May 21, 1999
TEMPE, Ariz. - Both the meteorologists and pundits were right, Tempe's warm, dry conditions certainly slowed distance times at the Pacific-10 Championships, but not enough to stop a pair of Duck distance runners and pole vaulter from individual titles. Meanwhile, in the team races, the Duck men and women got out to first- and eight-place starts with scores of 43 and 17 points, respectively.
On the individual side, senior Marie Davis posted the opening win of the UO trio, capturing her first conference win in the 3,000 after a runner-up finish as a junior, fifth as a sophomore and sixth as a freshman.
"It was a great way to close my Pac-10 career," Davis said. "This is the strongest shape I've every been at this point of the year, and I've continued to improve as the season winds down."
Although first at the line, the Portland native spent little time out front during the race, abiding by a patient, tactical plan. Instead, runners from the warmer climates, such as Stanford and Arizona toot the field through a modest opening mile of 5:08.
Davis stayed in fifth place until barely more than a lap left, when the bell's clang quickly urged her to the lead. Stanford's Julia Stamps quickly retook the with 350 meters remaining and kept the lead until midway down the backstretch. Davis rallied with the deciding charge, reassuming the lead with 200 meters left and building up a 15-meter cushion at the finish line. Soon after, sophomore teammate Annie Ebiner added her first Pac-10 points in eighth place (10:13.72)
"It was tough to sit back there and go slower because you have to adjust your stride accordingly and it feels different," Davis said. "But one of my goals was to try and get in that position in the middle of a pack so I could get used to how it will feel at NCAA's, and helping me run a smarter race. I even really didn't want to take the lead going into the final lap, but the pace was lagging, and I picked it up slightly."
Davis' win also made up for a disappointing finish at the conference finale in 1998, when she led much of the way in a steamy 3,000 at Palo Alto, before Stanford's Moral Chokshi, the eventual NCAA champion, unleashed a brutal final lap-long kick for the win.
On the men's side, the 3,000 distance also proved a perfect fit for another Duck senior, as Micah Davis cruised to a comfortable win in the steeplechase for his second win in the event.
"I'm really happy to win two titles in the event," Davis said, "but also, I needed another race to give me confidence heading into other championships races There's a little more pressure on this because everybody wants to know if you have it or not to defend your title."
Davis led nearly the entire race, although he had company from Arizona's Jeremy Lyon for the first five laps, before Davis added 10-15 meters on the Wildcat junior each of the remaining laps. Senior teammate Rob Aubrey pushed Lyon (9:07.10) to the tape before taking third (9:09.14), while fellow senior Konrad Knutsen finished 11th (9:33.32)
"I started to pick it up a little at the end and I started to feel better," Davis said. "I had a little cotton-mouth early and wasn't feeling as fluid hurdling-wise as I would have like, until I got into the race a ways."
Davis' effort followed a breakthrough run at Portland the week before at the Oregon adidas Classic, where he ran his first NCAA automatic effort the year (sixth, 8:38.15). Now the Spokane, Wash., native can look ahead to his third trip to the NCAA Championships after finishing fourth in 1998 and 13th in the qualifying round in 1997.
Senior Piotr Buciarski proved equally on pace at the conference championships, winning his second pole vault title over Stanford's Toby Stevenson and finishing fourth in the long jump.
Buciarski's success at less than ideal conditions again proved to be the difference as the oft-changing, daresay swirling, winds kept vaulters guessing all afternoon. Buciarski was one of three vultures tied as the top seed coming in at 18-2 /2 with Stevenson, the NCAA outdoor champion in '98, and Arizona's Jeff Dutoit. However, Stevenson missed several attempts at his lower attempts before finishing second on misses (17-11 1/2), while Dutoit finished sixth Friday at 16-11 1/2.
On the long jump runway, Buciarski utilized only four of his jumps but still repeated his fourth-place finish from last season, finishing with a best leap of 24-8 1/4 -- also his best wind- legal jump of the year after leaping 24-9 1/4 at Washington State to open April.
Also in the field events, senior Chris Thomas followed Buciarski's lead, and notched an NCAA provisional mark in the javelin with his fifth-place finish of 221-0. Thomas's mark, a nearly five-foot personal best, was barely three feet out of third place in an elite field featuring five previous NCAA qualifiers. Sophomore teammate Ryan Keith also made the finals, finishing ninth (209-8), while senior Shawn Rasmor closed his career with a 12th-place finish (192-4).
Other finishers from Friday's finals included freshman John Bello in the shot put (10th, 49- 4 1/2); and freshman Tim Overfield in the 400 hurdles (seventh in heat , 54.15)
Looking ahead to Saturday's finals, first-day qualifiers included junior Howard Moore in the 400 (fourth in heat, 47.02); juniors Steve Fein (third in heat, 3:51.76) and Todd Humcke in the 1,500 (third in heat, 3:53.52); senior Will Driessen in the 400 hurdles (second in heat, 52.29); freshman Ross Krempley in the 800 (fourth in heat, 1:53.38).
Joining Marie Davis in the women's scoring column other top-eight finishers included a surprise trio of scoring in the javelin which featured three scorers, and all with season bests. Sophomore Sara Dinsmore finished fourth (146-5) after entering the meet seeded 11th coming into Friday, while senior Tasha Cooper and junior Jennifer Cutburth scored their first conference- meet points with sixth- and seventh-place finishes with throws of 144-0 and 138-1, respectively.
Other finishers in Friday's finals included Liz Howell in the 10,000 (10th, 37:57.67); seniors Michele Dick (ninth, 45-10 1/2) and Heidi Fisk (10th, 44-0 3/4) in the shot put; Hilary Holly in the long jump (seventh, 19-0 1/4); senior Heidi Fisk in the hammer (seventh, 174-9);
Other finishers from Friday's finals included senior Robyn Sutherland in the 800 (fifth in heat, 2:11.46); Aisha Wallace in the 400 (fifth in heat, 56.70); senior Stacy Robson in the long jump (13th, 18-1 1/4); junior Tarn Tarver in the 100 (ninth in heat, 12.41); senior Michele Dick (16th, 154-10) and junior Heather Hill (17th, 152-10) and in the hammer.
The rest of Friday's action was also reserved for qualifying rounds, featuring advancing efforts by senior Kaarin Knudson, winner of the second heat of the 800 (2:11.26); senior Tish Henes in the 400 hurdles (fourth in heat, 59.98); junior Katie Crabb in the 1,500 (fourth in heat, 4:39.22)