Cheserek wins back-to-back Pac-12 cc titles

OAKLAND, Calif. — Edward Cheserek became the third Oregon runner to win back-to-back Pac-12 cross country titles, and the Duck women also took their place atop the podium at the conference championship meet Friday morning at the Metropolitan Links Golf Course in Oakland, Calif.

Cheserek led the No. 2 Oregon men’s 1-2 finish with a time of 23 minutes, 23 seconds in the 8,000-meter race. Senior Eric Jenkins took second place in 23:34.

With the victory, Cheserek joined Steve Prefontaine and Jim Hill as the only Ducks who have won consecutive Pac-12 titles. It was also the seventh straight cross country win for the sophomore, dating back to the 2013 Pac-12 meet.

Unlike previous races, Cheserek made his move early, pulling clear of the field with 3,000 meters to go and was never challenged.

“That was the plan; to go with about two miles left and just try to finish hard,” Cheserek said. “I felt pretty good today and so I just went for it. Of course it’s an honor to win, but I’m really excited for Eric (Jenkins) finishing second and just really proud of how hard my teammates ran today.”

Despite the performance from Cheserek and Jenkins, the Ducks were unable to prevent No. 1 Colorado from winning its fourth straight team title. The Buffaloes’ five scorers had a 4-5-6-7-8 finish for 30 points. The Ducks had 57 points.

Oregon’s other scorers were Matthew Melancon (15th), Daniel Winn (16th) and Cole Watson (23rd).

The No. 3 Oregon women executed their pack-running style to perfection on Friday, scoring 54 points for the ninth Pac-12 title and second in three years. Second-place Stanford had 74 points.

Freshman Frida Berge led the way for the Ducks with a sixth-place finish in the 6,000-meter race.

Berge’s time was 20:25, followed by Waverly Neer (10th), Molly Grabill (11th), Alli Cash (12th) and Maggie Schmaedick (15th), with only 11 seconds separating Berge and Schmaedick.

“Overall it was a great day for the Ducks,” Oregon coach Robert Johnson said.

“The women executed the same race plan that we’ve used all year and it really came together today. The men still have a little work to do, but that was a really impressive performance by Cheserek and Jenkins going 1-2 like that.”

The women’s individual winner was Arizona State’s Shelby Houlihan in 19:59.

In fourth place was Colorado sophomore Erin Clark. The former South Eugene High School standout finished in 20:19.

Oregon State finished 12th in the women’s race, with sophomore Holly Cavalluzo leading the way with a 61st-place finish in 21:41.