The Ducks are rising in the rankings and have one last meet to bolster their NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships roster.
That’ll be the goal Friday and Saturday in Seattle during the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship meet at Dempsey Indoor.
Bringing home a trophy would be nice. Bringing home more NCAA Indoor qualifiers — or securing spots for those already sitting in qualifying position — would be much nicer.
“We always talk about the national meet being something that we’re going to be locked in and focused (on),” Oregon coach Robert Johnson said. “We’ve traditionally used the Mountain Pacific to qualify our kids to the national meet and so that doesn’t change this weekend.”
Using the descending order list, the top-16 declared athletes in each individual event will make the March 8-9 NCAA Indoor meet in Birmingham, Ala. The relays qualify 12 teams. The deadline for qualifying is Sunday.
“There are a whole host of kids that are top 20 and of course top 20 doesn’t do you any good,” Johnson said. “It’ll get you a pat on the back.”
As it stands, the No. 3 Oregon women have seven top-16 rankings across six events. Jessica Hull is second nationally in the mile and 3,000, Susan Ejore is 13th in the 800 and mile, Hannah Waller is second in the 400, Chaquinn Cook is second in the triple jump and Rhesa Foster is sixth in the long jump.
Waller is entered in the 200 this weekend, not the 400, and Cook is only entered in the 60.
The primary focus for the women’s team this weekend is to secure a spot for its distance medley relay team at the NCAA Indoor meet. The Ducks were DMR national champions in 2018.
Hull, Ejore, Makenzie Dunmore and Taylor Chiotti will team up to try and improve the Ducks’ season-best time of 11 minutes, 17.54 seconds, which is 22nd fastest in the NCAA this year. Ohio State currently has the 12th fastest team at 11:02.12.
“That’ll be a big to-do for us on Friday,” Johnson said.
The 10th-ranked men’s team has 10 top-16 marks in five events. Oregon’s DMR also has the eighth fastest time this season and won’t run this weekend.
Leading the way are the men’s milers who have posted six sub-four-minute times this season and have four in the top 16 in Charlie Hunter (fifth, 3:57.74), James West (sixth, 3:57.75), Reed Brown (11th, 3:58.22) and Blake Haney (15th, 3:58.73). Cooper Teare has also run 3:59.21 and Jackson Mestler has clocked a 3:59.77.
“It’s still one of those Holy Grail-type feats,” Johnson said of running under four minutes. “So to have six of those guys on are team really shows the true testament to what (first-year coach Ben Thomas) is doing in our program.”
Those times will have to hold up through the weekend as the only miler the Ducks have entered at the MPSF meet is Austin Tamagno.
Cooper and West are also ranked seventh and 14th, respectively, in the 3,000. Both are entered at that distance this weekend. Cravon Gillespie is 15th in the 200 and tied for 16th in the 60. He’s only entered in the 60 this weekend. Eric Edwards Jr., who is recovering from a broken collarbone, and Braxton Canady are ranked seventh and tied for 13th, respectively in the 60 hurdles.