Cheserek Powers Ducks to NCAA Bid

Cheserek Powers Ducks to NCAA Bid

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Freshman Edward Cheserek claimed his third individual victory of the season to lead the Men of Oregon to a second place finish Friday at the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships.

By virtue of their second place finish, the men automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships Nov. 23 in Terre Haute, Ind.

Meanwhile, the Duck women positioned themselves well to earn an NCAA at-large bid by finishing third. At-large bids will be announced by noon Pacific on Saturday.

"All in all, it was a good meet for the Men and Women of Oregon," said head coach Robert Johnson. "The men did what they needed to do to qualify, and we feel that the women, based on their finish today and entire their body of work, are in pretty good standing for an at-large bid." No. 6 Stanford won the men's 10,000 meter race, which was held at Haggin Oaks Golf Course, with 53 points, followed by No. 4 Oregon with 64, No. 10 Portland with 92, Boise State with 117 and No. 28 Arizona State with 184.

Oregon's Parker Stinson lead the field early in the race before Cheserek eventually joined and then passed his teammate. Cheserek was never threatened in the later stages of the race and won in 29:35. A native of Kenya who prepped in New Jersey, Cheserek also won the Pac-12 Championship and the Boston College XC Invitational this fall.

"I'm not sure we fully appreciate how special this young man is," said Johnson. "He keeps getting stronger each race because he's humble, yet hungry and has an incredible drive to be the best."

Stinson, a senior from Austin, Texas, took fifth in 29:51.

Other scorers for the Ducks included senior Mac Fleet in 13th (29:58), junior Tanguy Pepiot in 19th (30:12) and freshman Jake Leingang in 28th (30:30).

Oregon also had sophomore Matthew Melancon place 37th in 30:39 and junior Cole Watson 43rd in 30:44.

In the women's 6,000 meter race, top-ranked Arizona won with 84 points, followed by No. 18 Stanford with 94, the 15th-ranked Ducks with 120, No. 17 San Francisco with 140, No. 12 Washington with 162 and No. 26 Arizona State with 175. As many as six women's teams from the exceptionally strong West Region could advance to the NCAA Championships.

For the first time this season, Molly Grabill led the Ducks. The sophomore, from Poway, Calif., finished 14th in 19:11.

She was backed by fellow sophomore Annie Leblanc, who was 17th in 20:04.

"It was good for Molly to step up and lead us today, as we continue to work together running in a pack," said Johnson. "Annie had a nice effort too. She made a big move with about 600 meters remaining to pass a lot of people."

The Ducks also had freshman Maggie Schmaedick in 25th (20:16), sophomore Abbey Leonardi in 31st (20:22) and junior Megan Patrignelli 33rd (20:25).

Boise State's Emma Bates was the women's individual winner in 19:11. Bates won the Bill Dellinger Invitational earlier this fall.

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