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Ducks Take Coast to Coast XC

CHESEREK LEADS OREGON MEN TO VICTORY AT COAST-TO-COAST BATTLE IN BEANTOWN
**Liv Westphal Earns Hometown Win As Michigan Dominates Women’s Team Competition**
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

BOSTON
(26-Sep) — For the University of Oregon Ducks, a 2,580 mile trek east
from their home in Eugene was well worth the flight,
as the
third-ranked men’s team earned a dominant win here at the Boston
College Coast-to-Coast Battle In Beantown. Led by reigning
NCAA Cross
Country champion Edward Cheserek and New Hampshire native Eric Jenkins,
the men of Oregon scored a mere 24 points,
topping east coast powers
Syracuse and Providence. On the women’s side, Boston College’s own Liv
Westphal broke from a strong field to
claim the individual title on her
home course, as the pre-race favorite Michigan Wolverines took the team
crown.

EDWARD CHESEREK, ERIC JENKINS LEAD DUCKS TO STRONG WIN

A
year ago, the Oregon Ducks came to Boston’s Franklin Park cross country
course and put on a show, winning the 8-kilometer race by
 47 points.
Edward Cheserek, only a freshman, won the individual race with teammate
and fellow freshman Jake Leingang by his side.

Twelve months
later, Cheserek would again be out in front of the field at the finish,
this time joined stride for stride by teammate Eric Jenkins. Working
together in both practice and executing their strategy to perfection
during today’s race, the duo took control of the contest in its latter
stages and never looked back.

“I was trying to bring my teammates together,” said Cheserek, 20. “Coach was like, ‘Run as a team, find each other up there.'”

Through
a pedestrian opening mile in 4:55 and two miles in 10:08, it was
clearly evident that no individual or team wanted to test the waters
and make a move.

In their bright yellow vests, the men of
Oregon expected this, sitting back and letting the rest of the field
lead. As the kilometers passed, Providence’s Shane Quinn and Benjamin
Connor took over the pacing, all the while Jenkins and Cheserek sat
behind rounding up their fellow Ducks.

“It was perfect, that
was exactly the plan. Coach wanted us to start out running as a pack
and get everyone together and finish one-two,” said Jenkins.

After
going up famed Bearcage Hill for the final time, it was Cheserek and
Jenkins emerging well out in front, leaving the rest of the field
behind. Down the final straight, Cheserek looked at his friend and
teammate and motioned to finish together. That they did, both crossing
the line in 24:20. Cheserek was officially credited with the win by the
slimmest of margins.

“Coming down here is just a tune-up, see
where I am for now,” Cheserek said following a lengthy cool-down run.
“I feel a little bit better than last year. I was a freshman coming
from high school out of shape. This year it’s just like starting
getting there. I still have a lot of work to do.”

Both Cheserek
and Jenkins, as well as coach Andy Powell, emphasized that Oregon came
here to work on team tactics and win as a group. Scoring 24 points,
they finished well up on Syracuse (52), Providence (79), and Georgetown
(103).

“The goal was, we knew Syracuse was good and Providence
was good. Coach Powell wanted our guys to be in front of Syracuse’s and
Providence’s number two guys,” said Jenkins. “I think for the most part
we did that… I knew the team would do well and we just came down from
a really good training camp.”

Coach Powell, who attended Oliver
Ames High School here in Massachusetts and is regarded as one of the
state’s best ever prep runners, said that Cheserek and Jenkins have
made quite the tandem in practice, pushing each other to improve.
Combined with the school’s impressive team depth, Oregon looked
impenetrable today.

“They executed well,” said Powell, a white
Oregon capped pulled down over his eyes. “All in all pretty good. We
left some good guys back home too so I think once we get the whole
group together it’ll be pretty exciting to see where they go.”

Powell
also noted that Cheserek has shown vast improvement from a year ago,
saying that the Kenyan-born sophomore has lost a few pounds and is
steadily building off an impressive outdoor track season.

“He
is a lot better than he was last year, that’s for sure,” said Powell
with a confident chuckle, a signal of fast times to come. “He’s a much
different runner than he was last year.”

Behind Cheserek and
Jenkins came Providence’s Brian Doyle (24:27) and Syracuse’s Martin
Hehir (24:31). Oregon teammates Daniel Winn and Sam Prakel were fifth
and sixth.

LIV WESTPHAL WINS ON HOME COURSE WHILE MICHIGAN CAPTURES TEAM VICTORY

Entering
today’s 5-kilometer women’s race, Boston College’s Liv Westphal thought
there would be no better way to honor her school than with a win on
home turf. Three years ago, Boston College welcomed the native of
Limoges, France, with open arms. This was her chance to say, ‘thank
you.’

Determined to emerge victorious (she finished third last
year), Westphal ran with gusto and resolve, not deterred by the strong
field that saw ranked teams like Michigan, Georgetown, Syracuse and
Providence competing.

After an opening mile of 5:11, Westphal
made a decisive move on Bearcage Hill, dropping Michigan sophomore Erin
Finn, Georgetown’s Katrina Coogan, and Dartmouth’s Dana Giordano. From
there on, the 20-year-old ran alone out in front.

By two miles
her lead was ten seconds on Finn, a number that would ultimately grow
to 21 seconds at the finish. Down the final stretch with less than five
meters remaining, Westphal raised her arms slightly in celebration.
Etched across her face was a grand smile as she won in 16:30.

“It
means a real lot,” said Westphal, who retains her French accent. “I’m
French and I came to BC three years ago. I’m a senior now and time has
just flown by. I cannot believe I am a senior now, and Boston is really
my home now. I don’t know, I love this course and my teammates are my
American family. I’m very attached to it. It’s my last cross country
season and I think I was owing this to Boston.”

Westphal raced
very well in cross country last year, taking sixth an the European
Championships Under-23 race and 17th at the NCAA Cross Country
Championships. This year, her goal is to finish in the top fifteen at
the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., while guiding the Eagles
to a team birth.

“It’s actually the first year over the summer
I’ve trained specifically toward cross country, because previous years
I’ve just trained for European Championships,” said Westphal. “I’m
really excited not only about my shape, but our team in general because
we are going to be really strong.”

Finn wound up second in
16:51, followed by teammate Shannon Osika in 17:03. Coogan was fourth
in 17:07, with Cornell’s Taylor Spillane rounding out the top five in
17:09.

“Liv just had a wonderful day. She was the best runner
out on the course today,” said Finn. “She was definitely feeling better
than I was. She definitely knows this course. Every time we went around
a corner she was a few more meters ahead of me. She really used the
tactic to psyche me out and it worked, so props to her.”

In
part thanks to Finn and Osika’s top-three finishes, Michigan earned a
commanding team win with 55 points. Second went to Georgetown (77),
with Syracuse (134), Boston College (192), and Dartmouth (207) making
up the top five. Reigning national champion Providence College was
sixth, 211 their score.

“I thought we were solid. Our first
four I thought ran quite well,” said Michigan coach Mike McGuire. The
Wolverines are currently ranked first by the U.S. Track & Field and
Cross Country Coaches Association. “Overall, solid, but we have plenty
of work to do.”

PHOTO: Liv Westphal of Boston
College wining the 2014 Boston College Coast-to-Coast Battle In
Beantown (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

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