Oregon women capture indoor crown

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Oregon women's track and field team dug its way out of a deep deficit to overcome nearly a dozen teams and win its fourth straight NCAA indoor national title Saturday night at the Randal Tyson Center.

The Ducks locked up the meet with their only event win of the championships — the 4x400 meter relay — to secure the title with 56 points. Kansas was second with 44, Louisiana State third with 43 and host Arkansas fourth with 42.5.

The combination of English Gardner, Chizoba Okodogbe, Laura Roesler and Phyllis Francis won the 4x400 relay for Oregon in a school record 3:30.22. Gardner put her squad ahead on the opening leg and the Ducks never looked back. Gardner was timed at 53.64, followed by Okodogbe's 52.54, Roesler's 52.64 and Francis's impressive 51.42 as Oregon won the indoor 4x4 crown for the second time in four years.

The Ducks became just the second team to win four consecutive NCAA indoor titles, joining LSU, which won five straight from 1993-97.

The Oregon men proved resurgent too, with Elijah Greer winning the 800 meters en route to a Top 10 finish.

The women opened the day in 11th place with nine points, but began their climb with a gutsy run from Becca Friday in the mile. The senior from Bellingham, Wash., rallied from ninth place to sixth on the final lap, crossing the tape in 4:39.23 for three team points.

Next, it was Francis' time to step up in the 400 meters. She came back from a ragged semifinal run on Friday to place second in her heat and fourth overall in 52.01. That was worth five team points as the Ducks began to gain ground on Kansas and Arkansas and keep pace with LSU.

The Ducks then jumped to second place with 12 points in the 60 meters.

Roseler put the Ducks into the lead for the first time with her runner up finish in the 800 meters.


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