University of Oregon Track Fans: "What Dark Cloud?"

Red ShannonFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2010

Like a warm south wind, the University of Oregon's Track and Field teams scoured the recent gloomy conditions right out of Willamette Valley Saturday night.

And the forecast, at least for the near future, is blue skies and bright sun.

The Oregon women brought home the championship trophy—and the Oregon men, the next best thing—at the 2010 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayettville, Arkansas.

The good news couldn't have come at a better time for a campus reeling from negative press on several fronts: Ducks' football had several players suspended for various off-field infractions, Ducks' basketball just completed a disappointing season with it's head coach under fire, and yes, even a Duck cheerleader arrested for DUI and MIP.

That ominous, dark cloud is seemingly wiped away—at least for the time being.

A combined four first-place finishes (and a world record to boot) tends to do that.

The Oregon women rode sophomore Brianne Theisen's gutsy victory in the pentathlon to a dominant team effort, amassing 61 points for the runaway title. A victory in the final event, the 4x400 meter relay, shut the door on all challengers.

Tennessee, LSU, Florida, and Texas A&M were distant followers with 36, 35, 33, and 31 points respectively.

In what was arguably the highlight of the meet, Oregon senior Ashton Eaton broke Dan O'Brien's 17-year-old world record in the heptathlon, 6499 points to 6476.

The Tyson Track Center crowd got behind Eaton in his final event, the 1000 meters, when it became evident the record was within reach. The Bend, Oregon native responded with a personal best 2:32.67, which launched him into uncharted territory.

The Oregon men got another first-place finish in the distance medley relay as Andrew Wheating produced a dramatic final-leg kick to nip Dorian Ulrey of Arkansas at the tape.

Florida took the team title with 57 points. Oregon and Texas A&M shared the runner-up trophy with 44 apiece. LSU was a close third, with 42.

Oregon will have a favorable advantage in the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships as Hayward Field will once again host the Division I meet June 9-12.

Expect bright sun and cloudless skies.


Oregon Women's Highlights

Junior Melissa Gergel —second place in the pole vault, setting a new personal record at 14-7.25.

Senior Keshia Baker —second place in the 400 meters, with a new school record time of 51.63.

Freshman Jordan Hasay —fourth in the mile.

Senior Nicole Blood —fifth in the 3000 meters, after a nasty fall earlier Friday in the 5000 meters.

Freshman Anne Kesslering —sixth in the mile.


Oregon Men's Highlights

Senior Andrew Wheating —second place in the 800 meters, nipped by .01 second by Virginia's Robby Andrews.

Freshman Mac Fleet —second in the mile.

Senior AJ Acosta —fourth in the mile.

Team Oregon —sixth in the 4x400 meter relay.

Find complete meet results here .