“So it begins” King Theoden ominously murmured as the Uruks of Isengard descended upon Rohan. This Wednesday another battle, though not so mythological, takes place at Hayward Field as the top collegiate athletes from around the country flock to Eugene for the NCAA National Championship meet. Just like in Lord of the Rings, many captivating story lines unfold this weekend. One of the most intriguing is the battle for gold between the women’s squads of #3 Oregon, and #1 Kansas.
Despite having only 13 women entries for the meet, Kansas has the advantage, with all of their competitors ranked in the top nine in their events, with seven in the top five. Our lady Ducks have their best chance to upset the Jayhawks by cleaning up in the running events with top-ranked 100 meter sprinter English Gardner doubling back in the 200, Phyllis Francis in the 400, #2 Laura Roesler in the 800 and Jordan Hasay in the 5,000 meters.
These two teams already have some history. They fought over the Indoor Track & Field national title in March, with Oregon prevailing in a hotly-contested battle. All signs point to this weekend’s match being every bit as tight, where a single point gained or lost has the potential to decide the meet.
If the Oregon women pull off the win, they will be the first women’s squad to take home NCAA team gold in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track in a single school year. The Ducks’ quest for history is just one of many story lines to follow as the Championships get underway on Wednesday.