Ducks Fly South for Pac-12 Track & Field Championships

The rainy clouds of winter have given way to bright blue skies and seventy degree weather.  Spring is in full bloom, which can only mean one thing for Track Town USA — no, not the sudden influx of allergies, but rather track & field post season competition.

De'Anthony Thomas winning the 4x100 Meter Relay during the Oregon Preview.

2013, Gary Breedlove

De’Anthony Thomas anchors the winning 4×100 Meter Relay during the Oregon Preview.

The championship season started last weekend at USC.  While the majority of the team was either resting, receiving a recognition ceremony, or running in the Oregon Twilight, Freshman Blake Kempe and Sophomore Dakotah Keys were in Los Angeles representing the Ducks in the Pac-12 Heptathlon / Decathlon. Although stuck in third through eight events, Keys pulled out his second straight Pac-12 Decathlon title with 8,001 points, launching  the Ducks’ men’s PAC-12 title quest.  Both squads now head to L.A. this weekend for two days of tough competition.

English Gardner finishing just behind Texas A&M's Ashton Purvis during the Pepsi Team Invitational.

2013, Gary Breedlove

English Gardner finishes just behind Texas A&M’s Ashton Purvis during the Pepsi Team Invitational.

Currently, the men’s team ranks 4th nationally, with the only other Pac-12 teams in the USTFCCCA Top 25 being USC (8th) and UCLA (15th).  The women rank 7th nationally, while UCLA remains at 13th, Stanford 14th, and USC 19th.  However, going into this weekend, the Ducks have momentum in their favor; much needed rest, the planned return of De’Anthony Thomas to the 4×100 relay, and of course a group of elite runners such as English Gardner, who ran the fastest 100 meters in the world this season at the Mt. SAC Relays.   Anything can happen during these competitions, but given their level of dominance, our group of Olympic caliber athletes have to be the favorites to bring home two Pac-12 Championships this weekend.

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