NAMPA, Idaho — Well within reach after the first day of the Cascade Conference Track and Field Championships are Southern Oregon University's second straight men's title and the Raiders' best showing on the women's side since 2005.
The Raider men began their title defense Friday with wins in four of 10 events, including CCC three-peats by Jonz Olander in the 400-meter race and Eric Avila in the 1,500 meters. Olander also anchored SOU's 4x100-meter relay win and Eric Ghelfi put a bow on the day with a victory in the 10,000-meter race.
SOU, which is No.5 in the USTFCCCA computer rankings, accumulated 93 team points to pull ahead of slight-favorite Concordia. The second-ranked Cavaliers, who had taken the conference seven straight times before last year, have 84.33 points and Eastern Oregon 68 going into the final events Saturday at Northwest Nazarene University.
The SOU women are in third place — they haven't finished better than fourth in nine years — with 64 points, behind only College of Idaho (136.5) and Eastern Oregon (64). Concordia is in fourth with 49.
Freshman Lauren McGowne contributed 19 of those points by winning the long jump, placing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles and fifth in the high jump.
Olander, who was last year's CCC Championships Men's Athlete of the Meet, won the 400 in 48.25 seconds to beat Corban's Nathan Swanson by two-tenths of a second. He placed second in the event as a freshman, won as a sophomore and set a meet record (47.70) in 2013.
Then he helped the 4x100-meter relay team — which also included Kermit Knight, Cameron Bremner and Robert Benamati — upset Concordia with a season-best time of 41.58 seconds that was five-hundredths of a second off an automatic qualifying mark for the NAIA Championships and eight-hundredths of a second short of matching Western Oregon's 15-year-old meet record.
Avila set the 1,500-meter meet record last year and won this time in 3 minute, 46.96 seconds to beat Concordia's Matthew Clowes by over a second. Avila and Clowes had the second- and third-best times in the NAIA heading into the race. SOU's Jared Hixon helped with a fourth-place finish (3:51.40) and Kevin Jorgensen was sixth (3:51.91).
Ghelfi, who placed seventh in the 10,000 meters last year, was the top seed and won by over four seconds with a time of 32:17.88.
In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Cary Dunagan took second (9:31.88) and Trevor Lynn placed third (9:46.99). Barkley claimed third in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.56 seconds that was a career-best and just one-tenth of a second off the win.
For the Raider women, McGowne's long jump of 17 feet, 93/4 inches beat her previous best by three inches for a mark that ranks fifth in school history. She overcame College of Idaho's Jasmine Hurd, who set a school record to match McGowne but whose series of jumps left her short of the tiebreaker.
SOU's Holly Haga placed second in the discus with a mark of 141-2. Amelia Maguin took third in the 100-meter hurdles (15.10 seconds) and McGowne fourth (15.23).
OREGON 5, ARIZONA STATE 4 — At Tempe, Ariz., Mitchell Tolman gave Oregon the lead for good with a two-RBI triple before scoring on a throwing error on the play and the Ducks held on for a Pac-12 Conference win.
Tolman, who was 1-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored, drove a one-ball, one-strike pitch into the left-center field gap to score Mark Karaviotis from second and Tyler Baumgartner from first. Tolman scored when shortstop Drew Stankiewicz's relay throw got away from third baseman David Greer and ended up in the Sun Devils' dugout.
Oregon (36-14, 13-9 Pac-12) jumped out to an early lead in the top of the second inning against ASU (24-21, 12-10 Pac-12). Josh Graham drove in the first run with an RBI single to right field scoring Tolman, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning.
Graham moved to second on a throwing error by catcher Brian Serven and came around to score when Stankiewicz couldn't handle an Austin Grebeck ground ball.
The Sun Devils got the runs right back in the bottom of the inning against Oregon starter Tommy Thorpe. Serven drove in two runs with a no-out, bases loaded RBI single that scored Jake Peevyhouse and Tever Allen. Thorpe battled his way out of the jam, not allowing any more runs. The Ducks' lefty retired the next three hitters in order to keep the game tied and set up Tolman's big hit.
OREGON STATE 4, UCLA 2 — At Corvallis, second-ranked Oregon State broke a 2-2 tie with two bases-loaded walks in the eighth inning and held on to edge UCLA at Goss Stadium.
Senior lefty Ben Wetzler earned his school-record 33rd career win with eight solid innings. He allowed eight hits, two runs, struck out eight and did not issue a walk. He retired the final eight Bruins he faced in order to improve his career home record to 17-2. He is 6-0 with an 0.75 ERA and has averaged eight innings in six home starts this season.
Senior closer Scott Schultz fanned two of the three Bruins he faced in a perfect ninth for his fifth save.