Oregon's Edward Cheserek wins second straight Pac-12 cross country title
OAKLAND, Calif. – Edward Cheserek knows how to finish.
For the first 5,000 meters of the men's title race at Friday’s 2014 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships, Cheserek was just another part of the mob running on the rain-soaked fairways at Oakland Metropolitan Golf Links. But then he flipped the switch and the rest of the competition didn’t stand a chance.
Cheserek, the reigning NCAA and Pac-12 individual champion, set a blistering pace on the final leg of the 8,000-meter circuit to finish with a mark of 23:23.
“My coach was telling me, ‘When you feel good, make a move,’” Cheserek said. “At five [kilometers] I felt good. From one to five [kilometers] I was taking it easy and I was strong at five [kilometers], so I was, like, ‘OK, I’ve got to go.’”
Off he went, winning his seventh meet in seven tries this season. Not bad for the true sophomore who spent the first 16 years of his life in Kenya before moving to Newark, New Jersey, in 2010.
Cheserek shared a big hug with teammate Eric Jenkins after he crossed the finish line with a second-place mark of 23:34.
“It means a lot,” Cheserek said of Oregon’s one-two finish. “We train all the time with my team. He’s like my running buddy – working out together, hanging out together. We live as teammates.”
Still, No. 2 Oregon (54) finished second to top-ranked Colorado (30) in the team competition, as the Buffs made it four straight Pac-12 cross country men's team titles in a row. Stanford (60) was a close third place, led by third-place finisher Joe Rosa.
With the Pac-12 repeat, Cheserek joins some elite company. Arizona’s Lawi Lalang won back-to-back individual Pac-12 championships in 2011-12, but Cheserek is the first Duck to accomplish the feat since Jim Hill did it in 1982-83. Oregon legend Steve Prefontaine won the 1970-71 and 1973 titles, while Galen Rupp was a two-time winner for the Ducks (2006, 2008).
“When I was looking at colleges I kept on looking up to these guys,” Cheserek said, “and with time I hope one day to be as good as them.”
The 20-year-old is slated to be a top contender at the NCAA west regional at Stanford on Nov. 14 and also at the NCAA national championships on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Watch Pac-12 Networks' coverage of the 2014 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships Monday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Networks, Pac-12.com/now and our Pac-12 Now app.