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Ritchie: UO, USC Women Set to Battle for Pac-12 T&F Title

The two track and field powers have dominated the Conference Championships since 2009

Posted on May 11, 2023


  By Steve Ritchie, SuperWest Sports

For the past decade, the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships have been an ongoing title struggle between the same two teams.

Pac-12Now it looks like another episode in that epic saga will be unveiled this weekend at Hillmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, California.

Since 2009 the Oregon Ducks have won ten women’s conference titles, including a streak of nine straight from 2009-17.

The only team stopping Oregon from complete dominance has been USC.

From 2014-17 the Trojans settled for the runner-up spot before finally breaking through to claim the championship in 2018.

Two more Trojan wins followed before Oregon turned the tables last year, winning in Eugene while USC fell to fourth place.

The two rivals have also combined for four NCAA Championships—two for each school—since 2015.

While neither is a contender to win a national title in Austin this season, both will be in the mix for a top-four team finish at NCAAs.

The Ducks are currently ranked fourth nationally by the USTFCCCA, with the Trojans just one spot behind them.

The superiority of those two teams over the rest of the Pac-12 has continued even though both schools have undergone significant coaching changes.

Oregon released Robert Johnson last summer and Caryl Smith Gilbert left USC to become the head coach at Georgia in 2021.

Schumacher
Watts

But it appears little has changed under new program heads—Jerry Schumacher at Oregon and Quincy Watts at USC.

The Trojans are still loaded with sprinters, hurdlers, and jumpers while their foes from up north still have a balanced team, with standouts throughout the track and the field.

On paper, this looks like another close meet.

My formchart has the Trojans garnering 98 points from five events: 100, 100 hurdles, 200, 400, and 400 hurdles. The Ducks have talent in the sprints and hurdles, but little depth. I have them picking up 31 points in those events.

Adding to USC’s total are projected wins in both relays, giving them 118 points on the track.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Oregon will gain some ground in the mid-distance races but does not have its usual strength in the longer races, where Stanford, Utah, and Colorado will pick up most of the points.

The Ducks are positioned to pick up major points in some disciplines where they typically are not strong.

usc logoThe shot put, discus and hammer could yield up to 40 or more points for Oregon, while USC will be fortunate to pick up a few points there.

Overall, though, USC’s big haul in the sprints and hurdles will be too much. My prediction is the Trojans by 12 points, 160-148.


Some Pac-12 Standouts Competing at the Conference Meet
van Klinken

Jorinde van Klinken, Oregon – The grad transfer from ASU set the NCAA Indoor record in the shot earlier this year and currently is the national leader in the discus at 220-0/67.05m.

The Dutch national also holds her country’s national record in the discus.

Jones

Allie Jones, USC – After setting the Stanford school record in the heptathlon and placing fourth in the hep at the 2022 NCAAs, Jones transferred to USC for her grad year.

The multi-event national leader could also score points in the 100 hurdles and the long jump for the Trojans.

Purchase

Anna Purchase, Cal – The British national placed second at last year’s Pac-12 meet in the hammer throw behind NCAA record holder and teammate Camryn Rogers.

She has the best mark in the NCAA this season, 239’7”/73.02m. She previously competed for Nebraska.

Campbell

Nastassja Campbell, Washington – Campbell, a grad transfer who previously competed for Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin, cleared 14-11 at the Mt. Sac Relays last month, the best outdoor collegiate mark this season.

Her best is nearly a foot higher than her nearest conference rival.

Plourde

Simone Plourde and Emily Venters, Utah – It’s not a surprise that Pac-12 women are leading the nation in distance races.

Venters

It is surprising that Utah runners are the ones leading instead of their conference rivals from Colorado, Stanford, and Oregon.

Venters has the #1 mark in the 10K nationally (31:48.35) and Plourde is #2 in the 5K (15:21.19). Just for good measure, Venters is also third in the 5000.

Mitchell
Fetherstonaugh

Kaylee Mitchell and Grace Fetherstonaugh, Oregon State – This senior duo has put OSU on the map in collegiate distance running.

Mitchell ranks second nationally in the steeplechase (9:39.45), while Fetherstonhaugh is fourth and also has top ten marks in the 1500 and 5000.




—More from Steve Ritchie—