Cheserk wins 2nd indoor title

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Men’s 3,000: Edward Cheserek Is Three For Three In NCAA Championships As He Completes The Indoor 3K/5K Double

March 15, 2014

Albuquerque, NM - Coming into the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the story of the meet was Arizona’s Lawi Lalang and his attempt at a historic distance triple in the mile, 3K and 5K. However, Lalang’s triple never materialized as he finished runner-up in the 5K and the mile and scratched from the 3K, and instead, the distance story of the weekend was Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, who came away with two NCAA individual titles. He got an upset win over Lalang in the 5K, but with Lalang scratching from the 3K, Cheserek’s victory was all but assured as he blew away the field on the last lap to win in 8:11.59. Oklahoma State’s Kirubel Erassa was a respectable runner-up in 8:13.08 as Colorado freshman Ben Saarelwas 3rd (8:13.45) and BYU’s Jared Ward 4th (8:13.73).

The Race – Cheserek Controls The Last 3 Laps, Blowing Everyone Away With Another 25-Point Last 200

The race stated off very tactically with Kirubel Erassa going to the front and leading the entire first mile as he took the field through in 4:33.74. He was trailed by Oregon’s Parker Stinson, Trevor Dunbar, Edward Cheserek as well as the rest of the field running in a tight pack.

After a slow first mile, the runners in the field began to make surges for position and the pace picked up incrementally as they ran the next 800 in 2:11. Stinson took the lead for 400 after the mile and then with 800 to go Dunbar took control leading Erassa and Cheserek in 2nd and 3rd with all the other runners bunched up behind as the pace started to pick up a bit with 3 laps to go

Then before 400 to go, Cheserek had moved into the lead and started to ratchet up the pace as Jared Ward had moved into second, with Dunbar, Erassa and the rest of the field all still bunched up right there. Cheserek then ran the penultimate lap in 29.87 before absolutely demolishing the field by running a 25.79 last 200 to win in 8:11.59 over Erassa, who had the third-fastest last lap and took second in 8:13.08 while Ben Saarel had the fastest last lap outside of Cheserek (27.09) and got 3rd (8:13.45). Ward finished 4th (8:13.73) and Dunbar 5th (8:14.13) as 2nd-10th palce finished within less than 2 seconds of each other.

Quick Thought #1 – What A Weekend For Edward Cheserek: After this weekend one thing is clear: you should never doubt Edward Cheserek. A shocking upset victory in the 5,000 over 13:00 man Lalang, followed by a dominant win in the 3,000, once again crushing the field with a 25-second last lap. After this race Cheserek is now 3 for 3 in NCAA championship races as he won XC, the 5K and now the 3K. He also remains undefeated on the track in his collegiate career. If Lalang doesn’t beat him outdoors, the question moving forward could be, “Will Cheserek ever lose a collegiate track race?”

Post-race Cheserek said he just wanted to relax until two-laps to go and make his move then. Asked if he was disappointed that Lalang scratched, Cheserek said that he was actually looking forward to facing him again in the 3K.

QT #2 – Slow Even For Altitude: Using the NCAA altitude conversion for Albuquerque, Cheserek’s 8:11.59 is worth  7:59.49. So still a slow, tactical race even factoring in the altitude.

QT #3 – Oregon Teamwork: Looking at the lap splits from Flash Results, you can see that after the first mile a runner from Oregon was leading at all times. Stinson lead for 2-laps, then Dunbar and finally Cheserek crushed it home.

QT #4 – No Shame In Second: Kirubel Erassa was happy with his runner-up finish today acknowledging he just got beat by someone who’s better. Erassa said he saw video of Cheserk’s 25-second last 200 from the night before and knew that kick was coming. Erassa said this race was definitely redemption after the disappointing DMR from last night where OSU dropped the baton and finished in last place as he thought his team would have finished 2nd or 3rd there at the worst.


Cheserek, Johnson Earn USTFCCCA National Awards
Cheserek is the first freshman to win the award, and the first Duck on the men's side to win since Galen Rupp in 2009.
Release: 03/19/2014
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NEW ORLEANS – The nation’s indoor track & field coaches have voted, and the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) has named Oregon freshman Edward Cheserek the Division I Men’s National Athlete of the Year and Oregon head coach Robert Johnson both the Division I Men’s and Women’s National Coach of the Year.

Cheserek (Newark, N.J.) swept both the 3000 and 5000 meters events at the NCAA Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., this past weekend – including taking the 5000 meters crown from The Bowerman Finalist Lawi Lalang of Arizona, the collegiate record holder in the event – to lead his Ducks to the national team title.

He outkicked the defending indoor mile and 3000 meter champion in the final two laps to earn the convincing win in 13:46.67 by more than six seconds over Lalang, who had been the winner of the past two indoor National Track Athlete of the Year awards. The next day he defeated Kirubel Erassa of Oklahoma State over 3000 meters with another late-race kick to win by two seconds in 8:11.59.

Cheserek is the first freshman to win the award, and the first Duck on the men’s side to win since Galen Rupp in 2009.

Johnson claimed both the National Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year honors after leading his men to their first title since 2009 and the women to their fifth consecutive national team crown. The men outscored 2013 champion Arkansas, 62-54, while the women just barely edged past Texas, 44-43½.

While the men’s team title was clinched well before the meet finale 4×400 relay, the women’s championship hung in the balance all the way until literally the final hundredths of a second of the meet. It was at the finish line of the 4×400 where Phyllis Francis leaned in ahead of Texas’ Ashley Spencer to win the race in 3:27.40 by just .02 and the meet by just half a point.

Johnson saw a number of his Ducks win national individual titles, including Cheserek (3000/5000), Francis (400) and Laura Roesler (800). Cheserek was named the Men’s Indoor National Field Athlete of the Year for his efforts.

This is Johnson’s fourth consecutive year earning the Women’s Indoor National Coach of the Year honor, and he was also named Women’s Indoor National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Freshman star Edward Cheserek and the Oregon men put it away early, and the UO women waited until the very last step.

But both left the Albuquerque Convention Center with national championships Saturday in a can-you-believe-this finish to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships before a crowd of 1,272.

This never was on ice for the UO women, who arrived in New Mexico seeking a fifth consecutive NCAA indoor title, and were playing from behind almost from the moment their airplane touched down on the runway.

They dug a hole for themselves on Friday, and it got worse on Saturday when U.S. junior record-holder Sasha Wallace hit the fourth hurdle, crashed hard to the track and didn't finish the race.

Suddenly, the odds looked steep to everybody not wearing a black Oregon uniform.

"We had the best 400-meter runner in the country, the best 800-meter runner in the country, the best 4-by-4 in the country," Roesler said, treating the question contempt. "You can't count out a team with that much talent."

Still, the UO women were sitting in fourth place with one event to go, the 4x400-meter relay.

Georgia led with 40.5 points. Florida and Texas were tied for second with 35.5, followed by the Ducks with 34.

Florida, Texas and Oregon all had teams entered in the 4x400. Georgia did not. Texas had come to the meet with the indoor season's best 4x400 time this year.

 "I went back and told the girls, winner takes all," Johnson said of his last minute instructions to his 4x400 team of Chizoba Okodogbe, Roesler, and Phyllis Francis.

 Francis – who had set the U.S. indoor record while winning the 400 less than two hours earlier – got the baton in second place and spent most of her two-lap, anchor leg chasing Texas anchor Ashley Spencer.

 Spencer still had a lead of several meters coming off the curve and onto the home straight. Francis went wide, the crowd got loud and just before the finish line Francis pulled even. At the line she leaned.

"Coach told me we would be behind a little bit," Francis said of what she expected as she received the baton. "Then, on the home stretch, I was supposed to make a move. But I thought I was too late for a moment."

A hush fell over the crowd until, after a stage pause, Oregon's name went up on the official scoreboard with a time of 3 minutes, 27.40 seconds followed by Texas in 3:27.42. The UO time broke the college record of 3:27.66 set by the Longhorns in 2003.

Francis didn't see it at first. She didn't know the Ducks had pulled out both the race and the title until Roesler wrapped her in a bear hug.

Could it get any closer? Oregon finished with 44 points. Texas was second with 43.5.

It was the moment of the meet, but there were other memory-makers along the way:

-- Cheserek, who must have ice water in his veins to go with that killer kick, broke away on the final lap to win the men's 3,000 meters in 8 minutes, 11.59 seconds.

On Friday, the UO freshman dusted the supposedly unbeatable Lawi Lalang of Arizona in the 5,000. Lalang scratched out of the 3,000, and there wasn't anybody else in the field who had a chance of flagging down Cheserek when he opened it up in the final 150.

Cheserek now has run in three NCAA championship races, including the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships, and won them all. UO senior Trevor Dunbar slipped in for fifth place in the 3,000. Those 14 team points essentially locked away the UO men's first NCAA indoor title since 2009.

In the end, the Ducks had 62 points. Arkansas was second with 54. Pre-meet favorite Florida was a distant third with 35. Twenty Oregon points came from Cheserek.

"He's incredible," Dunbar said. "I wasn't surprised. I would have liked to see him take down Lawi Lalang again, because I know he would have."

-- Francis smashed the U.S. indoor record in the 400 meters with a runaway victory in 50.46 seconds.

Francena McCorory set the record of 50.54 in 2010, and held it until Francis left it in tatters. Her winning time would have claimed the World Indoor Championships earlier this month in Sopot, Poland.

"This is something we've been telling, preaching to Phyllis since she was a sophomore," Johnson said. "She's a special kid. It's great that she's finally starting to realize that."

-- Roesler broke wide with a decisive move on the last lap's back straight and won the 800 going away in 2:03.85.

She came across the finish line with a smile on her face, only to have the UO coaches hustle her out of the clerk's circle to get her ready for the 4x400.

"I walked to the back, changed uniforms and sat down and waited for the 4x4," Roesler said. "I honestly haven't had time to process or celebrate the 800."

The UO women were supposed to win, although perhaps not to turn the finish into such a cliffhanger. The Oregon men weren't even in the title discussion until they hung 24 first-day team points on the scoreboard.

The Ducks picked up where they left off on Saturday, with multi-events specialist Dakotah Keys going from sixth to fourth in the heptathlon standings in the last event of the seven-event competition, the 1,000 meters.

Keys clocked a time of 2:42.67 in the process to score in a national meet for the first time as a college athlete. It got the Ducks rolling.

"I could barely sleep because I was thinking about it," said Keys, who got a pre-competition pep talk from senior distance runner Parker Stinson.

"Parker said, 'Hey, keep the fire going, because it's hard to put out.' That's all I wanted to do today is just keep building the fire."

Mac Fleet came across third in the mile, Johnathan Cabral was fourth in the 60 hurdles and Mike Berry was fourth in the 400 as the Ducks kept rolling all the way to the title.

"We thought we were a little bit under-ranked," Johnson said. "We thought we were better than what the scoring tables and all the dope sheets had us."

So they were. The men won decisively. The women showed a flair for the dramatic.

And in the end, left with won titles.

-- Ken Goe