Rogers in rare underdog role
EUGENE — There hasn’t been a more accomplished 800-meter runner in the NCAA the past two seasons than Raevyn Rogers.
The Oregon junior has won the past two NCAA outdoor titles, and she’ll head to College Station, Texas, this week as the defending champion in the NCAA Indoor Track & Field championship meet as well.
But she won’t go in as the top seed.
Rogers was the national leader in the 800 earlier this season after running 2 minutes, 1.75 seconds at the Columbia East-West Challenge in New York on Jan. 27
She was later passed in the standings by two runners when Texas A&M freshman Jazmine Fray ran 2:00.69 and BYU senior Shea Collinsworth ran 2:01.42 in meets on Feb. 10.
“When Jazmine ran the 2-flat I talked to coach (Robert) Johnson and was like ‘Oh, OK,’” Rogers said. “It takes the pressure off my back, but at the same time, it gives me that underdog feeling that I have to work for it even more, and it motivates me to prove that I can be better.”
Fray will have the home-track advantage this week, but Rogers, a native of nearby Houston, will also have a large cheering section.
“My high school coaches, summer track coaches, family, everyone is going to be there,” Rogers said. “I’m excited.”
Robert Johnson, Hannah Cunliffe and Edward Cheserek were all honored by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association on Monday.
Johnson was named the West Region men’s and women’s track coach of the year, Cunliffe was the women’s track athlete of the year and Cheserek was the men’s track athlete of the year.
Cunliffe set the collegiate record in the 60 at 7.07 in February. The junior is also ranked second in the 200 this season.
Cheserek, a senior, set the collegiate record in the mile two weeks ago in Boston when he ran 3:52.01. Cheserek is also ranked No. 1 in the 5,000 and No. 2 in the 3,000 this season.
The Oregon men’s team got a boost the past few days when miler Tim Gorman and sprinter Marcus Chambers were late adds to the NCAA indoor meet.
The Ducks, who are going for their fourth straight title, now have three men in the mile as Gorman joins Edward Cheserek — the collegiate record-holder — and Matthew Maton.
Gorman, a fifth-year senior from Dartmouth, had the 19th-fastest mile time this season at 3:58.78, but moved up the ranks into the top 16 as others dropped out.
Chambers made it into the 200 on Monday. His season-best of 20.78 had also been 19th in the country, though there isn’t a ton of room between the Oregon senior and top-ranked Jereem Richards of Alabama at 20.34.
The Ducks have eight athletes in 11 events plus the distance medley relay team, entered this week.