Michael Berry continued his star-turn freshman season with a new school record, and Matthew Centrowitz successfully captured his third consecutive 1,500-meter title at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships, held Friday and Saturday in Drachman Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.
The Oregon men, in turn, won the Pac-10 team title for the fifth-consecutive year, coming up big when it mattered for the team. The Ducks scored 129 points; Arizona finished second with 112, followed by a three-team tie at 99 (USC, UCLA, Arizona State).
No one came up bigger when it mattered than Berry, the freshman from Seattle. He won the 400 meters in a personal-best 44.91 seconds, breaking Otis Davis’ 51-year-old school record of 45.07. No one in the United States has run a faster time this outdoor season. Berry capped off his meet by anchoring the Oregon mile relay to a fourth-place finish (3:07.21).
Centrowitz, a senior from Arnold, Md., held off Lawi Lalang of Arizona to win the 1,500 meters in a season-best 3:41.73, becoming the fourth man in conference history to accomplish the three-peat. Senior A.J. Acosta added to the goodwill with a seventh-place finish (3:49.42).
The very first contested running final set the tone for the Ducks’ ability to rise above expectations — the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Senior transfer Steve Finley attacked the final 200 meters of the Friday race to win in 9:04.62, nearly half a second ahead of Benjamin Johnson of Stanford.
Friday was a particularly good day for the Ducks in the field events, as well. Vernell Warren (24 feet, 9 inches) and David Klech (24-6) finished second and third in the long jump, respectively. Senior transfer Justin Frick placed fourth in the high jump (7 feet, 1.5 inches), and Oregon earned six points in the javelin from Alex Wolff (fifth; 225 feet, 9 inches) and Ethan Powell (seventh, 204-3).
In his first outdoor 10,000-meter race of the season, junior Luke Puskedra finished fifth in 29:35.67, the first of three Ducks — including freshman Parker Stinson (seventh, 29:55.44) and senior Danny Mercado (eighth, 29:58.78) — to score in the event.
Puskedra came back at the 5,000 meters with a fourth-place finish, in 14:02.62; Mercado finished in eighth place, in 14:18.73.
Sophomore Austin Ouderkirk was a surprise Pac-10 runner-up in the pole vault, clearing a personal-best 16 feet, 9.5 inches. Jordan Stray in the hammer (219 feet, 7 inches) and Brian Schaudt in the triple jump (51 feet, 8.5 inches) added a pair of third place finishes, with both marks No. 8 in school history in their respective events.
Women capture title in last event, Gardner stars
Lose your top-ranked 4×100-meter relay squad to disqualification? Trail host Arizona by as many as 57 1/2 points?
Not a problem, apparently, for the No. 3 Oregon women.
The Ducks’ mile relay won in a meet-record 3:29.63 to score 10 points and take home a third-consecutive Pac-10 championship. Oregon finished with 154.5 points in holding off the Wildcats (150), Arizona State (121) and USC (103).
English Gardner, the freshman from Voorhees, N.J., was the star of the meet for the Ducks, obliterating her own school record in the 100-meter dash by winning the Pac-10 final in 11.03 seconds. The mark is an American junior record (best by an athlete under age 20) as well as a meet record.
Amber Purvis, Gardner and Mandy White then delivered a controlling performance in the women’s 200-meter final, finishing second, third, and sixth, respectively.
Sophomore Jordan Hasay won individual titles at 1,500 meters (4:19.18) and 5,000 meters (16:24.10) as Oregon made its comeback push. The Ducks earned 24 points in the 1,500 meters off the performances of Anne Kesselring (third, 4:21.36), Becca Friday (fourth, 4:25.03) and Megan Patrignelli (sixth, 4:28.22) in addition to Hasay.
Oregon had a productive first day, with a 2-3-6 finish in the pole vault and a 2-3-7 finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Jamesha Youngblood finished second in the long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 3.25 inches, coming back on Saturday to finish third in the triple jump (42 feet, 3.5 inches).
Freshman Laura Roesler and Kesselring combined for 10 points in the 800-meter final, finishing third and fifth, respectively. Junior Bronwyn Crossman (fourth, 36:06.48) and freshman Sarah Andrews (eighth, 36:42.28) also contributed six team points in the 10,000-meter final.
Freshman Chizoba Okodogbe moved up to fourth on Oregon’s all-time 400-meter list, after finishing fourth in a personal-best 52.71.