OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA teammate lost way too young was the motivation behind Oregon’s dominating win over Concordia of Wisconsin Saturday evening at Matthew Knight Arena. Tuesday’s stunning and tragic loss of freshman Lauren Jones cast an unavoidable shadow over the first home meet of the season, but head coach Chelsea Shaw set about to make sure the competition was held in celebration of their lost friend and teammate.

“I’m just so proud of my kids for getting through the meet,” said Shaw. “We asked them, ‘Do you even want to compete this weekend, after everything that happened? And can you compete? And they every one of them said yes, without hesitation — ‘We want to do it for Lauren.'”

In their first season fielding a team, Concordia was over matched from the start with Oregon outpointing the Falcons in every event and eventually posting a 275.490 to 239.815 final margin.

“It wasn’t our best performance … by any means, we have a lot to fix … but I’m just really proud for the week that they’ve had, everything they’ve gone through for getting through the meet and doing it pretty strongly … This whole thing was about honoring Lauren and that’s exactly what we wanted to do.”

“It was challenging at first,” said Oregon’s Sydnee Walton who wore Jones’ #51 jersey to commemorate her friend. “ … She was really what motivated and kept us high spirited and gave us our energy.”

In the wake of an emotional week, the Ducks have 10 days before returning to action at Quinnipiac on March 1st. The Ducks return home to face Baylor at 6:30 pm Thursday, March 12th.

A GoFundMe campaign is underway to accept contributions to help defray the costs of Jones’ funeral.

~ Rick Morgan