OREGON TAKES THIRD STRAIGHT PAC-10 TITLE

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The No. 1 Oregon Ducks took home the 2008 Men's Pac-10 Cross Country Championship in dominating fashion at the Springfield Country Club course, with senior Galen Rupp's course-record 22:55.14 pacing the field.

'Coach (Vin Lananna) told me to have fun today and not put too much pressure on myself,' Rupp said. 'We have a big target on our backs this year and as a team we really just wanted to get rolling today. The conference title is a big deal, especially with us hosting it. We had a great time today.'

Oregon posted 28 points to take its third-straight conference crown with Stanford the runner-up at 47 points. California and Washington tied for third at 104 points with UCLA's 106 points good for fifth. The rest of the field fell in with Washington State (169 points) in sixth, Arizona (180 points) seventh and Arizona State (198 points) in eighth.

Individually, Rupp took the championship with Oregon freshman Luke Puskedra in second (23:32.11). In third and fourth were Stanford runners Chris Derrick (23:38.17) and Garrett Heath (23:41.18), respectively. Rounding out the top ten were Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott (fifth), California's Yosef Ghebray (sixth), Stanford's Jake Riley (seventh), UCLA's Drew Shackleton (eighth), Oregon's Andrew Wheating (ninth) and Washington's Jeremy Mineau (10th).

A crowd of thousands saw Rupp and the Ducks lead throughout the race, holding the top three positions from the starting gun.

Rupp, Kiptoo-Biwott and Puskedra led the early going for the Ducks. The trio, paced by Rupp, held a 50 meter edge on the pack. At the half-way point in the race, Rupp pushed ahead with the lead while Puskedra and Kiptoo-Biwott ran neck-and-neck 16 seconds behind the leader. The remainder of the chase pack, led by Kelly Spady of Washington and a host of Stanford runners followed 50 meters after the Oregon pair.

With one final loop of the 3.5 loop course remaining, Rupp led Puskedra and Kiptoo-Biwott with Andrew Wheating and two other Ducks in the 4-6 positions leading the chase pack.

In the final stretch with just more than 500 meters remaining, Rupp held a 45 second lead on the competition and Puskedra and Kiptoo-Biwott held a firm lead in front of the chase pack. But in the final few hundred meters, Kiptoo-Biwott was caught by the Stanford pair of Derrick and Heath.

It was the first race this season for Rupp, a 2008 U.S. Olympic competitor in the 10,000 meters.

- Joe Waltasti

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