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Oregon takes top two spots in men's NCAA cross country championships; Portland men finish third

Published Jan 01, 0001

Edward Cheserek, a sophomore, repeated as national champion by winning in 30:19, while Eric Jenkins used a strong finishing kick to finish second in 30:23.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Oregon's Edward Cheserek and Eric Jenkins frequently trained together during the summer and they quickly decided on an ambitious goal: finish the season as the nation's top runners.

The duo backed up those thoughts during the NCAA Championships at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course on Saturday with a historic performance.

Cheserek, a sophomore, repeated as national champion, running the 10K course in 30:19. He became the first Oregon runner to win back-to-back championships since Steve Prefontaine in 1970-71.

Jenkins used a strong finishing kick to finish second in 30:23. It's the first time Oregon had runners finish 1-2 in the individual standings of the national championships.

The historic day for area runners wasn't limited to Cheserek and Jenkins. Portland finished third in the men's team standings, the highest finish in the program's history.

"We're continuing to do things that are unprecedented or haven't been done in a long time," Oregon coach Robert Johnson said. "You can't say enough about (Cheserek and Jenkins) being able to do that."

The men's race had a modest pace during the first 5,000 meters, with roughly 70 runners all within three seconds of one another at the midway point.

That pace was fine with Cheserek, who had a simple plan in place. He was going to let the main pack set the pace and try to bring along his Oregon teammates closer to the front before breaking away at the 8K mark.

"I didn't even worry about the time," Cheserek said. "I just wanted to be smart, run smart, and focus on getting ready to go out at that 8K."

The only caveat to Cheserek's plan would be if someone broke away too much. Nobody did -- at least until Cheserek with 2K remaining in the race.

And much like he did last year, Cheserek could be seen looking over his shoulder to see who was behind him. And just like last year, nobody threatened him during the final stretch of the race.

But when Cheserek looked over his shoulder during the last 100 meters of the race, he was looking to see if Jenkins was going to hold off Northern Arizona's Futsum Zienasellassie.

Jenkins was in second coming down the final straight away, but he was passed with about 200 meters remaining. He responded by outkicking Zienasellassie to earn the second-place finish.

"When he passed me I was like, 'You know what, not today,' " Jenkins said. "I didn't put in all of this work to reach the last straight away and get passed in the final 200 meters."

Portland made its own history with a third-place finish in the team standings with 175 points. Top-ranked Colorado won the team championship with 65 points, while Stanford was second with 98 and Oregon was sixth with 221.

The Pilots were led by senior Scott Fauble, who finished 12th in 30:34. Classmate Reid Buchanan was 28th in 30:46, and Timo Goehler was 44th in 31:02.

Portland coach Rob Conner was visibly emotional when discussing his program's best-ever NCAA Championships finish.

"I really am because it's a culmination of a long time and a lot of energy," Conner said.

But don't expect reaching the nationals as a team to be a one-time deal, Conner said. Portland returns two runners from Saturday's lineup, including sophomore Danny Martinez, who finished 59th.

"That's a really nice nucleus for a return trip to the nationals -- guaranteed," the Portland coach said. "That's the goal every year. You'll never heard of some of these guys (next year), but they're ready. They've been in the program for two or three years, but they're ready to get us to the nationals."

In the women's race, Oregon finished sixth in the team standings with its top five runners all finishing within 10 seconds of one another. Four of them will return next season. Freshman Alli Cash was the Ducks' top finisher, placing 59th after running the 6K course in 20:56.

"They're all right there together and to be able to run that close without a really low stick -- that kind of caught up to us today," Johnson said. "But the women are really young and a lot of those girls will be back next year."

Portland senior Tansey Lystand finished 15th in 20:19.

-- Brian Peloza

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The Oregon Ducks and University of Portland aim for top finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships

Published Jan 01, 0001

The UO men will have to find a way past No. 1 Colorado to win the title.

BBMLUQCZJEWNCKG.20130910234948.jpgEdward Cheserek 

Buoyed by their Big Two of Edward Cheserek and Eric Jenkins, the third-ranked Oregon Ducks will take aim at the NCAA men's cross country title Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind.

Cheserek, the defending individual champion, and Jenkins went 2-3 while pacing the Ducks to last week's NCAA West Regional Championship.

The No. 3 Oregon women and No. 7 University of Portland men also are primed for high finishes in the meet, which will be held at the LaVern Gibson Course.

No. 1-ranked Colorado, the Pac-12 champion, is favored to win the men's title, but the Ducks will be in the picture if they can find help for Cheserek and Jenkins. Should Cheserek repeat as individual champion, it would be the fifth NCAA title for Oregon's standout sophomore.

The UP men, paced by fourth-place finisher Scott Fauble, qualified automatically as a team for the NCAA meet by finishing second to Oregon in the West Regional. UP coach Rob Conner was named West Region coach of the year this week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The Pilots also will be represented by senior Tansey Lystad, who qualified by finishing sixth in the West Regional women's race.

The UO women won the West Regional team title, although they rely more on depth than dominant individuals.

The University of Portland will hold a watch party on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the Chiles Center Hall of Fame Room.

-- Ken Goe | @KenGoe

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Summit star runner Matthew Maton commits to Oregon Ducks

Published Jan 01, 0001

Oregon high school cross country record holder will run both track and XC for Ducks

He took an official visit to Boulder and the University of Colorado, but his heart told him he needed to be closer to home.

Summit's Matthew Maton, the reigning Class 5A state cross country champ, announced his commitment to the University of Oregon through his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon.

