The Bill Dellinger Invitational won’t be your typical rust-buster.
Oregon’s annual early season cross country meet will include eight top-25 teams — four in both the men’s and women's fields — Saturday morning at Pine Ridge Golf Club in Springfield.
That includes the Ducks, who are ranked ninth in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association women's poll, and 11th in the men’s poll.
The men’s 14-team 8,000-meter race is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. and will also include No. 2 BYU, No. 7 Portland and No. 24 UCLA, as well as Texas, Villanova, Air Force, Boise State, Washington State and Furman.
The women’s 13-team 6,000-meter race will start at 11:30 and will include No. 6 BYU, No. 13 Boise State and No. 15 Furman, as well as UCLA, Oregon State, Texas, Air Force and Washington State.
“It’s going to be a really good group and I’m excited to see where we’re at,” Oregon senior Amanda Gehrich said. “I don’t doubt that we’re going to perform well. Usually when there’s really good competition, we bring out our best. It’s nice to have a really competitive field because we’re going to run really fast and I’m excited for that.”
Before leaving for training camp in Sunriver, the Ducks made their season debut Sept. 6 at the Ash Creek Invitational in Monmouth. Newcomer Lucky Schreiner, a senior transfer from Columbia, won the men’s 6K as Oregon runners took the top six spots for a perfect team score of 15 points.
The women also won their 4K race, as senior Susan Ejore got the win to lead a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Ducks.
“It was kind of a good starting point for us to build off of,” said junior Cooper Teare, who will make his season debut Saturday. “Everyone wanted to have a really good 2½-week period (in Sunriver) where we could just train, recover, eat well, sleep well and just get the work done. … I’m excited to see where are come Saturday.”
Also entered for his season debut on Saturday is highly touted freshman Cole Hocker, who was the 2018 Foot Locker Nationals champion, and senior James West, who is coming off a long track season that included a fifth-place finish in the 1,500 at the British Championships on Aug. 25.
Other entries for the Oregon men are 2018 Pac-12 freshman of the year Charlie Hunter, Schreiner, Jackson Mestler, Noah Affolder, Reed Brown, Carter Christman, Levi Thomet and Jack Yearian.
Ejore and Gehrich are entered for the UO women, as are two others who ran for the Ducks during their third-place finish at the 2018 NCAA championship meet — seniors Phily Bowden and Isabelle Brauer.
Also entered are newcomers Francesca Ierulli, Moira O’Shea, Aneta Konieczek and Carly Kleefeld, as well as sophomores Caramia Mestler and Taylor Chiotti.
“There’s a lot of potential there,” Gehrich said. “It’s a very talented group of girls and willing to work really hard, which is really important quality for our team. … Being a podium team is always one of our goals and I think Saturday will be a good teller of that.”
Follow Chris Hansen on Twitter @chansen_RG or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.