Oregon already has one athlete with bags packed for Texas.
The Ducks will have 56 more chances to add to its national championship road trip over the next three days during the NCAA West Preliminary track & Field meet taking place at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento.
Along with freshman Pac-12 champion Max Vollmer, who is qualified for the NCAA decathlon, Oregon is tied with BYU for the third-most West Prelim entries competing for a spot at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Austin on June 5-8. Only Arkansas (62) and Texas A&M (60) have more.
The top-12 finishers in each event at both the West Prelim meet and East Prelim meet in Jacksonville, Fla., automatically advance to the NCAA championships.
“One is as good as 12,” said Oregon coach Robert Johnson, whose men’s team won its 13th straight Pac-12 title two weeks ago in Tucson, Ariz. The women were second for the second straight year. “It's a little bit of a different mentality."
Of course, among the 41 Ducks (sprinter Jasmin Reed qualified in the 100 but is a medical scratch) and four relay teams competing Thursday through Saturday in Sacramento, some have more work to do than others to keep their season alive.
The Ducks have 22 qualifiers ranked in the top 12 heading into the meet, and 10 more ranked in the top 20. They also have 11 athletes who are entered in two individual events.
Leading the way for the No. 10 Oregon women’s team is 2018 1,500-meter national champion Jessica Hull, who just won her second straight Pac-12 title.
The redshirt junior has the top time in the nation this season at 4 minutes, 12.08 seconds. She also has the fifth -fastest time nationally in the 5,000 at 15:34.93, but is not entered in that event.
“We’re looking at the long term and she’ll have a busy summer,” Johnson said. “After sitting down with her and (Oregon associate head coach Helen Lehman-Winters), the 1,500 made sense.”
For the No. 5 Oregon men’s team, record-setting senior sprinter Cravon Gillespie is ranked third in the nation in the 100, fourth in the 200 and a member of the No. 4 4x100 team. Regionally, Gillespie is ranked third in the 100, second in the 200 and the 4x100 team is second.
The men’s 100 on Thursday will feature the three-fastest times in the NCAA this season, and three of the four sprinters who have gone under 10 seconds this season.
Texas Tech’s Divine Oduduru has the fastest time at 9.94, Houston’s Mario Burke is second at 9.95, and Gillespie is third at 9.97 — his time from the Pac-12 championships when he became the first Duck to run a sub-10-second 100.
In the 200, Oduduru is the national leader at 19.76. Gillespie has run a school-record 20.17.
“It’ll be good to go out there and compete with those guys,” said Gillespie, the Pac-12 track athlete of the year. “I feel like I’m ready.”
Other Ducks with favorable regional rankings are freshman Pac-12 champion Eric Edwards Jr., who is second in the 110 hurdles at 13.59; sophomore Reed Brown, who is fifth in the 1,500 at 3:38.76; and sophomore Pac-12 champion Cooper Teare, who is sixth in the 5,000 at 13:32.73.
For the UO women, junior Susan Ejore is third in the 800 at 2:02.66; junior Carmela Cardama Baez is fifth in the 5,000 at 15:38.77 and sixth in the 10,000 at 32:55.50; and junior Hannah Waller and senior Briyahna DesRosiers are sixth (51.60) and eighth (52.02), respectively, in the 400.
The meet begins at noon Thursday with the men’s hammer. Action on the track begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and at 6 p.m. Saturday.