Oregon men, women claim Pac-12 crowns
EUGENE — In recent days, Oregon sophomore Chaquinn Cook's training in the triple jump had been plagued by a tendency to foul.
Wary of that trend, Cook hit the board with room enough to post a legal jump of 44 feet, 1 1/2 inches, in her first attempt in Sunday's final session of the Pac-12 Championship meet at Hayward Field. That stood up as the winning mark in the event, making Cook the surprise winner of the Pac-12 title.
"Being able to put it all together when it really matters," Cook said, "is great."
Up and down the ranks, on the track and in the field, from both men and women, that was the theme of the weekend for Oregon track and field. Expected to face stiff challenges from USC in both team races, the Ducks instead blew away the field on both sides, sweeping the Pac-12 team titles for the ninth straight year.
The Oregon women won for the 15th time overall and the ninth straight spring, piling up 189 points to distance themselves from USC at 135. On the men's side, where the Ducks' internal form charts conservatively projected a 12-point loss, they instead scored 175 to win for the 11th year in a row and beat the runner-up Trojans by 59.5 points.
"Coming in here, I had it a lot closer than that," UO coach Robert Johnson said, a touch of amazement in his voice.
It was clear from the start that Sunday was to be Oregon's day. Not only did senior Ryan Hunter-Simms win the early afternoon discus competition with a throw of 192-7, Cullen Prena was fourth and Drake Brennan took sixth. That was 18 largely unexpected points for Oregon, the meet turning into a route as Kyree King doubled in the 100 and 200 meters, and also helped the Ducks win the 4x100 relay in 39.17 seconds.
King was named the male athlete of the meet after running a wind-aided 10.09 in the 100 and 10.27 in the 200.
"You've gotta get in the habit of winning at Oregon," said King, the first Duck to win the men's 100 meters since 1932. "I saw the girls, and knew I had to come through."
Indeed the sprinters of the Oregon women's team set a high bar, as they demonstrated yet again Sunday. Deajah Stevens led a 1-2-3 sweep by Ducks in the 100 meters — a field that included four Women of Troy — and also won the 200, ahead of three UO teammates.
Stevens ran 11.05 to win the 100 and a world-leading 22.09 in the 200, and was also on the victorious 4x100 relay team, a quartet that included Alaysha Johnson — who later won the 100 hurdles in 12.90. That was another race in which a Duck outdueled the Trojans, with USC runners finishing second and third despite outstanding starts.
It took more than individual titles for the UO men and women to accumulate such massive point totals. Hannah Cunliffe took third in both the 100 and 200, and Ariana Washington was runner-up in the 100 and anchored the 4x100 before scratching out of the 200 when the outcome of the team race was clear. Freshman Katie Rainsberger took second in a chaotic 1,500 in 4:23.07 and then doubled back in the 5,000, taking third in 16:13.53, leading three UO scorers in each field.
Defending NCAA champion Raevyn Rogers went wire-to-wire to win the 800, in which Brooke Feldmeier was fourth, and both helped the Ducks take second in the 4x400 relay. Elexis Guster finished second in the 400 in 51.32 to lead four UO finalists in that field. Kiana Phelps and Ronna Stone went 4-5 in the discus, and Madeline Middlebrooks was fourth in the hammer throw.
On the men's side, Oregon boasted the runner-up in five different races Sunday — Saturday's long jump champion Demarcus Simpson in the 100, Marcus Chambers in the 200 and 400, Blake Haney ahead of two more teammates in the 1,500, and Braxton Canady in the 110 hurdles.
"Second's tough; you want to win, so it's a bummer," Haney said. "I'm going to learn from it. But it's also a great race for me, so I can't be too upset."
The athlete of the meet on the women's side was Maggie Ewen of Arizona State, who followed up her win in the shot put Saturday by finishing first in the hammer throw and discus on Sunday. She got the nod over Stevens, who also was a part of three victories over the weekend, in the 100, 200 and 4x100.
"Starting out with the 4x100, I felt good," Stevens said. "We got the stick around, we executed, we started the day off well, and that's always important. That sets the tone."
Oregon State senior Helen Ann Haun and sophomore Gillette Field each set the school record in the pole vault.
Field was the first to establish the new standard, as she cleared 12-10.25 on her first try. The former record-holder at 12-10, Haun equaled that mark on her final attempt at that height.
Both women then missed three times at 13-2.25. Gillette placed sixth on fewer misses and scored three points; Haun took ninth.
The Beavers scored 21.50 points and took 11th place, ahead of Utah. It is the second-most points scored at the Pac-12 meet since the program was reinstated for the 2005 season after being suspended for budgetary reasons in June, 1988.