Ches-Jenkins 1-2 at NCAA 5 and 10

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RELEASE DATE: 06/10/2015


In the eyes of UO coach Robert Johnson, the Men of Oregon mostly held form Wednesday to open the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships — which doesn't sound overwhelming, until you consider that "form" included two individual titles.

The day began with points from hammer thrower Greg Skipper, but over the next couple of hours the Ducks didn't see many on the bubble to score break through. The program's momentum changed in a rousing stretch of about 10 minutes late in the day, putting Oregon in strong contention for its second straight team title when the men's portion of the meet concludes Friday.

As twilight neared at Hayward Field, Sam Crouser was finishing off his second consecutive javelin title. Meanwhile, on the track, Edward Cheserek led teammate Eric Jenkins through a 1-2 finish in the 10,000 meters. Those finishes weren't unexpected — but they also weren't easy.

"It's tough to do — even though it's predicted and you're expected, it's still pressure," Jenkins said. "We need these points. It's a big relief."

The event titles for Crouser and Cheserek, plus Jenkins' second and a third-place by Skipper, gave Oregon 34 team points. Dakotah Keys enters Thursday in prime position to add points in the decathlon, the only men's competition prior to Friday under a new format that splits up the bulk of the men's and women's events.

Cheserek and Jenkins will be back in action Friday in the 5,000 meters, joining a handful of teammates in other events. The Ducks will try to hold off the talented sprinters from Florida, who loom in second with 16 points.

"Today wasn't the main concern," Jenkins said. "Friday's going to be a tough race, a tough day, and the most important one. We're just trying to get recovered and ready for that 5k."

For much of Wednesday's 10k, the pace was accommodating. Cheserek was fifth and Jenkins was ninth about 3,000 meters in, before the pace slowed and the field condensed. Midway through the race, Craig Lutz of Texas tried to enforce a more honest pace, with Jason Witt of BYU and Cheserek going with him.

"I was just waiting for someone to come push it, and then sit back," said Cheserek, a sophomore who won his seventh NCAA individual title. "I wasn't worried about leading the race. Just waiting for somebody to take it."

That trio gapped the field a bit, but Jenkins reeled them in and made the lead group a quartet. With three laps to go, he took the lead followed by Cheserek, and they held those positions until Cheserek kicked to the front with about 100 to go. He won in 28:58.92, followed by Jenkins in 28:59.13.

At about the same time, Crouser was wrapping up the javelin. He took a commanding lead on his third throw, of 256 feet, 4 inches. As it turned out, the only man to better that was Crouser himself, who threw 259-9 on his fifth throw for the winning mark.

Crouser's third attempt followed a massive throw easily beyond 80 meters — his winning effort was 79.19 — that was disallowed when he chopped his steps and just barely scratched. Rather than be disheartened by the non-counting mark, Crouser said he gained some confidence.

"If you foul a big one, you know you can throw a big one," he said. "It's different if you foul one way out of bounds, something like that. But it was barely anything. I knew I had it in me, and I just had to move my steps back a little bit."

Crouser was the second UO thrower to provide team points Wednesday, after Skipper improved on consecutive NCAA Outdoor fourth-place finishes by taking third in the hammer. He threw a personal best 233-9, the junior finishing behind only two seniors.

"With the week of practice leading up, I felt really good," Skipper said. "I knew there was something in the tank, and was able to find it. I'm just really happy to start the team off this way. ... Hopefully this gets momentum going."

For the next few hours, that wasn't necessarily the case. Johnathan Cabral andMarcus Chambers advanced to finals in the 110 hurdles and 400 meters, respectively. But several Ducks missed advancing to event finals by just a place or two — Tanguy Pepiot in the 3,000 steeplechase, Arthur Delaney in the 200,Trevor Ferguson and Nate Moore in the long jump.

Most form charts didn't project big points in those events, but every point is crucial with an NCAA title on the line, and would have been gladly welcomed.

An exception was the 1,500 meters. The Ducks were cautiously optimistic they could qualify all three of their runners, and the trio of Daniel WinnJohnny Gregorek and Blake Haney obliged. Winn took second in a bumpy first heat, in 3:45.78, before Haney and Gregorek went 2-3 in the faster second heat. Each recorded a PR, with Haney crossing in 3:40.81 and Gregorek following in 3:40.89.

