There’s no “wait ’til next year” about it. The Oregon cross country teams stand ready to challenge for NCAA championships. While the men still boast the best-ever collegiate distance runner in Edward Cheserek, they did not reach the top of the team podium last season.
That being said, members of the team did help the track and field Ducks sweep the 2016 Indoor Championships – for both men and women. And both teams are primed to take their craft outdoors this fall.
This is a power program. Current and former Ducks competed and medaled in the Rio Olympics. As The Washington Post proclaimed, Oregon had a historic presence at those Olympic games.
Both the women and men have added experienced and youthful runners, but we’ll save an in-depth look at the men for another day.
The women feature two in-state freshmen recruits. Both were fierce competitors at the state level in cross country and track and field. The Ducks also gain from the experience of Georgetown transfer, Samantha Nadel.
Nadel will redshirt this season, but her previous accomplishments mark her as someone to watch in 2017. She helped the Hoyas to a No. 3 ranking before the Big East conference championships her sophomore year, according to RunnersWorld. While she has backed solid teams in cross country for Georgetown, her on-the-track accomplishments cannot be overlooked.
In 2015, Nadel won the 3000 meter Big East indoor championship. She wasn’t done at that meet, though. She also ran a leg on the Distance Medley Relay team. Earlier this September at the Bill Dellinger Invitational, she ran her first race in a UO singlet, placing sixth with a time of 17:36 for the famous 6K race.
In a post-race interview with FloTrack.com, she claimed she “definitely want[s] to be faster than that.” Even though she was fatigued, she said she knew, “… from all the training we’ve been doing at camp, I wasn’t going to race this race fresh.” She still managed quite a strong run. She’s a workhorse, and will most likely earn more all-American honors once she finally starts racing for the Ducks.
Perrin Xthona, one of the two freshmen, is from Yamhill-Carlton High School. She looks like an all around stud. She won the 1500 and 3000 in the Oregon 4A State Championships at the end of her senior year (4:43 and 10:23, respectively).
Upon winning these state races, Xthona said to The News Register, “I’m very proud to have medaled in both my events at state this year. I feel like I have done everything for this program.”
Xthona probably won’t have to do everything for the Oregon program this year, but it’s great to see a runner commit herself entirely to her craft. She was also third at the 4A state meet the previous cross country season.
The other freshman woman joining the cross country squad is Rennie Kendrick, out of Portland’s Grant High School. This year at the Portland Track Festival, she ran a 4:34 1500, faster than her new teammate Xthona.
Like Xthona, Kendrick has the ability to adapt to different race lengths. She was a part in the 6A 4×400 championship team and can also run a 3000 very well (10:27 personal best).
Aside from her running ability, Kendrick has received the Stamps Scholarship Award, one of the most prestigious awards given to students at Oregon. She got this scholarship because of her volunteer activities with the Oregon Humane Society and being involved with experiments at the Oregon Health & Science University. For more information on her great community service, look to the University Website.
The UO women are ranked fourth nationally in the latest poll, but look for them to move up – and possibly steal the crown – as the season progresses.
Top Photo by Taylor Wilder