Oregon women's cross country captures title with 'pack mentality'
OAKLAND, Calif. – These Ducks fly together.
It was easy to spot the Oregon women during Friday's 2014 Pac-12 Women’s Cross Country Championships at Oakland Metropolitan Golf Links. The pack of yellow bibs stayed close, sticking to the game plan.
The No. 3-ranked Oregon women's squad claimed its second team conference cross country title in three years.
“It’s a totally different group than 2012,” Oregon assistant coach Maurica Powell said. “Across the board.”
But one thing hasn’t changed -- Oregon’s pack mentality.
“We don’t have a clear front-runner,” Powell said. “We have seven kids who are pretty similar. Often on teams, you get a competitive lineup and people want to beat each other in the pecking order. Whereas this group has really embraced the dynamic of success and running together.”
Tape-delayed coverage of the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will air on Pac-12 Networks and Pac-12.com Monday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. PT.
While Arizona State senior Shelby Houlihan took first place in the individual race with her time of 19:59, seven of the top 20 finishers represented the Ducks. Stanford's Elise Cranny (20:04) took second, while Cal’s Bethan Knights (20:17) made a late charge to place third.
Oregon (54 points) claimed a sizable victory over second-place Stanford (74) in the team competition, while Colorado (82), Washington (93) and UCLA (143) rounded out the top five. Freshman Frida Berge led the Ducks with her sixth-place finish and time of 20:25, while teammates Waverly Neer (10th), Molly Grabill (11th) and Alli Cash (12th) soon crossed the finish line in quick succession to help bolster Oregon’s score.
The Ducks enjoyed Friday's environment, which included constant rain.
“Just like home,” said senior Megan Patrignelli, who finished 16th overall.
As a fifth-year athlete who has exhausted her track and field eligibility, Patrignelli said she’s savoring the final weeks of her NCAA career. Up next, the ranked Ducks will try to test their mettle at the NCAA West Regionals on Nov.14 at Stanford before the NCAA Nationals on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.
“This team is so young,” Patrignelli said. “It’s just been so fun to see this bond grown between us and to know that they have so many years left is so exciting. To be a part of it is really cool.”