The Ducks missed out on some other chances to bust the experts' form charts, but the trio in the 1,500 has a chance to do that come Friday.

"We're all about winning this team title," Gregorek said. "It's just an opportunity to get a lot of points, and we're all excited to get out there and finish as high as we can."

It’s Settled: Cheserek Is The King

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2015 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

June 10, 2015 to June 13, 2015
Hayward Field, Eugene, OR

June 12, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. — Let there be no doubt. Edward Cheserek beat Eric Jenkins in today’s men’s 5,000 final at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and there can be no ifs, ands or buts. With both runners going all-out over the final 200 meters, it was Cheserek who took down his Oregon teammate at Hayward Field, using a 54.66-second last lap to win a thrilling race in 13:48.67 to Jenkins’ 13:48.92, as the Ducks went 1-2-4 in the 5000 to cap a dominating team performance and repeat as NCAA champions. Cheserek covered the final 1600 meters in 4:08.39, even faster than Lawi Lalang closed to take down Cheserek last year.

Two nights earlier, Cheserek defeated Jenkins to win the 10,000, but it was clear nothing had been settled. Tension hung in the air in the mixed zone after the race as Jenkins said “I don’t actually chalk this up as a real loss.” That tension had evaporated by Friday evening, as the two were all smiles after the race, embracing after recording their fourth 1-2 finish in an NCAA championship race this year. Read that sentence again, because the last part isn’t likely to happen again for a long, long time.

Jenkins had given Cheserek his best shot and come up short, and he was at peace with that.

“I wasn’t holding anything back,” Jenkins said. “I definitely went for it. The last lap was tough, the last 200 was even harder and I just kind of tied up a little bit at the end, couldn’t stay relaxed, but overall I’m happy with how I did.”

Edward Cheserek Was King (click for day 3 photo gallery)

Edward Cheserek Was King (click for day 3 photo gallery)

Oregon couldn’t quite replicate its 1-2-3 sweep of the 3,000 indoorsbut still managed to take three of the top four spots as Arkansas’Kemoy Campbell turned the tables on the Ducks’ Will Geoghegan (who outkicked Campbell in the 3,000 indoors) to snatch third and relegate Geoghegan to fourth. Woody Kincaid of Portland was the other man kicking for the podium in the final 100 and he took fifth in 13:49.54.

Recap, results, analysis and interviews below.

PlaceNameAffiliationTimeHeat (Pl)
1Edward CheserekSOOregon13:48.671 (1)
2Eric JenkinsSROregon13:48.921 (2)
3Kemoy CampbellSRArkansas13:49.231 (3)
4Will GeogheganSROregon13:49.351 (4)
5William KincaidJRPortland13:49.541 (5)
6Justyn KnightFRSyracuse13:50.961 (6)
7Thomas CurtinJRVirginia Tech13:52.111 (7)
8Sean McGortyFRStanford13:53.631 (8)
9Erik OlsonSRStanford13:55.741 (9)
10Patrick TiernanSOVillanova13:55.811 (10)
11Weston StrumSRNorthern Arizona13:55.931 (11)
12Jake LeingangFROregon14:00.351 (12)
13Collin LeiboldJRGeorgetown14:10.211 (13)
14Colin BennieFRSyracuse14:12.881 (14)
15Michael ClevengerJRNotre Dame14:13.441 (15)
16Lane WerleyJRUCLA14:15.631 (16)
17Morgan PearsonJRColorado14:21.101 (17)
18Ty McCormackSRAuburn14:26.631 (18)
19Willy FinkSOEastern Michigan14:30.541 (19)
Thomas AwadJRPennDNF1,
Kirubel ErassaSROklahoma StateDNF1,
Jacob ThomsonFRNorth Carolina St.DNF1,
Jack GoodwinJRFlorida StateDNF1,
Mason FerlicJRMichiganDNF1,

The Race
This one was fairly uneventful for the first two miles as Virginia Tech’s Thomas Curtin led them through 1600 (4:32) and 3200 (9:07). Most of the field was still together with a mile to go when Villanova’s Patrick Tiernan went to the lead and started to string the pack out with a 65.47 lap. There were still 13 men in the lead pack with three laps to run but the big guns Cheserek and Jenkins were positioning themselves near the front as they prepared for the final kick. With them at the front were Tiernan, Campbell, Portland’s Woody Kincaid and Syracuse true freshman Justyn Knight.

