The Home Stretch: Can’t Catch These Ducks

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Where other teams go to lose. Hayward Field.

Believe it or not, the Ducks women’s indoor track team is going on its sixth consecutive week as the No. 1 team in the entire country. Believe it, it’s true. This team is so good that this past week they had an “off week” if you can call it that, and dropped in their points total after the Husky Classic. No big deal, they still have a commanding 41 point lead over the No. 2 Clemson Tigers. This pack of runners is insanely good and shows no sign of slowing down.

But running for these women is not just a sport, it’s life. English Gardner, Jordan Hasay, Brianne Theisen, Anne Kesselring, Rebecca Friday and Alex Kosinski can be considered “the heartbeat” of the Runnin’ Ducks. They are not just the “most notable runners” on Oregon’s lineup card; they are leaders, on and off the track.

For the runners mentioned, it’s not about how fast or talented they are that makes them phenomenal. It is about how mentally focused and prepared they are that makes them great competitors and has helped earn the Ducks the top ranking in the NCAA. They show that establishing mental focus at an early age helps build success.

What most people don’t know about these talented athletes are their marks, times, results, and the legacy they have left upon the University of Oregon. It’s okay, hopefully I can help.


English Gardneris a sophomore sprinter from New Jersey. In only her second year she has won awards such as Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year, Pac-10 100 Meter Champion, set the U.S. Junior Record 100 Meter, set the UO record in the 100 meter and is an All-American. Did I mention she is only a sophomore?

This past Friday in Albuquerque, NM was another great performance from Gardner, running the 60-meter in 7.17 seconds winning the event. Gardner’s time is a school record, and no joke. Gardner clocked a 7.20 in the preliminary heats, and a 23.34 while winning the 200. The 200 time is fourth on the college level after the altitude conversion.

Gardner is a human physiology major at Oregon, so if any of the Duck runners were mentally prepared for the high altitude of Albuquerque, it was English Gardner, and she showed that high altitude was no match for her.


Jordan Hasay is a junior middle distance runner for the Ducks. Hasay set age group records as young as 12 (3,000 meters, 9:48.77), became a four-time California 3,200 meter and cross country champion, as well as a six-time American junior champion. Her U.S. high school record of 4:14.50 in the 1,500 meter semifinals on the 4th of July at the 2008 Olympic Trials was one of the enduring moments of those games. As a senior in high school in 2008-09, Hasay became the first four-time California state champion at 3,200 meters, winning in 10:05.29. Most notably for Hasay, as a Cross Country runner for the Ducks she finished as the national runner-up to match the best finish by a Duck woman in school history at the NCAA Championships in 2011-2012. Her awards list at Oregon is extremely long and well deserved:

2-Time NCAA
Champion (Mile-i, 3,000 Meters-i)
NCAA Runner-up (Cross Country)
Honda Award Finalist (Cross Country)
USTFCCCA Indoor Track Athlete of the Year
Pac-10 Athlete of the Year (Cross Country)
Academic All-American of the Year (Track & Field/Cross Country)
Bowerman Award Semifinalist
2-Time NCAA West Champion (Cross Country)
3-Time Pac-10 Champion (1,500 Meters, 5,000 Meters, Cross Country)
Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year (Cross Country)
11-Time All-American
Academic All-America 1st Team
3 School Records (Mile-i, 3,000 Meters-i, Distance Medley Relay-i)

To sit and list all of her incredible times and records would take a lot of writing. For the complete list, visit:

However, running is not the most impressive thing about Jordan Hasay. Her success on the track is exceeded only by her accomplishments in the classroom. Hasay does not only hoist track awards, she also hoists a 4.02 GPA as a business major. How’s that for mental focus? For Hasay, if running in the Olympics does not bring happiness and fulfillment, she could always become the next female Donald Trump without any trouble. Her work on the track and in the classroom show mental preparation at its best, and making Hasay a qualified leader of this group.


Brianne Theisen is a five time NCAA Champion with quite a story. She grew up in Humboldt, Saskatchewan in Canada where she posted an impressive victory as a high school senior in the 2007 Pan-American Junior Championships heptathlon (5,413 points) and leading the field in the high jump, javelin and 800 meters while finishing second in the long jump and ran a PR in the 200 meters (25.025). Theisen also competed for the Canadian National Team in the 2006 World Junior Championships (11th, 5,149) and 2005 World Youth Championships (fourth, 4,805).

As a Duck, Theisen has won two titles in both the heptathlon and indoor pentathlon. She was the 2011 NCAA champ in the pentathlon for the second straight year where, she scored an NCAA record 4,540 points to win.

