Oregon track and field: Ducks bring record number of participants to NCAA indoor championships

The tree lines that frame Hayward Field are beautifully illuminated by a setting sun during the high school girls’ distance medley pack rounds Turn one. The American flag flew at half staff during the Relays on Friday, a somber reminder of the ongoing terror events that brought the city of Boston to a standstill. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

The tree lines that frame Hayward Field are beautifully illuminated by a setting sun during the high school girls’ distance medley pack rounds Turn one. The American flag flew at half staff during the Relays on Friday, a somber reminder of the ongoing terror events that brought the city of Boston to a standstill. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

Posted by Justin Wise on Wednesday, Mar. 12 at 8:30 pm.

As the Oregon track and field team prepares for the NCAA indoor championships held in Albuquerque, N.M., this weekend, Laura Roesler is aware of the possibilities that the meet presents. The redshirt junior enters the championships without ever falling short of the top of the leaderboard and to say that she has dismissed the prospects of doing it for a fourth time would be purely false.

“I thought about it last year with (Anne Kesselring) and (Rebecca Friday) going into their final indoor championships and they had never lost one and they didn’t want to be the first,” said Roesler, who comes into the meet ranked first in the 800 meters. “Now I’m a senior and I’m in the same boat, but I don’t think I need to put any unnecessary pressure on the team. I know they’ll go out and do their job and we’ll see how the points play out.”

Roesler and the rest of the Oregon women will aim for their fifth consecutive team title this weekend with 12 qualified performances (10 individual, two relays) scheduled. They currently rank just behind Florida at No. 2 in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings.

“This year we are going to have to nickel and dime, scrap a little more than in the past,” Roesler said.

The men’s team is sending 11 (nine individual, two relays) to Albuquerque. Combined with the women, that’s a school-record 23 performances. The men’s team comes in ranked No. 6. 

“I think everyone on the men’s team wants to win and so I want to do all I can in my event to help the team so whatever that is,” said heptathlete Dakota Keys, who is ranked eighth nationally coming into his event.

The depth will be evident throughout Friday and Saturday as the Ducks are represented by multiple athletes in several events. Edward Cheserek, Parker Stinson and Trevor Dunbar represent the men in the 3,000. Cheserek currently ranks second compared to the rest of the field.

Lauren Crockett and Chancey Summers will compete in the women’s high jump and Jasmine Todd and Jenna Prandini will compete in the women’s 60 meters.

“One of things in being here is to try to have a complete program,” head coach Robert Johnson said. “They are doing well, the women are ranked second, the men are ranked (sixth), and those will be finishes we hope to improve on.”

As the women hope to unseat Florida of its projected first place finish, they will do so knowing that rankings before the event have not displayed any notable signs. Last year, the Ducks were ranked fourth coming into the meet before surging to a first place finish.

Rankings aside, the men and women hope to carry the same sort of spark that they are notoriously known for.

“We always find a way to to bring our Hayward Field magic wherever we go and seem to really perform at indoor nationals, so I expect the same this time,” Roesler said.

Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JWISE25