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UO and OSU Athletes Use Twilight Meet to Tune-Up for PAC-12 Meet
By Steve Ritchie / Special to the Statesman Journal
May 4, 2013

English Gardner

Eugene - On a night when the Oregon track and field program recognized an exceptional senior class at their last regular season home meet, a host of Ducks and a few Beavers used the Twilight Meet to tune up for next weekend's Pac-12 championships in Los Angeles.

Despite throwing into a swirling headwind, UO sophomore Sam Crouser came up with a seasonal best of 249-10 on his second throw in the javelin,
besting UO school record holder and 2012 Olympian Cyrus Hostetler in the process. The throw moved Crouser up to third nationally in the event among collegians.

Crouser came back for double duty in the discus, where he placed fourth with a best throw of 166-08. Crouser said he will be competing in both javelin and discus next weekend, and possibly even shot put, in an attempt to pick up as many points for the team as he can as the Oregon men go for their sixth consecutive Pac-12 track and field championship.

Crouser said throwing into a stiff headwind can be tricky for a javelin thrower, and there is almost always a headwind at Hayward Field. He said that might work to his advantage when the nation's best collegiate athletes come to Eugene for the NCAA championships in June.

"This kind of wind, if you hit it right, can be good but if you miss it, it can hurt you really bad."

While many of the top tier Oregon athletes were sitting this meet out, focusing on fine-tuning for the upcoming Pac-12 meet, both of the Duck 4 x 100 meter relay teams were in action. The UO women won their race easily in 44.34, a half-second off their season best, but star sprinter English Gardner said the group needs to improve their handoffs.

"We only ran today because we needed to work on our (handoffs)," Gardner said. "We got a whole lotta work to do . . . We'll just get out there and get it right when it counts."

Gardner, who currently has the world-leading mark in the 100 meters - 11.0- runs second leg on the relay, and acknowledged that the exchange between her and third leg Jenna Prandini definitely needs to be "cleaned up," if the Ducks are going to be a factor at NCAAs.

The story was much the same for UO men's 4 x 100 team. Even though De'Anthony Thomas, who normally runs anchor leg, wasn't available on Friday, the Ducks won handily in 40.26, just .06 off their season best.

Leadoff Dior Mathis, who also won the 100 meter race in 10.70, said, "We have the speed to compete with the best in the Pac-12, we just need to get the stick around fast enough and we'll be good.

Mathis, a cornerback on the UO football team, participated in spring football practices and the spring game last Saturday. He said he was"finally back in track shape" after the end of spring football, and said he thought De'Anthony Thomas would be back to run at the Pac-12 meet next week.

Oregon State also had a select group of athletes at the Twilight and got a win in the women's high jump. OSU freshman Sara Almen made her outdoor debut a successful outing, jumping without a miss through 5-8 and getting a second attempt clearance at 5-10. Oregon's tandem of Chancey Summers and Lauren Crockett also cleared 5-10 but both had a single miss at 5-8, which gave the win to Almen on fewer misses.

Almen, a former state high jump champion for Santiam Christian and a current OSU volleyball standout, cleared 5-11 1/4 indoors, but has been hampered since, first by a concussion from a bicycle accident and, later, by severe shin problems.

"This is the first time my body has felt healthy in a long time," Almen said. "I think that 5-10 is pretty decent for my first time jumping outdoors (this season)."

Almen was disappointed at not to be able to compete in OSU's inaugural home meet in March, due to her concussion, but she is excited about being a part of the revival of track and field in Corvallis.

"It's awesome . . . just amazing," she said. "Coach Kelly (Sullivan) is just the best coach ever."

Almen, like many of the other top athletes at the Twilight Meet, is focused on the big meets coming up - conference, regionals and NCAA championships.

"My main goal this season is to clear 6 feet," said Almen, adding, "Then I want to go to the NCAA championships."

The Oregon seniors took to the track for an emotional recognition ceremony near the end of the Twilight Meet. The group of 19 senior athletes includes three NCAA champions - Jordan Hasay, Anne Kesselring and Elijah Greer. Especially on the women's side, this has been a very special group, which
helped win four straight NCAA indoor track and field titles, and a national championship in cross country.

Hasay has earned All-American status no fewer than 17 times and is arguably one of Oregon's most accomplished track athletes ever. She has also been the face of the high-profile Oregon women's program for four years and has acquitted herself admirably throughout, both on the track and in the classroom.

Hasay and both Oregon teams can celebrate only briefly before facing their biggest challenges of the season in the coming five weeks. First up, the Pac-12 meet May 11-12, then the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds on May 23-25, and finally the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field on June 5-8.

Notes: Former Cascade High School state champion Linsie Michels, now running for Concordia University, placed third in the 800 meters in 2:08.81. Silverton High grad Morgan Anderson, redshirting at OSU, ran unattached in the A section of the 1500 meters and placed 11th in a lifetime best of 4:36.33.


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