In what’s become a routine occurrence, the Duck men and women easily swept aside the competition at the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships in Seattle this past weekend. For the men, it was the 10th consecutive win, while the women notched their 8th consecutive title while “taking a knee” and not even contesting the final event of the meet, the 4 x 400 relay.
Many conference schools peak their athletes for the conference meet; what’s most remarkable about Duck conference dominance is that the Ducks simply use the conference championship meet as a springboard for the big prize that awaits in June when the NCAA Championships come to town. The Ducks essentially compete almost a month short of their peak – which is a lifetime in track and field.
Rather than recap performance results, which are available elsewhere, it should be noted that the Ducks did not field their strongest athletes in each event.
Along with the women’s aforementioned “knee” in the 4 x 400 relay, Edward Cheserek, who arguably could have swept the 1500 through the 10,000, competed only in the 10K, mainly to assure himself of a Regionals qualifying mark. The men ran far from their best 4 x 400 squad, choosing to not chase a mark necessary to make it into the Regionals.
The next test for the Ducks will be the West Regionals in Lawrence, KS, which take place May 26-28. From a fan’s perspective, Regional meets tend to be a real snooze, the idea being that athletes do only what it takes to make the final 12 in most events, which then assures entry into the NCAA Championships.
The coaching staff will be busy in the upcoming week as they choose which athletes will compete in which Regional events. These decisions will be made with an eye on the National Championship schedule, the idea being to maximize team points by not using athletes in multiple events in which they might have qualified for Nationals, but have little chance of scoring.
For example, not attempting to qualify a men’s 4 x 400 team means that athletes such as Devon Allen (110 hurdles), Marcus Chambers (400 meters) and Ben Thiel (400 hurdles) can put all their energy into their individual events rather than chase what would optimistically be a single point or two in the relay.
My best guess is that Cheserek will compete in both the 5 and 10K meters, Allen will compete only in the short hurdles (and in the 4 x 100 should the Ducks qualify in Regionals).
Jasmine Todd and Sasha Wallace, for the women, will forego the jumps and compete only in their specialty races, as well as the 4 x 100 relay. The women’s decisions are a bit trickier, since Todd finished 4th in last year’s NCAA long jump and Wallace has the potential to score in the triple jump. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them both entered in the jumps at Regionals, with the final entry decisions to be made prior to the Championship meet.
It should be noted that athletes are required to give an honest effort in all events in which they are entered at NCAAs, thus keeping teams from entering unenthusiastic individuals who might block opponents from entering/scoring. While the rule is rarely enforced, the penalty is loss of all points accumulated during the meet.
While it’s a bit early to clear space in the trophy cases, both the women and men of Oregon are favorites on some form charts to sweep the NCAAs for the second consecutive year. Final form charts won’t be available until after the Regional meets.
Top Photo from Pac-12 Video
Let’s enjoy the short Pac-12 videos of an amazing sweep!