XC COUNTDOWN: #5 Oregon Women



Head Coach:
Mauricia Powell (9th Year)

Last Year:
4th Pac-12
3rd West Region
14th NCAA 

Probable Top Five:
JR Waverly Neer (9:08 3k; 15:37 5k; 219th NCAA XC '13)*
FR Sarah Baxter (4:49 1600m; 10:06 3200m; 3x NXN, 1st, 1st, 3rd)
JR Annie Leblanc (2:04 800m; 4:17 1500m; 66th NCAA XC '13)
SO Maggie Schmaedick (9:35 3k; 16:18 5k; 34:55 10k; 81st NCAA XC '13)
JR Molly Grabill (16:01 5k; 35:10 10k; 101st NCAA XC '13)

Impact Freshman/Recruits:
Sarah Baxter - Simi Valley, CA (4:49 1600m; 10:06 3200m; 3x NXN, 1st, 1st, 3rd)
Frida Berge - Norway (4:18 1500m; 9:36 3k; 16:17 5k)
Waverly Neer - From Columbia (9:08 3k; 15:37 5k; 219th NCAA XC '13)*
Brianna Nerud - From Syracuse (4:24 1500m; 16:43 5k; 10:00 3k Steeple)*

*Transfer

Analysis:
Let’s face it. There will be no tougher conference in the country this year than the women’s PAC 12. Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Stanford, and even Utah, are all teams that should be able to book hotels and flights to Terre Haute early.

Oregon will be there simply because they have brought in some extremely experienced and proven talents to shore up what was already a fairly good returning team.

They could have as many as four new comers in their top five with transfer Waverly Neer of Columbia leading the way. Now granted, Neer’s 219th performance at last year’s race was less than stellar and certainly not within shouting distance of her quality 15:37 5k she ran on the track last year. She should have that stinker race out of her system, and as a Duck, she should be someone that Coach Powell can count on as a low stick.

Brianna Nerud, a transfer from Syracuse, is a bit of an enigma. She doesn’t have a great cross country pedigree, but she has been an outstanding steeplechase runner and has been a member of  the USA Junior team in that discipline. So her 4:24 for 1500m and 10:00 flat steeple are very good times, and she should be a factor for the Ducks this fall.

Oregon  got a great high school cross country recruit in Californian, Sarah Baxter. She was a two time Nike Nationals Cross Country champion and third her senior year. Her 10:06 for 3200 meters has her among the all time fastest US high school girls. She should make a good transition to college as she is already accustomed to regularly competing against top flight high school competition.

There are the top four new pieces to Coach Powell’s puzzle. Along with this group, there are three returnees from last year’s 14th place team led by Annie Leblanc, who as a sophomore was 66th in the Nationals and has put down PR’s of 2:04 for 800m and 4:17 for 1500m. Right along with Leblanc is fellow junior Molly Grabill who ran a very good 16:01 5k on the track and was 101st in last year’s race. Sophomore Maggie Schmaedick actually bested Grabill in last year’s race with her 81st place effort. She also ran under 35 minutes in the 10k on the track last spring.

There is very, very good talent in Eugene this fall. Not new news, but consistent news. Coach Mauricia Powell has assembled a fine team, and if past experience can predict future behavior, she will get them close to the podium. Her Women of Oregon might even grab one of those cherished four spots.

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#6 Florida State Women

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