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Oregon Men, Providence Women No. 1 at Franklin Park

OREGON MEN, PROVIDENCE WOMEN WIN AT COAST-TO-COAST BATTLE IN BOSTON
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)
PHOTO:
Jake Leingang (l) and Edward Cheserek celebrate after finishing second
and first, respectively, at the Coast-to-Coast Battle  cross
country meet in Boston’s Franklin Park

BOSTON,
MA (27-Sep) — Edward Cheserek and Jake Leingang never left each others
shoulders at today’s Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown cross country
meet. The University of Oregon freshmen were together at the start,
side-by-side at the five kilometer checkpoint, then neck-and-neck at
the finish of the eight kilometer contest in Franklin Park. Stunning a
large crowd on hand, the tandem took first and second to lead the
12th-ranked Ducks to an upset win over Wisconsin and Syracuse.

“Running with these guys was great,” said Cheserek with a big smile, surrounded by happy teammates.

Cheserek
and Leingang, both true freshman racing in their first collegiate
races, didn’t seem to have any nerves going into today’s competition.
Facing ranked opponents Wisconsin (8), Syracuse (9), and Providence
(25), the duo simply stuck together from start to finish.

With
the entire field still bunched passing the mile in approximately 4:50,
Oregon was tucked in behind, biding their time and sticking to their
pre-race strategy.

“The race plan was to have all seven of our guys in the top-20 by 5-K,” said junior Jeremy Elkaim.

After
a loop of famed Bearcage Hill, the leaders hit five kilometers in 15:33
led by Providence’s Shane Quinn and Northeastern’s Wesley Gallagher.
Roughly five meters back sat Cheserek and his pal Leingang, along with
the group of Ducks.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming
in with my first college race, but I sat back and felt very good,” said
Leingang, a high school national champion over 5000m from North Dakota.

Reaching the four-mile mark, Syracuse’s Martin Hehir led by a
step on Providence’s Quinn. Within five seconds of the pair, though,
were at least six Duck harriers ready to make their moves in the final
mile.

Descending Bearcage Hill with less than 800 meters
remaining, it still seemed anyone’s race. In the final turn, though,
the freshman tandem of Cheserek and Leingang proved they had some gas
left in the tank. Fending off Hehir, the duo crossed the finish at the
same instant, Cheserek lifting his arms in jubilation, getting the
narrow victory over his teammate.

Both recording a finish time
of 24:11, Cheserek and Leingang only had to wait a brief moment to see
the rest of their teammates come through the finish chute. In fourth
was Ryan Pickering, then consecutively in seventh, eighth and ninth
were Matthew Melancon, Elkaim, and Daniel Winn.

Grouped all together, each of the Men of Oregon were proud of their upset win.

“Our
training has been going very well,” said Elkaim, speaking on behalf of
the team. “Coach [Andy] Powell says it was the best ever [training
camp]. We didn’t believe him but today helped us believe that. It was a
step in the right direction.”

The only blemish on the Ducks results –if you could call it one– was Parker Stinson’s 18th place finish.

Satisfied,
though not overwhelmingly happy, was Oregon coach Powell, a native of
Massachusetts. Powell, who still holds the state high school record for
the Franklin Park 5-km course, made note that the upperclassmen needed
to run better in the future if they want to contend for a national
title.

In a ceremony after the race, Powell was inducted into
the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association Athletes Hall of
Fame, an honor that went to both Powell and his wife and fellow Oregon
coach Maurica Powell. Asked by Race Results Weekly if the day could
have been any better, between the team win and the honor ceremony, he
said yes.

“I think we certainly could have swept and went one,
two, three, four, five, so then it would have been better,” he said
frankly. “And I think those guys [Oregon], if they are happy with their
performance and don’t continue to improve, we probably won’t be good at
the NCAA’s. We still have a long ways to go and it’s only September.”

Preventing
the Oregon sweep was Hehir in third, as well as Providence’s Julian
Saad taking fifth. In the team scores, Oregon tallied 22 total points,
well ahead of Syracuse’s 69, Providence’s 81, and Wisconsin’s 88.

SISSON LEADS TOP RANKED PROVIDENCE TO EASY WIN

On
the women’s side, the number-one ranked Providence Friars controlled
the five kilometer race from start to finish, with senior Emily Sisson
taking the individual title.

From the gun, Sisson, fellow
senior Laura Nagel, and sophomore Sarah Mary Collins separated from the
group, passing the mile mark just ahead of Boston College’s Liv
Westphal and Cornell’s Rachel Sorna.

Running comfortably quick, the Providence teammates wanted to race as one.

“We were hoping to hang together as long as we could cause we knew we were stronger together,” said Sisson.

Just
as if practicing an hour down the road back home in Rhode Island, the
Friar trio did just that through the two-mile marker. Westphal, a
native of France, was the only athlete in the 146-person field to keep
pace step for step.

Though they entered the well-known
wilderness loop with a mile to go as one, Sisson exited all alone up
front. Leading with roughly 800 meters remaining, she would never look
back, going on to win in 16:51.

Seven seconds behind Sisson
came Nagel in second, while Boston College’s Westphal overtook Collins
for the third spot. Fourth went to Cornell’s Sorna.

When asked
if she gained confidence and was excited about the win, Sisson said
yes, though quickly turned her attention to Providence’s team success.

“At
the same time, training with these girls and seeing each other
improving, we are excited where we can go,” she said. Last year,
Providence was the second-place team at the NCAA National Championships
behind the University of Oregon.

The overwhelming team win for
Providence –scoring 50 points to Oregon’s 85 and Cornell’s 101–
solidified their top spot ranking. Entering the race, Oregon was third
in the most recent USTFCCCA poll, with Cornell ninth.

“Every race we just want to prove that we can be number one,” said Nagel.

Rounding
out Providence’s scoring five were freshman Catarina Rocha, seventh
overall, and senior Erin Murphy, who placed 37th. The Friars next major
competition will be on October 19 at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.

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