May 15, 2016
Seattle, Wash. – The streak of Oregon’s Pac-12 dominance continued on Sunday, as the men’s and women’s track and field team swept the conference meet for the eighth straight year at Husky Track on the University of Washington campus.
Each of the team wins marked historic feats, as the men tied UCLA for the most in conference history, at 17. The women, who have extended their streak to eight years, took sole possession of the longest reign in conference history, a feat the men accomplished last season with their ninth straight.
Oregon received some star-studded performances including Athlete of the Meet honors for Hannah Cunliffe and Devon Allen, but it was again the depth of the Ducks that earned 155.60 points on the men’s side and 185 for the women.
Cunliffe’s homecoming to Seattle was a success, as the Federal Way, Wash., native won all three events in which she was entered. The sophomore won the open 100 (11.08) and 200 (22.49) and joined Jasmine Todd, Deajah Stevens and Ariana Washington in a 4×100 win, just missing the school record they set earlier in the season and finishing in 42.71.
“I was happy that I’m in my home town and my family was here, so that was great support that always helps,” Cunliffe said. “To win all three, that’s just a great feeling.”
It was the fact that Stevens and Washington were always to next to Cunliffe on the awards stand that allowed the Oregon women to win going away, finishing 73.5 points ahead of second-place USC. The trio did something that had never been done before in Pac-12 history by sweeping the top three spots in both the women’s 100 and 200. Oregon also extended another streak, winning the women’s 100 at the conference meet for the seventh-straight year.
Allen has already shown versatility by competing on both the football field and track at Oregon, and only added another layer on Sunday, winning the 110 hurdles and 200, while also taking third in the 100 and third as part of the 4×100 team. The redshirt sophomore scored a total of 27.5 points on a busy two days, similar to the stunning outings he put in at Hayward Field earlier in the season.
Oregon head coach Robert Johnson said that the performances from both athletes were made possible by a plan put in place early on in the season.
“It was a great day for Hannah, this was a homecoming for her, being from Federal Way,” Johnson said. “And we’ve kind of been talking about this all along with Devon, for months out, knowing that this was going to be the plan and the preparation that goes along with that. For them to come out and execute what we put on paper long ago is always exciting.”
Allen was joined by Marcus Chambers who finished third in the 200 and repeated his Championship performance in the 400 with a season best and winning time of 45.94, all after anchoring the men’s 4×100 to start the day on the track. Chambers rallied late with what has become a signature finish for the junior.
“I knew when the time was right I’d be able to kick at the end,” Chambers said. “It was a great game plan and it worked out.”
The women continued the trend of the Ducks, sporting their all-white uniforms for the first time, in the front of the pack. Raevyn Rogers and Annie Leblanc took the top two spots in the 800 and the duo of Sasha Wallace and Alayasha Johnson finished first and third in the 100 hurdles, respectively. Wallace and Leblanc each notched a third-place finish as well. Wallace left the triple jump early after the preliminary rounds with a mark of 41-9.75 (12.74m) to assume her duties in the hurdles while Leblanc made a strong charge in the final stretch of the 1,500 to lead Lilli Burdon and Ashley Maton as Oregon’s top scorer in 4:18.70.
The Oregon women entered the day with a sizeable lead over the field after performances in the 10,000, javelin and shot put on Saturday, but the men’s team had ground to make up as they trailed Washington. The Ducks went head-to-head with the Dawgs in key middle distance events where Oregon came up with crucial points that kept their hopes a 10th-straight title alive.
In the 1,500, freshman Matthew Maton continued his late-season surge with a second place finish in 3:39.97. He was followed by Sam Prakel in third with a personal best of 3:40.11 and Chris Brewer who finished seventh in 3:44.35. Meanwhile Grant Grosvenor was the 800-meter runner-up with a big personal best of 1:47.72, finishing ahead of two Washington opponents who had combined to take home the last two 800-meter crowns.
It was a big day for the throwers on Saturday that set up finals day and the group added five more scorers on Sunday. Madeline Middlebrooks and Brittany Mann started the day with fourth- and eighth-place finishes in the hammer throw respectively. Middlebrooks set a personal best 189-5 (57.73) which is fifth in Oregon history and a regional qualifying mark.
Itohan AIkhionbare finished eighth in the women’s discus while Drake Brennan and Cullen Prena went 7-8 in the men’s discus. Aikhionbare, who recently gain Belizian citizenship, set national records in the shot put and discus over the weekend.
By the time the men’s and women’s 5,000 competitions began, the Ducks had the meet in hand, but the Ducks received some additional points from each. Jake Leingang set a personal best of 13:43.04 to finish fifth followed by Jeramy Elkaim in eighth with a time of 13:57.06.
Alli Cash put in a gutsy performance during the women’s race, taking the lead in the final two laps before ultimately finishing fourth in 16:14.25, closing out a strong showing from the women’s distance group.
All that was left for the Ducks to do then was celebrate as they have for the past eight seasons.
Next up for the Ducks is the road to the NCAA Championships which first goes through Lawrence, Kan., for the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds, May 26-28 before returning to Hayward Field June 8-11. NCAA Preliminary round entries will be announced on Thursday, May 19.