On Saturday, the Oregon Ducks will be taking the track at Hayward for the Pepsi Invitational. Oregon will host Texas A&M, Washington, and Washington State in a meet that is already shaping up to showcase top national competition. The women go into the weekend ranked 2nd in the polls and the men are ranked 4th.
The women are in the chase for the Triple Crown after back-to-back cross country and indoor track and field championships while the men have boasted success with a number of athletes this year. With the yellow and green climbing their way to the top, much is at stake at the Pepsi Invitational, and for viewers there will be plenty to watch. Here’s some matchups, runners, and events to keep your eyes on:
Women’s 4×100 Relay
Not only will Gardner be competing in the 4×100 relay but her speed will be put to the test in the 200. Gardner is the defending 100 meter champ and will face off against Texas A&M’s Kamaria Brown who leads the nation with a time of 22.85. Last year Gardner was victorious at the Pepsi Invitational 200 (23.24) but Brown could best her in this fast foot race. This may be the match-up of the meet.
This week Hasay was named the Pac-12 Athlete of the Week – one of many honors the senior All-American has earned this season. Hasay tried her hand at the 10,000 meter during the Stanford Invitational and finished as the top collegian and third overall with a 32:46.68 time. It was the top time in the nation this season and second best in school history. The long distance star has already earned national honors this year from cross country and indoor track and field and is on course to complete the outdoor season on top. She will compete in the 1500 with fellow All-Americans Christine Babcock of Washington and teammate Becca Friday. Last year All-American Friday came in first during the Pepsi Invitational 1500. Look for her to repeat.
Thomas made headlines with his three wins at the Oregon Preview March 16. It was a record breaking day as Thomas anchored the men’s 4×100 relay team for a meet record 40.35. He also ran a PR (10.31) in the 100 that stacked up second nationally and finished the day with a 200 meter victory. Following his day at Hayward, Thomas was named Pac-12 Track and Field Athlete of the Week. He’ll compete in the 100 during the Invitational, facing the competition of No. 2 Ameer Webb (10.14) and No. 14 Michael Bryan (10.34) of Texas A&M. Thomas goes into the meet ranked No. 9.
Some of the best javelin throwers in the country will convene at Hayward this weekend for what is easily the most anticipated field event of the Invitational. Four top ten throwers will go head to head at the meet including Olympic Trials gold medalist Sam Humphries of Texas A&M and silver medalist Sam Crouser of Oregon. No. 6 Devin Bogert of the Aggies and No. 7 Ryan Zimmerman of Washington are also in the mix of what will be tense competition.
Cabral is this week’s Pac-12 Athlete for the Week after his strong showing at the Texas Relays. Cabral won the 110 meter hurdles at the Texas Relays for a national best time of 13.33. The time would have counted as the second-fastest in Pac-12 history and tied the school record if it weren’t for above legal winds during the race. Cabral will have a chance to repeat his success as he finds himself in a rematch with the Aggies’ Wayne Davis. For Cabral it’s hopeful the winds will be in his favor.
Other Events & Faces On The Track
Men’s 1500: No. 2 Matt Miner (Oregon), No. 4 Elijah Greer (Oregon), and No. 5 Joey Bywater (Washiongton) will face off in the long distance challenge.
Men’s 400: All-American Mike Berry (Oregon) will run against No. 6 Ricky Babineaux (Texas A&M). Berry is currently on the Bowerman Watch list for “also receiving mention” category.
Women’s 400: Oregon All-Americans Phyllis Francis and Chizoba Okodogbe will make their season debut against No. 3 Shawna Fermin (Washiongton State). Francis won at the Invitational last year.
Anne Kesselring: Kesselring is ranked #4 and won the 800 (2:05.46) at last year’s Invitational.
Samantha Saldivar is on Twitter. Follow her at @SammySaldivar