Oregon 1-2-4 (Click for photo gallery)

Oregon 1-2-4 (Click for photo gallery)

The next lap was run in 67.29, not nearly enough to drop anyone in the front group, as Campbell took over the lead with Cheserek running on his outside. Campbell upped the ante with a 61.40 penultimate lap and Cheserek responded by taking the lead slightly before the bell as Jenkins moved onto his shoulder. Campbell, Geoghegan, Kincaid, Tiernan and Knight all still lurked behind.

The pace ratcheted up even further on the backstretch as Kincaid moved up on the outside and put in a surprising surge. That got the attention of Jenkins and Cheserek, who really picked up the pace as they and Kincaid began to battle for position. Cheserek assumed the lead early in the final turn and launched into his sprint as Jenkins followed.

Cheserek had a gap of a meter or two coming off the final turn and Jenkins realized he needed to accelerate if he was going to catch his teammate. He put his head down and dug deep with 75 to go and was able to gain a step or two back on Cheserek, but couldn’t get more than that as Cheserek streaked away to his eighth individual title. Jenkins had to settle for second while Campbell, who was in fifth with 150 to go, swung wide off the final turn and outsprinted Geoghegan and Kincaid for third.

Several runners ended up failing to finish in the warm, sunny conditions (70s and windy), notably 13:27 man Kirubel Erassaof Oklahoma State and Ivy League champ/13:33 man Thomas Awad of Penn.

Quick Take #1: This settles it: Cheserek is better than Jenkins

There was some debate about whether Jenkins’ win over Cheserek in the 3,000 indoors proved anything (Cheserek said he let Jenkins win and he also had to double back from the mile final a few hours earlier). Likewise, Wednesday’s 10,000 win by Cheserek, where Jenkins refused to give chase over the final 100, didn’t settle the “who’s better?” debate. Today did, and when you consider it as part of Cheserek’s body of work over the past two years (his win over Jenkins in the 5,000 outdoors last year and his win at NCAA XC), the evidence is clear: Cheserek is the superior runner.

Quick Take #2: Eric Jenkins put together an incredible senior year

Quick Take #1 is not meant to take anything away from Jenkins, who put together a historic senior year. Remove Cheserek from the results, and Jenkins would have almost matched Galen Rupp‘s legendary 2008-09 campaign — wins at NCAA XC, the indoor 3,000 and 5,000 and the outdoor 5,000 and 10,000 (Rupp also anchored Oregon’s winning DMR at NCAA indoors). Of course, Cheserek’s name is going to stay in the results, but Jenkins’ transition from very good runner to absolute stud has been a joy to watch this season. After Lawi Lalang‘s departure at the end of the 2014 outdoor season, most pundits agreed that no one would be able to challenge Cheserek in the distances this year. The fact that there was a legitimate debate over who would win tonight’s race shows just how far Jenkins has come since last year’s fourth-place finish, where Cheserek beat him by nine seconds.

Now Jenkins is on to USAs, where he’s got a shot to challenge for a spot on the Worlds team this summer. He said he will consider all options in weighing where to sign for his professional career. We asked him about whether the doping allegations leveled at Alberto Salazar might scare him off the Nike Oregon Project, but he said he hasn’t really given much thought to it yet as he’s been focused on this race.

Quick Take #3: Edward Cheserek is working on his American citizenship and plans to stay all four years at Oregon

Cheserek said he thinks American citizenship is “very close right now” but wouldn’t comment on exactly how close, saying he is taking it day-by-day.

Quick Take #4: Oregon rode its distance dominance to another massive team score and team title

Just like last year, coming into the meet it was expected to be a close battle between several schools for the men’s team title. Here’s Track & Field News‘ pre-meet projection:

1. Oregon, 65 points
2. Florida, 63
3. LSU, 59
3. Texas A&M, 59

Here’s what actually happened:

1. Oregon, 85
2. Florida, 56
3. Arkansas, 53
4. LSU, 45

Oregon simply crushed the field, racking up 85 points, the second-highest total since 1984. The only team with more? Last year’s Oregon squad, which scored 88. Add in the injured Devon Allen, last year’s 110 hurdles champ, and this year’s Ducks probably crack 90.

The Ducks outperformed projections in almost every event and that included the distances, where Oregon scored 47 points between the 1500, 5,000 and 10,000 thanks to big performances from true freshman Blake Haney (third in 1500) and fifth-year senior Will Geoghegan (fourth in 5,000). Even if you scored Oregon in just those three events, they still would have finished third in the team score. Cheserek and Jenkins by themselves would have been fifth.

RELEASE DATE: 06/12/2015

by Rob Moseley

Entering the final day of men's competition in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the Ducks had the ultimate ace in the hole. Or make that aces: Edward CheserekEric Jenkins and Will Geoghegan in Friday's penultimate event at Hayward Field, the 5,000 meters.

Whatever happened the rest of the day, Oregon knew it could count on big points from that trio.

What the Ducks didn't know was that, as it turned out, they wouldn't need them.

Cheserek, Jenkins and Geoghegan nearly repeated their 1-2-3 finish from the NCAA Indoor 3,000, running 1-2-4 on Friday. That gave the Ducks 23 points — in a meet they won by 29 over their closest competition. Thanks to surprising second-place finishes by Johnathan Cabral in the 110 hurdles and Marcus Chambers in the 400, Oregon had the team title all but wrapped up before the 5,000 even began.

"Great day for the Ducks," said UO coach Robert Johnson, who celebrated the Men of Oregon's second straight NCAA Outdoor title, and seventh overall. "Great day to be a Duck. Great day, all Duckies. Unbelievable performance."

Nursing a first-day lead but wary of potential SEC spoilers Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M and LSU, the host Ducks saw nearly everything go as well as expected or better. None of the competition could get on a roll the way Oregon did.

The Ducks' series of pleasant surprises began in the 1,500, as freshman Blake Haney took third. On track to redshirt midway through this season, the freshman instead capped a meteoric rise by running 3:55.12 for six points toward the team score; he became just the fourth freshman since 1999 to finish third or better in the 1,500.

Two events later, Cabral followed up Devon Allen's national title in the 110 hurdles last season by taking second, parlaying an exceptional start into a wind-aided time of 13.22. And two events after that, Chambers stayed relaxed through the windy back stretch, then unleashed a furious kick to finish second in the 400 in 45.59.

"Blake had a great race — I was excited for him," Chambers said. "And then Cabral came out and took second, ran great. That just gave me more energy for my race. We're all just doing what we can, feeding off each other."

Chambers was one of five Ducks who scored for the UO national title teams both indoors and outdoors this season. But this week's effort was much more balanced. The indoor title came largely due to Oregon's distance runners; the same can't be said of the contributions outdoors.

"We don't want to always rely on Edward Cheserek and Eric Jenkins," Chambers said. "They're great runners, we all know that. But we want to show people that other people on our team can score, too."

By the time the 5,000 runners were toeing the line for the start, only Arkansas remained a threat. The Razorbacks trailed Oregon by 18 points, with the potential to get 10 in each of the last two races.

Conceivably the Ducks could have come out of the 5,000 with no points, and thus Arkansas remained mathematically alive.

Less than 15 minutes later, those hopes were dead. Cheserek won in 13:48.67, Jenkins was second in 13:48.92 — repeating their 1-2 finish in the 10,000 on Wednesday — and Geoghegan was fourth in 13:49.35.

The duo of Cheserek and Jenkins capped a remarkable year-plus in which they helped lead Oregon to two NCAA Outdoor titles and one indoors, combining on 10 individual titles in the process if cross country is included.

"The training (together), really, it's everything," said Jenkins, a senior who ran his last collegiate race. "So when you go into races, it almost feels like another day — especially since it's a home. Coming into the last lap, when it gets tough and you see your teammates around — I've said it a thousand times and I'll say it again, you just get a sense of relaxation."

The 23 points from the 5k gave Oregon 85 for the meet — three fewer than their NCAA record set a year earlier.

Cheserek's double this week in the 5,000 and 10,000 gave him eight career individual titles — one more than the great Steve Prefontaine.

"I think it's amazing," said Cheserek, who scored for all four of Oregon's title teams over the last two years — two each indoor and outdoor. "I'm trying to write my name, to be a legend like him one day."

That day may come sooner rather than later. But Friday was about the Men of Oregon as a team, and form chart-busting efforts by the likes of Cabral and Chambers that made it a runaway for the Ducks in the NCAA Championships.