May 6, 2016
by Rob Moseley
Photo: Eric Evans
On an evening when alumni provided the star power, current members of the UO track and field team weren’t to be overlooked Friday night in the Oregon Twilight meet — and a future Duck made her presence felt, too.
UO recruit Katie Rainsberger ran the fifth-fastest 1,500 meters ever by a U.S. high school girl, crossing in 4 minutes, 14.20 seconds to finish second behind four-time USA Outdoor champion Treniere Moser (4:13.59). Rainsberger crossed just ahead of Oregon alumna Jordan Hasay, in a field that also included Ducks Frida Berge, Emma Abrahamson and Brianna Nerud.
In the final week before the postseason begins, the men’s 4×100 team put together a new quartet of runners, who in turn put together a season-best time. The Ducks also had some individuals get themselves seemingly off the bubble for NCAA Regionals qualification, and Brittany Mann tied her school record in the shot put of 56 feet, 6 3/4 inches.
The 4×100 team of Christian Sourapas, Devon Allen, Travonn White and Marcus Chambers was formulated just recently from the pool of runners the Ducks have raced over the course of the spring. They found out what order they’d run less than an hour before Friday’s race, before turning in a meet-record 39.61 seconds.
Despite the late notice, White said he predicted something around 39.6 — which ended up giving them the fifth-fastest time in UO history.
“We just went with it,” Allen said. “We’ve got a week to practice for Pac-12s, and we’re going to put together a fast time.”
Edward Cheserek returned to competition for the first time since the Pepsi Invitational on April 9. He ran the 3,000 on Friday, finishing in 7:57.26 to place second in the field.
“I just wanted to get out here again, get my legs moving,” Cheserek said. “I feel OK, just getting ready for Pac12s, to go out and help the team.”
Rainsberger also crossed in second, dueling with Moser down the stretch before crossing as the runnerup. Rainsberger also participated in the Oregon Relays at Hayward Field, but if she had any anxiety about racing on her future home track, it didn’t show.
“I think it’s easy to succumb to nerves, but that’s part of racing,” she said. “You have to go into it with the attitude of, what can I do, and then the results will come.”
Among the Ducks to improve their ranking for regionals was freshman Matthew Maton in the 1,500.
Racing for the third time in nine days, Maton broke into the top 48 in the west region by winning Friday in 3:42.68.
“I needed to get some races under my belt,” Maton said. “It was good. That’s a good starting point.”
Teammate Chris Brewer was second in 3:44.56, also lifting him into good shape for regional qualifying. In the pole vault, Matt Hidalgo improved his season best by more than 6 inches to 16-11 1/2, and Jackson Darland helped himself by running the 3,000 steeplechase in 9:00.22.
“This was kind of their last opportunity to put their best foot forward,” UO coach Robert Johnson said. “I often say to our group, a little Floyd Mayweather (quote): ‘Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.’ This was a great opportunity to go out and put some numbers down.”
Johnson and the UO staff will now go about formulating the teams of 28 men and 28 women that will compete next week at the Pac-12 Championships. Johnson said 37 male athletes are under consideration for the 28 spots, illustrating some of the tough decisions that must be made.
Among the highlights provided Friday night by alumni was a duel to the finish of the men’s 400 between Mike Berry and Ashton Eaton.
Both men needed a little extra time getting to the post-race interview area, after emptying the tanks in their race. Berry crossed first in 45.56, and Eaton was second in 45.78, each faster than the previous meet record.
“We both got excited, I guess,” Berry said. “We both wanted to make it competitive. We wanted to put on a show for the great fans at Hayward Field.”
Former UO athletes each completed sprint doubles Friday. Arthur Delaney won the men’s 100 in 10.18 and the 200 in 20.23. On the women’s side, 400 school-record holder Phyllis Francis won the 100 in 11.34 and the 200 in 22.77, races she said will pay dividends in her primary distance later this season.
“I’m working on starting out a lot faster,” Francis said. “I thought this would be good practice. And I also thought it would be fun, so why not?”