This year’s Oregon Relays/Arkansas Dual was simply, “Wow.” Our men’s Track & Field team was ranked #4 nationally going into the meet, while Arkansas was #2. Both teams had beaten top-ranked Texas A&M earlier. So it was a dual of epic proportions, and a probable preview of the NCAA Championship meet.
In the race for the magic 82 points needed to win, Arkansas beat us, 86-77. But, as Elijah Greer, who achieved the year’s fastest college time at 800 meters Saturday, stated after the meet, “Even to the last few meters, it was still anyone’s battle.” So although the outcome was unfavorable, let’s focus on the positives.
Notice how close and exciting this meet really was. After 18 events, Arkansas led 81-77, leaving the last five points and the win up for grabs in the 4×400 meter relay. During the thrilling anchor leg, Oregon’s Mike Berry and Arkansas’ Akheen Gauntlett were neck and neck until Gauntlett inched ahead at the end, crossing the line at 3:07.14, winning by 25 hundredths of a second.
Many Oregon runners were, as Greer put it, “Not at their best.” Mike Berry, who told us that his muscles were tightening up after multiple closely scheduled competitions and that he was “throwing up a lot” that morning due to a stomach problem. If I were throwing up, I’d have a tough time getting out of bed, let alone nearly winning a race against a premier runner.
So we lost. But man did our guys put up one hell of a fight to barely lose to the #2 team nationally, while many of our athletes were not at their best. Imagine what they’ll do when they’re sharp, rested, and on their toes come the NCAA Championships. Our Ducks can certainly reserve a cool confidence as June approaches.