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Ducks Kick Off Indoor Season with Two School Records
By Steve Ritchie
January 15, 2011

Becca Friday - University of Oregon
EUGENE - While the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are nearly five months away, the University of Oregon's acclaimed freshmen class has already made a statement. A couple of months ago, Track & Field News picked Oregon's 2010 track and field recruiting classes (men and women) as the top group of freshmen in the U.S.

At Saturday's UW Indoor Preview, UO freshmen Phyllis Francis and English Gardner, both recruited from the East Coast, set school records. Gardner ran 7.29 in the 60 meters, eclipsing teammate Amber Purvis' 2010 mark of 7.30. Gardner's time would have tied for the seventh-fastest among collegians last year.

 

Phyllis Francis
English Gardner
Anne Kesselring

Francis' time in the 600 meters is even more impressive, as her 1:27.38 is the fourth-fastest indoor 600 ever for an American woman. Francis was also a decisive winner over UO teammates Anne Kesselring, a sophomore, and fellow frosh Laura Roessler. Kesselring finished in 1:29.73 and Roessler recorded a 1:29.80. Roessler was ranked second nationally by Track & Field News in the high school women's 800 in 2010, while Francis was sixth on the publication's 800 list.

With solid 800 meter runners Zoe Buckman, Chloe Steinbeck, and Becca Friday also on the roster, it appears that Oregon could field one, or maybe even two, pretty imposing 4x800 meter relay teams. (However, Buckman's eligibility may run out at the conclusion of the indoor season).

Chloe Steinbeck
Zoe Buckman
Melissa Gergel

More importantly, the early season showing by a few of Oregon's new athletes bodes well for their chances to repeat as NCAA indoor champs and, perhaps, overtake Texas A&M for the outdoor title in June.

Senior Melissa Gergel opened her season with a very strong performance in the pole vault, clearing 14 feet, 1 and 3/4 inches to place second at the Preview behind Stanford's Katerina Stefanidi. The vault gave Gergel the lead among U.S. women, though the indoor season is just getting started.
 
 

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