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Surprising 5K by Alex Kosinski Highlights UO's Pepsi Invite
By Steve Ritchie
April 7, 2012

University of Oregon's Alex Kosinski
EUGENE - University of Oregon senior Alex Kosinski battled Natosha Rogers of Texas A&M thru 11 laps of the 5000 meters at the Pepsi Invitational on Saturday before simply laying waste to her over the last 600 meters of the race.

Kosinski, who missed the entire 2011 outdoor season, showed impressive strength as she finished off a fast race with a 68 second last lap, polishing off Rogers and demolishing her own outdoor PR by 21 seconds in the process.

Kosinski's time of 15:36.90 is the third fastest-ever by a UO woman outdoors and is less than 14 seconds off Kathy Hayes' venerable school record of 15:23.03, set way back in 1985 (which coincidentally is the year the Ducks won their only outdoor NCAA championship).

If Kosinski is able to build on this performance, she might not only break the school record, but could, perhaps, provide the crucial points for Oregon to finally break through and win an outdoor national championship. They have finished second in each of the past three years, and are projected to be in a tight struggle with LSU at this year's national meet.

Kosinski came to UO as a touted 1500 meter runner, and primarily ran 1500 for two years, but began to focus more on the 5000 after a break-through race at the 5000 meter distance at the 2010 NCAA meet, when she finished an unexpected third. She says, "I still love the 1500," but she quite understandably got tired of being left behind in the final sprint in 1500 races.

If Saturday's performance was any indication, it doesn't appear that Kosinski has to worry too much about being out-kicked in the longer race. When she hit top gear on the last lap, it appeared effortless and looked more like a 1500 finish than a 5K finish.

"I didn't think we were running that fast," she said after the race. When she finally glanced up at the scoreboard near the end of the race and saw her time, she was surprised and thought, "Oh, I can get a PR."

Perhaps one reason for the surprise was that Kosinski has been battling a persistent hip problem over the past six months. Partly because of what she called the "hip thing," her indoor season was a disappointment. She made it to the NCAA Indoor Championships, but did not place.

While her training has been affected by the hip, Kosinski said she is beginning to feel more like herself in the outdoor season.

"(The hip problem) won't seem to go away . . . I have backed off my cross training a lot and increased my mileage. I can train on it, (but the coaches) are still really cautious with me.

"I have been doing more strength work - speed comes from strength and coach keeps saying "It'll come, it'll come."

After Saturday's race, Kosinski has to know if the speed hasn't come yet, it is certainly well on its way. And that might make the difference in June when every point will likely be crucial for the Duck women.

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