Oregon track and field is gearing up for the conclusion of the championship season, as the team travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to participate at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds.
“I think we are ready, as ready as we will ever be,” head coach Robert Johnson told media during practice Monday afternoon. “An old country boy like myself from North Carolina would say, ‘the hay is in the barn’, so there is not too much more we can do.”
Regionals, which start Thursday, serve as a last qualifier for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which are being hosted by Oregon at Historic Hayward Field. The top twelve finishers in each event will get a chance to compete in Eugene.
“It would be great if we could just take 24 into the NCAA meet,” Johnson said, “but it’s the rules so we will play along and go to regionals to see if we can get many of those kids qualified.”
For the Oregon athletes, the goal is to make it through the preliminary meet so they can return to the friendly confines of Hayward to battle for a chance to win a Championship.
“It’s everything we have worked for since the fall,” senior distance runner Trevor Dunbar said. “It’s really going to be something special, especially getting to share it with the best fans in the nation.”
Dunbar will be competing in both the 5,000 and 10,000. In the 10,000 he will find himself racing against a loaded field that includes two of his teammates, Parker Stinson and Edward Cheserek.
“The conditions are going to be difficult and the competition is going to be difficult,” Dunbar said of the 10,000, “but I am very excited to be doing it.”
Oregon has the most entries out of any team combined heading into the meet.
The Ducks have already shined this championship season after they were able to sweep the Pac-12 Championships in Pullman, Wash. The team also just had their end of the season awards banquet, which gave the coaches a chance to recognize several individuals.
“Funny thing about the banquet is we have our most heated conversations as a staff around the banquet and recruiting,” Johnson said. “So it’s always spirited conversation when its those two times of the year.”
Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur