine.”

Porter started in Lane One and had a solid start that allowed her to feel comfortable.

“It was nice having the tailwind from the get-go because then you could get out strong and keep to your stepping pattern,” she said. “I knew I wasn’t going to set a PR, but it was just fun to come out and compete.”

Porter said the wind didn’t mess with her stepping pattern.

“Usually I make it to the seventh hurdle — then I have to switch,” she said. “So it was right when the wind hit that I had to switch anyways.” But she added: “When you come around the home stretch, you can definitely feel that wall.”

Porter was able to finish strong down the home stretch and clinch first place with a time of 58.83 seconds, .ahead of Hanna Tarleton from Washington, who finished in 59.55.

Porter has plans to make a return trip to Hayward Field, which will host the NCAA championships June 6-9.

“I’ve never qualified for nationals, so that’s the next goal,” she said. “Keeping working, keep improving myself so maybe I can get here in a few months.”

Welcome to outdoor season: Hull endures 800 meters in rain and wind

By Julia Lobaina

Before the women’s 800-meter race began, Jessica Hull and her Oregon teammates were reminded by assistant coach Maurica Powell to focus on the fact that the day would be all about hard efforts. Due to weather conditions, April rains and 20 mph winds with gusts up to 49 mph, the focus was not on getting the shiny new PR time.

Hull finished the race in second place in 2 minutes, 10.66 seconds, just three seconds away from her personal best of 2:07.36 . She finished the race right .4 seconds behind the winner, Oregon teammate Susan Ejore.

Since moving across the globe from the Golden Coast of Australia to Eugene, Hull has had to adjust her ways of training and pre-race rituals. As the winds swept through Hayward Field, Hull focused on rolling with the conditions and not allowing the winds to disrupt her mindset, especially the headwind down the homestretch. Although the weather was not in the runner’s favor, it was still a reminder, particularly for Hull, that it’s not always going to be perfect out on the track.

“It’s pretty crazy out there,” Hull said. “But I think it was a good way to reset and reintroduce outdoor because the weather doesn’t impact our indoor times.”

Even though the conditions hindered the athletes’ abilities to perform at the highest level, Hull believes these drastic changes help improve the process of preparation.

“When we get conditions like today, you have to be prepared for everything because everyone on the line is, so you better be as well,” she said.

 

BYU sophomore Olivia Hoj’s First Steeplechase Ends in Victory

By Alex Castle 

With a mixture of rain and sweat running down her face, BYU sophomore Olivia Hoj overcame walls of wind for a victory in her first career 3,000-meter steeplechase at Saturday’s Pepsi Team Invitational.

Hoj’s time of 10 minutes, 35.93 seconds was nearly three seconds ahead of Washington’s Emily Hamlin’s second-place time of 10:38.59 seconds. And though Hoj has run the 3,000-meter distance previously, the weather proved to be as much an obstacle as any that could be placed around Hayward Field.

“We’re wet anyways, so I guess the water jump wasn’t too bad,” said Washington State’s Devon Bortfeld, who finished third, laughing.

The race, which featured five participants, remained close for the first 2,000 meters with Hoj and her teammate Madelyn Brooks leading the way. But entering the final third of the race, another first-time steeplechase runner, Hamlin, made her move.

“She was brave and busted it open,” Bortfeld said. “I think that’s when we all knew we had to get it going.”

Hamlin held the lead for the next few laps, challenging her competitors to keep pace in the midst of a “torrential downpour and vortex of wind,” as Bortfeld described it. With wind and rain battering each runner’s face entering the track’s final curve, finding ways to forget about the conditions around them was all they could do.

“I like to just keep my eyes up on the girl in front of me and focus on my form,” Bortfeld said. “I try and ignore the emotional turmoil that’s going on. Keep it nice and simple.”

As Hamlin tried to build separation, Hoj and Bortfeld gave chase as the race grew more and more difficult.

“It got pretty mentally tough at the end,” Bortfeld said. “That lap counter helped. We kind of partitioned the race into ‘How many of those 100-meter blistering stretches do we have to do?’”

Approaching the counter with just one lap to go, Hoj grabbed the lead from Hamlin and didn’t relinquish it, fighting through the remaining “blistering stretch.” Crossing five seconds later was Bortfeld, with Oregon’s Judy Pendergast finishing fourth and Brooks in last.

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