Ducks win NCAA title
Nobody said winning the Triple Crown would be easy.
Well, actually, some people did say the third leg would be easy for the University of Oregon women's track and field team.
They turned out to be wrong about the degree of difficulty, but not about the Ducks.
In most dramatic fashion, Oregon's 4x400-meter relay team won the final event of the meet Saturday to pull ahead of Georgia and claim the NCAA outdoor team title by 1.8 points.
That gave the UO a sweep of the major competitions this school year, with Oregon having won national titles in cross-country and indoor track and field as well.
The Ducks made it a harrowing closing day at Hayward Field, and had to win the long relay in a competition they figured, on paper, to claim much earlier and by 20 or more points.
The tense moments came about in part because one of Oregon's top sprinters, Deajah Stevens, fell in the 200 with about 10 meters to go and failed to finish and score even one point in a race she was on track to win or come in second.
Stevens somehow had the physical, mental and emotional composure and ability to help lead the 4x400 to a gutsy, narrow, back-and-forth victory over rival USC — with both teams breaking the collegiate record in the process.
The result gave Oregon the 10 points it needed to finish with 64, leap-frogging Georgia, which had 62.2, and wasn't in the 4x400 final.
Raevyn Rogers, Oregon's 800-meter NCAA champ, held off USC's Kendall Ellis over the last half of the anchor leg, thrilling most in the crowd of 12,992.
The UO time of 3 minutes, 23.13 seconds also was a meet and Hayward record.
USC crossed the line in 3:23.35.
Makenzie Dunmore led off for Oregon and handed the baton to Stevens, who gave it to Elexis Guster, who stayed close to the lead and helped set up Rogers' heroics.
Other keys Saturday for Oregon included Katie Rainsberger's fourth-place finish in the 1,500, and a 4-6 showing in the 100 hurdles by Alaysha Johnson and Sasha Wallace.
Stevens and Washington went 2-4 in the 100, Washington was second in the 200, Guster took sixth in the 400, and Samantha Nadel as eighth in the 5,000.
Big points came in the 800 from Brooke Feldmeier as well, who ran a personal best 2:01.54 for third.