She was named a Bowerman Award finalist despite missing the entire outdoor season due to a back injury. Despite the injury, Theisen became the first Duck to win back-to-back NCAA heptathlon titles, in 2009-10. Rebecca Theisen returned home again to run for Team Canada at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin after becoming the Canadian national champion in the heptathlon.

Theisen was 2010 Pac-10 athlete of the meet for her 23 combined points, including her second straight heptathlon win, to help the Ducks to their second straight league title. In 2009, the Pac-10 heptathlon champion scored 16.5 points to help Oregon win the league title for the first time since 1992. Go here to see more:

For Theisen a fourth straight NCAA indoor pentathlon title and a third NCAA outdoor heptathlon title are practically foregone conclusions in 2012. She has fairly dominated the multi events at the NCAA Division I level, much like her male predecessor at Oregon, Ashton Eaton, which is ironic because Theisen and Eaton are engaged.

Theisen will have to be mentally prepared as she returns to her native Canada again with some unfinished business. Theisen will face two other Canadian champions when she makes her triumphant return, Jessica Zelinka and Ruky Abdulai.


Anne Kesselring is fresh off her NCAA Championship win in the 800-meter at the Husky Classic on Feb. 11th, which was only the fourth 800-meter championship win in Oregon history. Kesselring is a native of Nermberg, Germany where she is a two-time IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships qualifier (2006, 2008). A four-time German junior champion, she ran a personal-best 2:04.96 in the 800 meters at Hengelo, Netherlands, in 2007, which would easily rank among Oregon’s all-time top 10.

Kesselring also scored in the mile (fourth) and distance medley relay (second) for the Ducks’ NCAA Indoor national champs. An Academic All-America Second Team selection, Pac-10 champion at 800 meters as a freshman, NCAA outdoor scorer in the 800 meters, scorer in both the mile and distance medley relay for Oregon’s 2010 indoor national champions, the 2010 German national runner-up at 1,500 meters.  For more see:

At the Husky Classic Kesselring broke the school record in the mile and was fourth in an exceptionally fast mile that produced the top four collegiate times in the nation this season.


Rebecca Friday Won three straight Washington state 800 meter titles and added a 1,600 meter crown her senior year for Bellingham High School. As a senior, she claimed the 800 championship in 2:12.46 and the 1,600 title in 5:01.87. Friday’s time from the Bill Harris Invite, 2:11.40 was the second-fastest 800 time in Washington in 2009.

Friday broke into Oregon’s top 10 in the 800 as a freshman (2:05.89), after being the three-time Washington state champion at 800 meters. As a Cross Country runner, Friday gutted out a tough run as Oregon’s No. 5 scorer at the NCAA Championships to help the Ducks take fifth place by a point. It was the Ducks’ best finish in three years, while Friday took 145th overall in 21:22.1 (6,000 meters).


Alex Kosinski is a great story. The three-time cross country All-American who has blossomed into a three-time cross country and track All-American and one of the finest middle distance runners in the country going into her senior campaign. An extremely promising 2011 track season was cut short due to injury, but she has come back strong for 2012.

A 2010 NCAA scorer at 5,000 meters, Kosinski led Oregon with an eighth place finish at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships after earning recognition as the top freshman finisher at the NCAA meet the year before. She is a three-time NCAA Track & Field Championships qualifier and a 2009 USA Track & Field Championships participant.

Kosinski ranks among the school’s all-time best in the outdoor 1,500 and 5,000 meters and the indoor mile and 3,000 meters. She finished second in the 1,500 meters at the 2008 Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and finished sixth at the World Junior Championships.

As a prep star, Kosinski drew national acclaim when she broke the national high school 1,600 meter federation record as a senior and was a two-time Foot Locker cross country qualifier.

For this Ducks team that has been deemed “the best track team in the country,” there is more than just raw talent that makes them successful. It is their ability to prepare that also makes them the best there is.

Therefore they are as vulnerable or beatable as any non-athlete. What makes this team great, and contributes to their success, is that these Ducks never show it before a race. On the outside they are only focused on what lies ahead of them. This behavior shows early on dating back to their focus an intensity that led to accolades back in high school, and what steered them to Eugene and “Track Town USA.”

An accomplishment that this group has done before, but back-to-back national championships just isn’t enough. Like last year this team is chomping at the bit to do it again for the three-peat. There is no doubt the women’s indoor track program will achieve this remarkable feat. With these six horses leading the pack, the money line bet has to be on Oregon to win.

Gardner shows her UO pride after a race.

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