Oregon track and field’s Parker Stinson turned in an impressive performance at the Pac-12 Championships Saturday.
The senior competed in the men’s 10,000, finishing second to Stanford’s Joe Rosa after a dead sprint to the finish line. Rosa crossed the line at 29:16.71 while Stinson finished with a final time of 29:18.33.
“It would have been really cool to be a Pac-12 champion, it was something I dreamed about as a freshman,” Stinson said. “It was really great to have that opportunity today.”
Heading into the meet the field looked much stronger as multiple All-Americans were expected to compete. Pac-12 defending champion Lawi Lalang, star Oregon freshman Edward Cheserek and Washington Sophomore Aaron Nelson were all glaring omissions.
For Cheserek, the decision was made to race the 5000 and 1500 instead of the 10K.
“I like the 1500 to test my speed,” Cheserek said after his qualifying race. “I am always a 10, 5K guy, but I came to try it and help the team out.”
Lalang also chose to compete in the 1500 over the 10K. The senior finished Saturday’s qualifying heats with the third fastest time on the day (3:47.77). Lalang holds the Pac-12 meet record, which he set last year.
Nelson most likely chose not to run the event as he competed in the men’s 3000 steeplechase on Saturday instead. Nelson won with a time of 8:49.09.
With the truncated field Stinson found himself entering the event with the top time this season, with a previous best of 28:51.98. Though he didn’t get the win like he had hoped, Stinson ran a near perfect race.
“I wanted to execute a plan to stay disciplined,” Stinson said.
Quickly after the race began Stinson found himself separated from the main group as he broke off with two Colorado runners. Stinson ran well early, looking calm and composed, as he was content to stay on the heels of the leaders.
At the 17 minute mark of the race, the front group had grown to a total of four athletes, with Rosa joining the leaders. Their group pulled further ahead from the field as Stinson continued to look impressive.
The final breakaway happened with 300 meters to go after Rosa jumped out on a sprint to the finish. Stinson wasn’t too far behind as he still had a powerful kick of his own.
“Its definitely the fastest I have ever closed,” Stinson said. “I don’t know if at 300 I should have moved up just a tiny bit so he couldn’t get the jump on me, because I felt like once he got out I kept that gap pretty even. I was just a little slow to react.”
Stinson could never close the gap, settling for second.
“He is a senior, and any chance you get to run in your last Pac-12 meet is awesome for him to be able to place out,” head coach Robert Johnson said. “Tough break that he couldn’t close out the gap there and get a W to go out with style.”
Parker is scheduled to run the 5000 tomorrow, though he is now focused on training for Nationals.
Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur