XC COUNTDOWN: #4 Oregon Men
Andy Powell (10th Year)
JR Matt Melancon (8:14 3k; 14:09 5k; 29:31 10k; 97th NCAA XC '12; 239th NCAA XC '13)
We could start and end this discussion with the name Edward Cheserek. He had a perfect cross country season, winning as a freshman in a race that seemed as if he has no chance to capture a title. He came back on the track with a national indoor 3000 meter victory and then captured the NCAA outdoor 10,000 meter crown in front of his home crowd. His best time on paper though was his runner up 13:18 in the thrilling 5000 meters at the outdoor nationals. And try to get your head around the fact that he was only a freshman. It already seems like he has been around forever.
Oregon did not have Eric Jenkins last year in cross, but he is one scary guy at any distance. The senior transfer from Northeastern ran 13:27 for 5k on the track last year, which is actually not as good as the 13:18 he ran before he transferred.
So what does Coach Andy Powell have for his mid pack boys?
French steepler Tanguy Pepiot managed 58th in his inaugural NCAA meet. And Oregon follows Pepiot with sophomore Jake Leingang, who ran consistently last fall and grabbed the 149th spot as a freshman. Junior Matt Melancon has to be more like his 97th 2012 race and less like his 239th spot in 2013 to break into the top five. He redeemed himself on the track with 14:09 and 29:31 times in the 5k and 10k.
Top freshman recruit, Blake Haney was second in the Nike Nationals last year and ran extremely fast on the track with 4:04 for the mile and 8:46 for 3200. The Californian star will be someone to keep an eye on for Freshman of the Year. He certainly has the credentials to get it done.
If any of these should stumble, Jeramy Elkaim lurks in the shadows. He had an okay year on grass in 2012 with his 159th place finish, but his 13:39 5k indoors in the winter of 2013 puts him in a different league. Oregon has the potential to win it all behind Cheserek's almost certain number one stick. Winning happens at Oregon and while we rank them number four here, don't count them out for the win, especially if their numbers 3-5 excel.