Cooper Teare likes running fast times just as much as anyone else. But what he likes even more is racing.

The thrill of the chase, the strategic moves, the gamesmanship, the adrenaline rush of crossing the line in first place.

“It’s what makes it all worth it,” the Oregon sophomore said.

He should get everything he’s looking for and then some this week during the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship meet in Austin, Texas.

The men compete Wednesday and Friday and the women compete Thursday and Saturday.

The Ducks are expected to contend for team trophies in both meets, with Teare representing the Oregon men’s last chance to score points when he lines up for the 5,000 meters at 7:25 p.m. on Friday.

“I think that would put a little chip on my shoulder if there’s something up for grabs there,” Teare said. “It would fuel the fire. But I’m going to go out and do my thing no matter if there’s a trophy on the line.”

Teare is expected to be among the contenders for his final race of the collegiate season, though the presumptive favorites appear to be Wisconsin’s Morgan McDonald and Stanford’s Grant Fisher.

McDonald is having a sensational senior season, having won national titles in cross country and at the NCAA Indoor meet in the 3,000 and 5,000.

Also a senior, Fisher won the 5,000 title as a sophomore in 2017 and finished third last season. He was the runner-up in the 3,000 at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March and at the NCAA cross country championships in November.

Teare, however, has competed well against both this season. He was fourth in the 3,000 indoors and was sixth at the Pac-12 cross country championships. Last month in Tucson, Ariz., Teare beat Fisher for the Pac-12 title in the 5,000.

In that race, Teare was trapped along the rail before aggressively sliding his way out into the open to enter the homestretch in the lead and he outkicked Fisher to the finish line to win 13 minutes, 49.77seconds to 13:50.30.

“He’s got great racing instincts and he understands during the race who he has to be close to at the right time,” Oregon associate head coach Ben Thomas said. “So far he’s done a great job of that.”

With the win, Teare joined Edward Cheserek (2015), Galen Rupp (2007), Alberto Salazar (1981) and Ken Martin (1980) as Ducks who have won a conference title in the 5,000.

“I knew it was going to be a hard one to win,” said Teare, 19, the 2017 Pac-12 freshman of the year in cross country. “Grant Fisher has always sort of been a Goliath in the running world, running really fast times, winning championships and doing awesome things. I knew it was going to take a really big last lap, a last 150, to win the Pac-12 title.”

At the NCAA West Preliminary meet two weeks ago, Teare and McDonald ran should-to-shoulder down the homestretch as they both slowed down and coasted to automatic qualifying finishes behind Fisher.

It’s been a much different spring for Teare than last season, when the freshman needed a lean at the line during the West Preliminary meet to earn the 12th and final qualifying spot for the NCAA championships.

In the finals at Hayward Field, Teare finished 17th in a race that showed his inexperience.

“I kind of threw my race, honestly,” Teare said. “Literally the whole backstretch was filled with family and friends just screaming my name during my race so every time I’d go by them I’d speed up and then I’d get to the other side and slow down, and then I’d speed up and slow down, so when it when it got time to go, I had already used all my energy trying to look good for my friends and family.

“I’ve learned from that mistake. That was a rookie mistake.”

Last summer Teare competed for Team USA at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Tampere, Finland, finishing 10th in both the 1,500 and 5,000. When he left for the meet, Oregon was still in the midst of a coaching search to replace Andy Powell. When Teare returned, the Ducks had hired Thomas away from Virginia Tech.

“He has a much different training style than we had last year and it’s really high-intensity, high-volume and it takes a toll on you, that’s for sure,” Teare said. “But that’s why I’m here. I want to be the best that I can be. I’m running very fast times and competing with really good guys.”

Teare dropped his personal best in the 5,000 from 13:46.46 last season to 13:32.73 this year. He has the sixth-fastest time in the NCAA this season and fifth fastest among the entires this week.

“He’s getting closer,” Thomas said. “He’s confident. He’s certainly not afraid to give himself a chance. I think he’ll be ready when he goes to the line Friday.”