Written by Alex Drude | 9 April 2012
When two Top-Five teams collide, that should be a big deal . . . and when the Number One team just crushes the Number Five team, that should result in a feeling of "Wow, we did it!" for the Number One team.
That exact scenario - well, most of it - happened at Hayward Field this weekend, as the top-ranked Oregon women's track team demolished Number Five Texas A&M. Great individual performances got it done - like senior Alex Kosinski, back fully from injury, with the performance of the day: a 21-second PR in the 5000 at 15:36.90. I like how track continues to call it a "5000" to make seem high-falutin' even though it's really just a normal 5K that thousands of runners around the country run every day. Not many of us can do it in fifteen-and-a-half minutes, but still . . .
Then there's senior Brianne Theisen, not grabbing top billing even though her story was almost as remarkable: also missing the outdoor season last year, this weekend Theisen tied her PR in the 200 with a 24.10 and finished second in the 100 m hurdles. I don't know . . . she's only one of the best all-around athletes in the country - a three-time indoor pentahtlon champion and two-time outdoor heptathlon champion - and North America too, considering she's Canadian. That her outdoor comeback has seemed so natural, so easy (at least for those of us on the outside) is tremendous.
Track is perhaps one of the weirdest sports because sometimes participants don't, in fact, play to win all the time. There's always another event to look toward, so some athletes go 90- or 80- or even 70-percent of all-out, conserving their legs for 'next time'. That's because in team meets, points are more important than personal standing. If you were to, say, run the 1500 and lead the first three laps in record time and then fall all the way back to 9th or even not finish the race - well, guess what, you don't earn any points for your team. If you were to be second the whole way through, you earn a significant number of points even though you didn't win. Which kind of takes the whole 'individual achievement' thing out of it.
But the Ducks not only blasted their way to the team title, they won half the events. And yet . . . and yet . . . none of them afterward seemed like they were too impressed.
I guess that's because they're looking toward the next meet . . . the next meet . . . and the Pac-12 Championships . . . and the NCAA regionals . . . and the NCAA championships . . .
But they just beat their biggest rival of the past three years, the team they've lost to in the NCAA championships three years in a row . . . and they just seemed to have ho-hummed through the part where they should be saying, "Wow, we did it!"
I guess there's something to be said for keeping their eyes on the prize, but there's also something to be said for enjoying the ride. It's like running a race: the part that's most memorable is the actual running of it, not just the finish.
Are the Ducks enjoying the race they're in? They should be. I hope they are.