Cheserek, Ducks Sweep Dellinger Meet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

courtesy goDucks.com –

EUGENE, Ore. – Edward Cheserek won for the ninth time in the last 10 races to lead the Oregon cross country teams to a sweep of the season-opening Bill Dellinger Invitational on a warm Friday evening on Pre’s Trail at Alton Baker Park.

The No. 6 Men of Oregon won with 15 points, followed by Gonzaga with 46 and Portland State with 85. On the women’s side, the sixth-ranked Ducks won with 23 points. Gonzaga scored 35 and PSU had 78.

How It Happened – Men: Oregon dominated from the outset with as many as 10 Ducks running in a large lead pack for most of the race. Paced by Cheserek, Oregon’s top five moved to the lead on the final lap and finished first through fifth for a perfect 15 point score. Finishing within a second of Chererek were Sam Prakel (24:26.0), Travis Neuman (24:26.1), Matthew Melancon (24:26.2) and Jake Leingang (24:26.3). The Ducks also had Chris Brewer in eighth (25:20.9) and Bryan Fernandez ninth (25:21.1).

How It Happened – Women: Oregon and Gonzaga waged a back-and-forth battle throughout most of the race before Oregon used its considerable depth to put the race away. It was the first career win for Cash, a sophomore from Lenexa, Kan., who crossed the line in 20:27.5. Senior Waverly Neer continued right where she left off from her all-America performance at the NCAA Outdoor meet with a runner-up showing in 20:29.5. Sophomore Frida Berge was the third UO runner across the line, finishing fifth in 20:39.6. Duck newcomer Emma Abrahamson and junior Ashley Maton locked up the victory for the Ducks by coming in seventh and eighth, respectively. Abrahamson, a sophomore transfer from Vanderbilt finished her first race as a Duck in 21:01.5, with Maton at 21:14.9.

What It Means: While more of a race to shake out the cobwebs than anything else, the Ducks proved they are certainly deserving of their No. 6 national rankings for both teams. The Ducks also showed tremendous depth with a tight :01 spread among the top five men’s runners, and Cash and Neer taking the reins in the women’s race with veterans Molly Grabill, Annie Leblanc and Maggie Schmaedick sitting out the opener.

Odds and Ends: One of the more encouraging sights on Friday was redshirt freshman Sarah Baxter making her debut in an Oregon uniform. One of the top distance recruits of the class of 2014 finished 10th overall in 21:37.7, but her time was irrelevant as she works to get back to full speed following an injury that has kept her from running for much of the last two years…In 13 career cross country starts, Cheserek has now won 13 times. He has never finished lower than fourth in a cross country race…It was an encouraging season opener for Leingang who struggled last year as a sophomore with no finishes better than 24th…The meet began with a moment of silence in honor of the 14th anniversary of 9/11.

What’s Next: Fall training camp in Sunriver, Ore., followed by the Washington Invitational, Oct. 2, Seattle, Wash.

Quoteworthy: “Alli Cash has been on the cusp of being pretty good here. She made the NCAA meet as a freshman, and she made it again last year. She is getting better and really she is right there, so it was good to see her take a really positive step in the right direction,” said Oregon assistant coach Maurica Powell.

“For those guys to pack it up and run together, that was really kind of the main objective. We weren’t quite able to do that last year and spread out a little bit. If they already have that figured out now, it’s going to make my job a lot easier,” said associate head coach Andy Powell.