Champs! Duck women win 7th NCAA track & field indoor title in record fashion
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Oregon track and field women's team won its seventh NCAA indoor title in the last eight years on Saturday, breaking the all-time meet scoring record while doing so, and four Ducks claimed individual national championships at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Gilliam Indoor Stadium.
The Women of Oregon scored 84 points to shatter the 29-year-old scoring record of 71, set by Texas in 1988. Hannah Cunliffe (60 meters), Sasha Wallace (60-meter hurdles), Raevyn Rogers (800 meters) and Ariana Washington (200 meters) each hauled in individual titles to lead the Ducks to the historic win. Oregon finished 33 points ahead of second-place Georgia to run away with the title.
“That’s the ultimate goal,” head coach Robert Johnson said of winning another title. “To be able to accomplish that is definitely fulfilling for us because that’s our whole goal and aspiration. Good performances all around. It’s a true testament to our support staff in keeping the kids ready and to our coaches keeping them focused. Fantastic job all around by everyone involved in this. It’s a total team effort from the staff down to the kids who were able to go out there and execute."
"We came here to win a team title, Washington said, "and we did it, we locked it up. We knew what we came here to do and I think all season, ever since cross country won, we’ve had a goal of getting this done. So no matter how we had to do it, we were gonna do it."
The day opened for the women with a trio of Ducks in the 60-meter finals. Cunliffe, the collegiate record-holder in the event, won her first-career national title in 7.14 seconds, and Ariana Washington (7.20) and Deajah Stevens (7.22) took third and fifth, respectively, to put a fast 20 points on the board for the Ducks.
“It feels great,” Cunliffe said. “I accomplished what I came here to do and it feels so great getting that national championship.”
Wallace, a senior competing indoors for the final time, brought home her first individual title in the 60-meter hurdles in 7.90, adding 10 more points to the Ducks’ total. Alaysha Johnson finished eighth in 8.13 to contribute a point the team’s winning total.
“Coming off last year, I really wanted to redeem myself and get the title,” Wallace said. “It’s been a journey, to come here and compete in the finals since my freshman year and finally get the title. I’m really excited about it."
About 20 minutes later, Rogers repeated as the national champion in the 800 meters with meet and facility record time of 2:01.09. Rogers has now won the last four 800-meter titles, two indoors and two outdoors.
“I just tried to stay composed, do my best and give it everything I had,” Rogers said. “I couldn’t be any happier and anymore blessed. My whole family, high school family and summer track family are all here, and I’m so blessed to have them here to have them see what I was able to do."
With the Women of Oregon up to 47 points and sitting in second behind Georgia, a tremendous performance in the 200 meters vaulted them to the top of the team standings for good. Washington, last year’s outdoor 200-meter champion, claimed the first indoor championship of her career in an Oregon and facility record 24.42. Cunliffe was right behind in second in 22.53, marking the first time a team finished 1-2 in the 200 meters since Auburn in 2010.
“We just knew that we were ready to really run fast,” Washington said. “It’s a comfort getting to line up next to the teammates that I line up next to every single day, 'it’s just like practice,’ we say before each race. We wish Deajah could have been with us in this one, but we’re really happy with the results."
The Ducks moved past Texas for the all-time scoring record in the 3,000 meters, as Katie Rainsberger and Samantha Nadel came in third and fourth, respectively. Rainsberger (9:09.87), a freshman, added the third-place finish to her resume that already includes a fourth-place showing at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, and Nadel was right behind in 9:10.88 to give the Ducks 76 points and the record.
A very competitive 4x400 relay wrapped up the meet, with the Ducks taking second in 3:27.07 and claiming both the UO record and second-fastest time in collegiate indoor history. The quartet of Makenzie Dunmore, Stevens, Elexis Guster and Rogers ran an inspiring race and were right with first-place USC the entire time.
The Women of Oregon continued their indoor dominance, repeating as champions and winning their seventh indoor title in the last eight years. Overall, the Ducks earned their ninth national championship in track and field, and 13th total including cross country. Johnson had put it upon the Ducks to prove the media right in its projections that Oregon would take over the record that stood for nearly 30 years, and the Women of Oregon obliged in statement fashion. Coupled with the women’s national title in cross country in the fall, the women are now positioned to take a run at the triple crown (cross country, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field).
Senior Alli Cash finished ninth in the 3,000 meters in 9:14.98 … Oregon won the title and broke the team scoring record despite not having any entries in the field events … Johnson, in his fifth season, has now led the Oregon track and field program to 12 national championships and 44 individual titles since taking over as the Ducks’ head coach … Texas A&M won the men’s team championship in front of a roaring home crowd.
The Ducks will have some time off from competition before jumping into the outdoor season with the Florida Relays (March 30-April 1) and the Stanford Invitational (March 31-April 1).