This weekend the Oregon men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams will travel to take part in the 22nd Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s championship meet at the University of Washington’s Dempsey indoor facility.
“Each competition we do we take seriously,” Oregon’s Jenna Prandini said. “MPSF is just another qualifying round for a lot of people. We are going to try and do the best we can this weekend, but our ultimate goal is to get prepared for nationals.”
The MPSF features three conferences (Pac-12, Big West and West Coast) represented by 17 universities, including first-time participants USC and Cal State Fullerton. 17 women’s teams will compete for the championship while 12 men’s teams will do the same.
Coming into the meet, the Oregon women’s team is ranked No. 1 in the nation with 201.28 points while the men are fifth with 99.54 points. The Oregon women have won three of the last four MPSF titles while on the men’s side it was Arizona State, that was able to win it all last year.
The MPSF championship will serve as a last-chance qualifying meet for several Oregon athletes as the team looks ahead to the NCAA Indoor Championships.
“There are a couple of bubble people who probably need to hold fast or improve slightly,” Oregon head coach Robert Johnson said. “If we can get these things done, Oregon is batting a thousand.”
Some of the Oregon athletes who are looking to improve their chances of qualifying include Chancey Summers in the high jump, Edward Cheserek in the 3K, Mac Fleet in the 800 and Brett Johnson in the mile.
If Oregon can successfully use the MPSF championship to send more athletes to nationals, then the team will improve its chances to score more points. For the women, this means a chance to win a fifth consecutive national indoor title.
“If I stay true to what I always say, I haven’t really thought much about it,” Johnson said when asked about the possibility of claiming yet another indoor championship. “Right now the most important thing for us is this indoor season and the Mountain Pacific. If we go into this year trying to repeat what we did last year, we are going to miss something.”
The athletes who are comfortable with their chances of making to the NCAA Indoor Championships will use this weekend’s meet as a chance to fine-tune their skills and improve their marks.
“It is a huge weight off of your shoulders,” middle distance runner Parker Stinson said in regards to already qualifying for nationals in the 5K. “Now I can focus on training for nationals.”
The MPSF will commence Friday at noon (PT) with the women’s weight throw.
Follow Chris Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur