Thereís just no denying that there is no substitute for winning. The Oregon Ducks womenís track team has won three consecutive indoor track titles, but the itch to win outdoors has not been scratched since 1985.
They came close in Arkansas in 2009, losing to Texas A & M by a score of 50-43. In 2010 at Hayward Field, again it was the Aggies who rained on the Ducksí party with a 72-57 victory. Last year at Des Moines, the loss was the closest of all as Texas A & M beat the Oregon women 49-45 with a win in the last event, the 4 x 400 meter relay.
Last week in Des Moines, the Oregon women came into the meet with as much confidence as ever, but this time a different team, the LSU Tigers, overcame the Ducks 76-62.
Although there were a few disappointing performances by some UO women, it was more a case that LSU just exceeded expectations.
There were some outstanding highlights for the Oregon women. Brianne Theisen finished her stellar Oregon career by winning the heptathlon for the third, and also set a PR with 6440 points. Sophomore English Gardner came through in the clutch by winning the 100 meters, and the women ended the meet with an exclamation point by winning the 4 x 400 meter relay, and setting a new school and NCAA meet record (3.24.54). Those three performances netted the women almost half (30) of their total of 62 points.
The Ducks got a boost on the second day when freshman Allie Woodward took fifth in the 10,000 meter run for four points.
On Friday, the women scored 36 points (Theisen and Gardnerís 20 points) with sophomore Phyllis Francis scoring 4 in the 400, soph. Laura Roesler (4th) and Junior Anne Kesselring (5th) adding 9 in the 800 and soph. Lanie Thompson finishing 6th in the 3000 steeplechase for 3 more points.
Going into the last day, the Ducks were tied with LSU, but the Tigers scored 36 while the Oregon women added 22.
Junior Jordan Hasayís third place in the 1500 (6 pts.), the 4 x 100 relay teamís fourth place (Francis, Gardner, Lauryn Newson and Amber Purvis ran 43.58 for 5 pts.), senior Alex Kosinskiís eighth in the 5000 (1 pt.) and the 4 x 400 relay (10 pts.) accounted for all the Ducks scoring.
The good news was that the Women of Oregon scored the most points ever in an NCAA meet by a Ducksquad (62).
“We came out and competed hard, (LSU) came out and competed hard,” said Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna. “LSU just came out and had a great meet.”
“You always think you could have done a little better here or done something a little differently there, but in the end, 62 points – the women really had a pretty good meet. LSU just had a better one.”
Oregon’s total would have won the NCAA title five of the last seven years. Three-time defending champ Texas A&M was third with 38 points and Clemson and Kansas tied for fourth with 28.
The Ducks arrived at their final score thanks to a command performance in the 4×400 meter relay.
The team of English Gardner, Chizoba Okodogbe, Laura Roesler and Phyllis Francis won in a meet-record 3:24.54. Gardner, who became the Ducks’first NCAA 100 meter champion on Friday, led off and brought the Ducks around the oval in the lead in 50.81. Okodogbe took the next leg in 51.53 and the Ducks were second behind LSU at the halfway point.
Roesler took the third leg in 51.86, closing up on the Tigers. That left Francis to bring home the win. She reeled in LSU’s Jonique Day on the backstretch and caught her coming off the turn. Francis closed in 50.15, as the Ducks clipped the Tigers by .05.
“We knew it was going to be really close,î said Francis. ìWe really wanted it this year.”
The Ducks’ time was not only a meet record, but also a Pac-12 record and the second-fastest time in collegiate history. Only Texasí 3:23.75 from 2004 is faster than what the Ducks ran on Saturday.
So, overall, it was another very good year for the Oregon women with a third straight indoor title, a fourth straight Pac-12 championship, and a fourth straight second at the NCAAs.
With a majority of the team coming back, and the NCAA championships returning to Hayward Field, 2013 just might be the Ducksí year to get that itched scratched.