SPRINGFIELD — Oregon put the finishing touch on its whirlwind preseason Friday morning with a predictable and coordinated effort at the Bill Dellinger Invitational cross country meet at the Springfield Golf Club.
The fourth-ranked Duck women overwhelmed a less-talented field, getting the top-seven finishers — including winner Susan Ejore — in a 6,000-meter race that was never in doubt.
The eighth-ranked Oregon men, with several runners still competing unattached, finished second to No. 3 Portland, 25-38, in their 8,000-meter race.
Redshirt sophomore Reuben Kiprono got the individual win for the Pilots with a 14.5-second victory over Oregon sophomore Cooper Teare.
The Ducks opened their season Sept. 6 with the Oregon XC Preview on Pre’s Trail, left for training camp in Sunriver the next day and returned Thursday afternoon with just enough time to check out the course and get to bed.
The Ducks will now have three weeks before the Pre-Nationals Invitational in Madison, Wisc., on Oct. 16, followed by the Pac-12 Championship meet on Oct. 26 at Stanford.
“Today was just to get out and get reacquainted with what it’s like to run a cross country meet and try and pack it up and for the most part we did a good at that,” first-year Oregon women’s coach Helen Lehman-Winters said.
With Ejore and Jessica Hull leading the way for much of the race, the Ducks dominated the competition with their 15-point performance. Nevada was second with 62 points, followed by UC Davis (80), Portland (83) and Seattle University (151).
Oregon’s top seven were never challenged, with Ejore crossing first in 19 minutes, 32.7 seconds. Weronika Pysik was second in 19:33, followed by Hull (19:33.3), Carmela Cardama Baez (19:34.2), Isabelle Brauer (20:12.4), Phily Bowden (20:16.2) and Amanda Gehrich (20:19.7).
“The way we’ve been training and where we’re at right now, I wasn’t surprised that they would be all together,” Lehman-Winters said. “Obviously our hope is we can continue to build off of that.”
It was the second win of the season for Ejore, a senior from Kenya who made a splash as an 800-meter runner during the 2018 track season. She crushed the competition at the Oregon XC Preview with a 30-second win, and held off Pyzik, Hull and Cardama Baez on Friday as the foursome approached the finish line in a tight pack.
“It was nice and easy,” Ejore said. “Our plan was to finish strongly as a team. We wanted to finish all together as a team.”
It was the first race in an Oregon uniform for newcomers Pyzik, Brauer and Bowden, who all followed Lehman-Winters when she left San Francisco to take the Duck job this summer. Pyzik and Brauer where fifth and 15th, respectively, at the NCAA cross country championships last season and Bowden,a redshirt senior from England, had been committed to go to San Francisco before Lehman-Winters departed.
“They are so good,” Ejore said. “Everybody has different talents, different potential and when we bring our hard work and potential together, we are going to be a strong team.”
Teare was one of four Ducks who ran unattached Friday in the men’s race, just as he did at the Oregon XC Preview, as Oregon wanted to preserve the talented sophomore’s ability to redshirt in case something happened in these early weeks of the season.
He finished second in 24:54, just ahead Jackson Mestler, who was the Ducks' first official scorer at 24:55.3.
Also running unattached for similar reasons was Oregon sophomore Reed Brown, who took seventh in 25:14.4. The Ducks got the rest of their points from James West in ninth (25:16.5), Levi Thomet in 12th (25:19.5), Blake Haney in 13th (25:24.7) and Jack Yearin in 19th (25:55.6).
Kiprono won 24:39.5 and the Pilots had four others score in the top 10.
“We worked pretty hard Wednesday so we were trying to do more of a pack run but the guys looked a little tired second-half of the race,” first-year Oregon men’s coach Ben Thomas said. “It was a good workout though.”