Oregon narrowly beats UA track teams for Pac-10 title

The University of Arizona track team is probably still having bad dreams about Ducks, almost a week after the close of the Pac-10 Conference Championships.

The University of Oregon held off Arizona’s men’s and women’s teams to win the Pac-10 titles this year, leaving the Wildcats to settle for second place.

And, to make matters worse, the women’s championship came down to the final event of the competition, held at UofA’s Drachman Stadium.  The Ducks took a 2 1/2 point lead into the final event, the 4×400 relay.

Arizona set a school record time of 3:31.67 in a valiant try to pull out the win for the title.  But the Ducks set a stadium and meet record of 3:29.63 to secure the crown.

However, despite the disappointment of missing out on the team championship, Arizona came away with several important accomplishments.

This was the first time that both men’s and women’s teams had finished second in the same year, and matched the best finishes ever for both squads.  The final team score was 150 points, the most scored in Arizona conference meet history and 41 better than last year.  Oregon won with 154.50 points.

They also wrapped up six individual conference titles in the process, which equals the largest total in one conference heat in the history of the program.

Christina Rodgers broke a school record in the 800-meter run that has stood for the past 17 years, posting a 2:03.52 time that earned her a second-place finish.  She now holds both the indoor and outdoor school records for the event.

Rodgers also ran a leg of the 4×400 relay that closed out the competition and set a school record.  She was joined by Shapri Romero, Echos Blevins, and Georganne Moline.  Rodgers’ leg of 52.83 was second only to the 52.62 run by the anchor, Moline.

The women also picked up a chunk of points in the field events, scoring 31 points in the shot put and another 22 points in the discus, as Taylor Freeman, Baillie Gibson, and Julie Labonte finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.

And sophomore Brigetta Barrett cleared the bar at 6’04” in the high jump to pocket her first Pac-10 title.

The men finished the two days with 111 points, their best total since 2006 and the third-most all-time in Pac-10 history.

They dominated the 5,000-meter race and provided a thrilling end to the event when Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu hit the tape less than a second apart.  The freshman Lalang leaned just enough to edge out his teammate and won the title in a time of 13:47.29.  Sambu, the junior transfer, was clocked at 13:47.39.

The women also were well-represented in the distance events, as Jennifer Bergman picked up a second-place finish in the 10,000-meter and a third in the 5,000-meter (16:26.96).  Teammate Hannah Moen was fourth in the steeplechase and right behind Bergman in the 5,000 (16:31.32).

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)