After a long process glad to finally announce I'll be running the next 4-5years at oregon!#skoducks

— matthew maton (@matthewmaton1) November 20, 2014

Rather than join the top-ranked Buffaloes in Boulder, Maton said "he didn't feel comfortable living so far from home."

He will join former Storm teammate Travis Neuman as a member of the Ducks. Matthew's sister, Ashley, is on the women's cross country team as well.

Maton laid waste to the field in this year's 5A cross country meet, shattering Central Catholic star Galen Rupp's course record by 10 seconds at Lane Community College in Eugene. Maton covered the 5,000-meter course in 14 minutes, 45 seconds.

Maton said he will run both track and cross country for the Ducks. Both the men's and women's team won their respective team titles at the NCAA West Regional in Stanford, Calif. on Saturday. Edward Cheserek led the Ducks with a second-place finish in the race.

The No. 3 Ducks are set to compete in the NCAA national meet Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Maton still has his senior year on the high school track left, where he is the reigning 5A champ in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters.

-- Billy Gates | @GatesOnSports

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TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna will refocus after the IAAF rejects Eugene's bid for the 2019 World Outdoor Championships

Published Jan 01, 0001

Lananna said he is undecided about trying again in 2021.

TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna was disappointed but philosophical after the IAAF decided Tuesday in Monaco to award the 2019 World Outdoor Championships to Doha, the capital city of Qatar.

"I thought we had a fantastic story to tell," Lananna said, speaking by phone from Monaco shortly after the IAAF Council announced its decision. "It was an ambitious story."

The IAAF, the governing body of international track & field, picked Doha over finalists Barcelona and Eugene.

TrackTown USA is the local organizing committee, which spearheaded Eugene's bid.

IAAF president Lamine Diack said the 27-member council took two ballots to reach a decision, with Doha prevailing over Eugene 15-12 on the second ballot.

"Of course I'm disappointed," Lananna said. "We made a fantastic bid. We had a fantastic team that came with us. It was an incredible collaboration with a whole bunch of agencies and partners that it hasn't always been easy to get collaboration with."

Lananna said he is undecided about whether to lead another bid for the 2021 IAAF World Championships.

"I don't think I can answer that question right now," he said. "Who knows? For now we're concentrating on the next six or seven years, between the NCAAs, the renovation of Hayward Field and the World Indoor Championships in Portland in 2016."

Eugene will play host to the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field through at least 2021.

The 2015 USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships and the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for track & field are scheduled for Eugene.

TrackTown USA will stage the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in the Portland Convention Center.

"I'm very excited about that," Lananna said. "I will be directing my attention there."

A successful bid for the 2019 World Outdoor Championships would have required a major renovation of Hayward Field. The University of Oregon's track stadium has a listed capacity of 10,500, far short of the 30,000-seat IAAF minimum, and is lacking in many amenities.

Lananna said the renovation would go forward.

"We clearly need to take that crown jewel of the sport, that centerpiece, and modernize it," Lananna said.

He said no timeline for the renovation has been set.

"We have to engage a lot of stakeholders, the people who use the facility and would use it regardless of whether we received the bid," Lananna said. "We have to make sure we cater to the needs of the people who practice there, the home meets, the Prefontaine Classics, and the NCAAs."

Lananna said he remained bullish on Eugene's potential for holding major track & field events.

"Eugene has all the passion and enthusiasm," he said.

-- Ken Goe | @KenGoe

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The IAAF Council awards the 2019 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships to Doha

Published Jan 01, 0001

Eugene's bid is not accepted.

(UPDATED with reaction from TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna.)

Doha, the capital city of Qatar was selected Tuesday to play host to the 2019 IAAF World Outdoor Championships.

The 27-member IAAF Council, which governs international track & field, made the decision after deliberating for about two hours.

The council picked Doha over Eugene and Barcelona.

All three cities made final presentations before the council, which then retired to deliberate and vote.

IAAF president Lamine Diack said that none of three cities had the required 14 votes on the first ballot. Barcelona was eliminated. Doha won on the second ballot with 15 votes.

Among the Eugene presenters were TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna, world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix.

Lananna told the council members: "Destiny is calling. America is waiting. Eugene is ready."

Lananna and the TrackTown USA organizing committee apparently waited in vain for this, but still have plenty to do in the weeks and months ahead.

They will stage the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in the Portland Convention Center and the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for Track & Field in Eugene at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field.

On the immediate horizon are the 2015 NCAA Track & Field Outdoor Championships and the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships.

In a statement released by TrackTown USA, Lananna praised the effort that Eugene made.

"We made a bold attempt with an audacious vision for this event and we will continue to partner with USA Track & Field in attracting other major events to the U.S.," Lananna said. "I have no doubt that the U.S. will field another fantastic track and field team in the summer of 2019, and we look forward to welcoming the world to Portland in the spring of 2016."

The obvious issues with Eugene's bid for the 2019 World Outdoor Championships concerned infrastructure.

Hayward Field needs a major renovation to meet minimum IAAF requirements.

The population of Eugene's metropolitan area 351,715 is much smaller than cities that have staged or will stage the championships. The city's hotel space is limited.

In a statement released by USA Track & Field, USATF CEO Max Siegel said: "The United States congratulates Doha on securing the 2019 IAAF World Championships. We look forward to Team USA competing in Doha against the best athletes in the world. We thank President Diack, IAAF Council and IAAF bid evaluation commission for considering our bid and for the tremendous collaboration the IAAF showed throughout this process."

-- Ken Goe | @KenGoe

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