The Oregon women’s track and field team overachieved at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships two weeks ago, while the Duck men underperformed in Birmingham, Ala.
Both results have shaped the narrative heading into the outdoor season that begins Friday and Saturday at the Aztec Invitational hosted by San Diego State.
The women placed third at the NCAA indoor meet with a pair of national championships. They repeated as champions in the distance medley relay, getting a win-sealing anchor from Jessica Hull, who one day later broke the tape in the 3,000 meters for her second individual national title. Triple jumper Chaquinn Cook and long jumper Rhesa Foster also scored for Oregon with a second- and fifth-place finish, respectively, in their events.
Oregon coach Robert Johnson, who went into the NCAA indoor thinking a fifth-place finish was possible for his women’s team, said he wants them to carry that success into the spring.
“We talked a little bit about not letting this moment die and using it as momentum moving into the outdoor season,” he said. “I think the kids have really taken that message to heart.”
The women open the season ranked fifth by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, and the men open at No. 7.
“Hopefully we can live up to those moving into outdoors, and maybe do a lot better,” Johnson said.
The Oregon men have their work cut out for them based on how their winter went.
The Ducks placed 18th at the NCAA Indoor meet with 11 points, getting fourth-place individual finishes from Cravon Gillespie in the 60 and Cooper Teare in the 3,000. Charlie Hunter also scored with his eighth-place finish in the mile.
“Have to go back to the drawing board,” Johnson asserted, later adding, “I think we have a collection of good male sprinters. That 4x100 should be something that we have to possibly score some points. I think more time for our distance runners is going to help.”
Most of those distance runners will have to wait another week to make their outdoor season debut at the Stanford Invitational.
While there are a few entered in the Aztec Invitational, the meet is mostly loaded with sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers and throwers, including several Ducks competing in off events.
Oregon will remain in southern California next week for training in Chula Vista.
With no home meets on the schedule this year as construction at Hayward Field continues, the closest the Ducks will get to competing in Eugene is April 26-27 at the OSU High Performance meet in Corvallis, two weeks before the Pac-12 championship meet in Tucson, Ariz.