STANFORD, Calif. — The Oregon men appear to be in good position for a 12th straight conference team title heading into Sunday’s final day at the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships at Stanford’s Cobb Track and Angell Field.
The Oregon women, however, will be a in day-long battle with USC for their 10th straight team title.
The Ducks open the day in second place in the men’s standings with 43 points, five behind Stanford.
The women ended Saturday with 22 points, far behind both Stanford (71) and USC (44).
But the Ducks have tons of scoring potential on Sunday, as do the Trojans.
Here’s the setup for what should be a thrilling day at Stanford.
The women’s sprints/hurdles — Oregon qualified 16 athletes for the finals in the 100, 200, 400, 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles. USC qualified 19. The Ducks and Trojans make up the entire nine-women fields in the 100 and 200, and seven of the nine in the 400 and 100 hurdles. Oregon doesn’t need to make up points in the these five events, it just needs to prevent USC from adding too much to its lead.
The women’s middle distances — This is where Oregon can make up the most ground. The Ducks have four in the 1,500 and two in the 800, compared to one for the Trojans. If Oregon is going to contend Sunday and challenge USC, it will be determined early in the meet. The 1,500 is the second event on the track and the Ducks will need to strike right away. Jessica Hull and Lilli Burdon went 1-2 in the prelims on Saturday and are among the favorites to win the title. Katie Rainsberger, last year’s Pac-12 runner up, also qualified and is a dark horse to contend after a injury-marred season. Newcomer Amanda Gehrich also qualified and could be a back-end scorer. In the 800, Sabrina Southerland is the favorite after winning the NCAA Indoor title in March. The Ducks will probably need a top-four finish from Susan Ejore as well. While USC won’t contend in either of these races, Stanford will. The Cardinal can throw a wrench into the comeback plans by outperforming the Ducks.
The women’s 5,000 — This is the wildcard event. Oregon has entered eight in the meet’s penultimate race and USC has none. Traditionally, teams over enter in this event (hence the 54 entries in Sunday’s final) only to pull their runners out if it’s not necessary for them to run. That might not be the case Sunday if Oregon still needs points going to into the 4x400. Samantha Nadel is the only Duck entry who will be coming in with fresh legs. All four of Sunday’s 1,500 finalists are entered, as are Carmela Cardama Baez and Alli Cash, who went 4-5 in the 10,000 on Saturday, and Judy Pendergast, who was ninth in the 3,000 steeplechase.
The women’s triple jump — Chaquinn Cook is the defending champion and the Duck junior will need a repeat performance to keep the Ducks maximizing their scoring in areas USC has no point potential. So, no pressure.
The Oregon men have a more secure path to the team title, but there are still some key events for the Ducks to keep them moving in the right direction.
The men’s middle distances — Senior Sam Prakel was on his game during the prelims Saturday, running the fastest qualifying time in the 800 and second-fastest in the 1,500. He wasn’t the only one. Mick Stanovsek also qualified in the 800 and James West and Cooper Teare advanced in the 1,500 for the Ducks
The men’s 100 — Oregon newcomer Cravon Gillespie ran 10.15 on Saturday during the prelims and the pre-meet favorite remains the one to beat on Sunday. Damarcus Simpson, last year’s second-place finisher who is coming in off a win the long jump on Saturday, also qualified, as did Oregon’s Myles Webb and Rieker Daniel.
The men’s field events — Tristan James was second in the long jump on Saturday and should also contend in the triple jump on Sunday. Ben Milligan could also be among the leaders in the high jump.
Action on the track begins at 3 p.m. with the women’s 4x100 relay. The Pac-12 Network will broadcats live from the meet starting at that time as well.