Order is Restored: Oregon Wins Mens/Womens Pac-12 T&F Championships…Again

Bruce Editorials

The Men and Women of Oregon crushed the rest of the conference in this past weekend’s Track and Field Championships. While the women seemed a lock going into the meet, the men entered the meet in a battle with USC for the conference crown.

Days one and two more or less settled the meet, with the Ducks scoring right and left in events that were up for grabs. Two good examples might be the men’s and women’s long jumps on Saturday. In both cases, the Ducks were expected to score around 10 points until coach Robert Johnson decided to let his triple jumpers get in some long jump reps. The result? The Ducks scored 18 points on both the men’s and women’s side and the rout was on.

A compilation of all day 1 and day 2 finals showed the men +21 vs the form chart I use and the women +25. While most of the finals were held on Sunday, the Ducks had so many unexpected entrants that moved through the prelims into the finals, that nary a dedicated Duck fan expected anything less than easy wins for both squads in the team title race.

Jeff Kinder lets go a discus in the decathlon Pac-12 Championship.

The men, initially favored by about 10 points blew the Trojans off the track and also dog-piled on the surprising second place Huskies 161-105. The heavily favored women did what was expected, and more and buried second place Colorado 167-102.5. The few disappointments were overwhelmed by the unexpected points from members of what might be called the tightest, most dedicated Duck team in any sport. For instance, a huge number of non-entrants on Friday showed up in the rain and cold to cheer their team mates on.

Coach Robert Johnson truly has understood what it takes to put a real team together. A team that doesn’t quit and peaks for major championships with results that belie unimportant results in March and April. We are fans of champions and I doubt that any team has delivered more than Duck track and field over the past decades.

While every team member might be designated an important component of a quality program, the superstars of this year’s meet were Micah Williams who upset favored SC athletes in both the 100 and 200m and Kemba Nelson who won the 100, 200 and led the 4×100 womens relay team to victory. Other standouts were sophomore Jaida Ross who set a school record in the shot put, Emmanuel Ihemeje who won the triple jump while placing second in the long jump and Dominique Ruotolo who grabbed a second in the long jump and a third in the triple jump.

Jaida Ross on her way to a superb throw in the Pac-12 Championship Shotput.

Despite going into the final day with insurmountable leads, the Duck athletes continued to out-perform the form charts throughout the day until they backed out of the women’s 4×400 relay and substituted heavily in the men’s 4×400. I guess you could call that a track version of not running up the score and further embarrassing the already humiliated also rans.

Nelson is a senior and Williams might be expected to turn pro, but the future looks bright for the Ducks, a team loaded with talented freshmen and sophomores. The fact that there were limited facilities during the renovation of Hayward Field hurt recruiting for a few years, but we’re seeing the bounce that most Duck track fans expected with the completion of the best track and field stadium in the world.

Next up for the Ducks are the Western Regionals in Fayetteville, AR. The regionals will determine who competes in the NCAAs in June at Hayward. Stay tuned, the next few years should be one fantastic ride for Duck fans.

Bruce Nelson
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from Oregon Track Twitter

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