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Gardner Wins 100 Title But Duck Women Trail After NCAA Championships Day 3
By Steve Ritchie - Special to the Statesman Journal
June 7, 2013

Jordan Hasay - University of Oregon
EUGENE - Day Three of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field was not lacking for drama. The Oregon women will need plenty more today - the final day of action - if they are going to make up a 15-point gap on the Kansas Jayhawks in what has become a two-team battle for the title.

Though Kansas scored big in the heptathlon, triple jump and pole vault on Friday, UO Head Coach Robert Johnson wasn't ready to throw in the towel.

"I think we still have some battles to fight (on Saturday)," Johnson said."It's not over yet."

The Oregon men had just one athlete in action on Friday, but UO senior Elijah Greer made it count, winning the 800 meters in his last Hayward Field appearance in an Oregon uniform.

Greer's victory provided a much-needed boost for the Oregon men, who still have aspirations of taking home a trophy with a top-four team finish. The ten points from his 800 win gave the Oregon men 18 points, which leaves them in a sixth-place tie with UCLA. Texas and USC are tied for the lead with 32.

The drama on Friday started with the women's 100 meters. UO sprint standout English Gardner got her shot at redemption and made the most of it, winning the 100 meters in 10.96, the third-fastest collegiate time ever.

On Thursday, Gardner left the track in tears after an inflamed ankle ended her hopes in the 200 meter qualifying.

"There was a lot of emotions yesterday," she said after the 100. "I didn't know whether to scream or shout or cry."

But what a difference a day can make. Though she admitted to being "scared out of my mind," before the 100 meters, Gardner was in control all the way. She came out of the blocks first and built a lead of a couple meters over the first half of the race, then held off Octavious Freeman of the University of Central Florida in the last 20 meters to win by .04 seconds. Gardner's 10.96 broke her own school and Pac-12 records, and stamped her as a contender in the USA championships later this month if her ankle holds up.

Asked about her ability to come back for relay action on Saturday, Gardner was emphatic, stating, "I'm ready for anything."

Senior Jordan Hasay, like Greer running in her last race at Hayward in an Oregon singlet, tried mightily but couldn't quite realize the storybook ending to her UO career that she was hoping to have in Friday's 5000 meters.

Hasay ran with the leaders for the first ten laps, then broke away with favorite Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth with 600 meters left. After briefly taking the lead with a lap to go, Hasay was unable to hold on. D'Agostino passed her on the backstretch and Hasay couldn't respond. 10,000 meter champion Betsy Saina of Iowa State staged a furious kick in the homestretch, leaving Hasay third in 15:50.78.

Hasay was, as always, gracious and thoughtful about her effort and her four years as a Duck.

"(The race) was kind of bittersweet, obviously," Hasay said. "I would have liked to get the win, but this is just the beginning for me in my running career. No matter what, these past four years have been an experience that is like no other. . . When we walked out for warm-ups the crowd was on their feet, and I just feel so blessed to have this community around me.

"I was trying to believe in a storybook ending. But that's life, you can script it all you want, but it doesn't always work out the way you would like it to. . . I'll race at Hayward again, just not in this uniform."

Laura Roesler - University of Oregon
UO junior Laura Roesler executed her race plan perfectly in the 800 meters and ran a personal best time of 2:00.98, but she was unable to run down front-running Natoya Goule' of LSU, who led the race wire to wire. The hyper-competitive Roesler tried get over her disappointment in finishing second.

"Any normal person would be stoked," Roesler said, mustering a small smile. "I did everything I could, I just didn't have it in that last 100. That was big team points, though. We're staying in the game and fighting."

Phyllis Francis did much the same as Roesler in the 400 meter final, mounting a big charge on the final turn. In the homestretch it looked briefly like Francis might reel in leaders Ashley Spencer of Illinois and Shaunae Miller of Georgia, but couldn't quite get there, despite running a personal best time of 50.86. Spencer won in 50.28, which was just .18 seconds off the all-time college record of 50.10.

A top recruit from Lake Oswego four years ago, Elijah Greer put an exclamation point on what has been a sensational senior year for him. Greer won the indoor 800 title in March and added the outdoor title on Friday, running 1:46.58.

Realizing he was about to be boxed in with 300 meters to go, Greer made a split-second decision to move into the lead. It turned out to be the right move, as Greer moved away from his pursuers on the backstretch, and then held off Penn State's Casimir Loxsom at the end of the race.

"With about 40 meters to I started to tie up, and said, "Please don't let Cas pass me. As I was running it in, I couldn't see him in my peripheral at all, so that's when I knew I was safe . . . It's beautiful, it's wonderful, that's why I put my hands up at the end of the race, like 'thank you.' It's a real blessing and an honor."

Going into the final day of the meet today, the Kansas women have 48 points to Oregon's 33. While the Ducks have two runners in the 1500 meters and both relay teams in action Saturday, Kansas counters with one athlete in the 200, and also has both relay teams in the finals.

The Oregon men have a lot of firepower on Saturday, including Mac Fleet in the 1500, Johnathan Cabral in the 110 high hurdles, Sam Crouser in the javelin, and the 4 x 400 relay.

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