Runs Like a Duck (2017 Penn Relays Notebook)

Robert Cole/ALOST
Oregon's Raevyn Rogers runs the 800-meter anchor leg as the Ducks put on a record-setting performance in the sprint relay at The Penn Relays. (Robert Cole/ALOST)
Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers runs the 800-meter anchor leg as the Ducks put on a record-setting performance in the sprint medley championship at The Penn Relays on Friday. (Robert Cole/ALOST)

PHILADELPHIA — Not only did the Oregon Ducks’ women’s 1600-meter sprint medley team come back to the City of Brotherly Love to successfully defend a championship, it finished the race as the new meet and collegiate record holders in that very event.

Not even the fact that the new national record lasted as long as it took to complete the race from start to finish could dampen the team’s spirits on a near-cloudless Friday afternoon at one of the most prestigious track and field events in the world.

The quartet of Makenzie Dunmore, Deajah Stevens, Hannah Waller and Raevyn Rogers lifted Oregon to a defense of its Women’s Sprint Medley Championship of America title at the 123rd edition of The Penn Relays, scorching the field at a blistering 3:39.05 and shaving more than two-and-a-half seconds off of the 13-year-old Penn Relays record, previously held by the University of Tennessee. The meet was especially special to Stevens, the 2016 Olympian who grew up just two hours away in Westchester County, just north of New York City.

“I’ve been running Penn Relays since I was in high school,” said Stevens, the junior who placed seventh while representing the United States in the 200-meter final in Rio last year. “I get to see a lot of family and a lot of friends, and I like running on this track. I love the energy, so it was a great experience.”

Oregon’s record time was more than four seconds faster than Middle Tennessee, who finished second in the final here in Philadelphia (3:43.67). Unfortunately, that new collegiate standard set by the Ducks was very short-lived, as Texas A&M’s sprint medley team, just four minutes after the Ducks finished setting the record, beat Oregon’s mark by one-hundredth of a second (3:39.04) during the inaugural SEC Relays in Baton Rouge. While probably not immediately aware of what the Aggies did by the time their race ended, the Ducks were still in the middle of taking in their own accomplishments and figuring out what to make of setting a new collegiate record.

“My secret to resilience is practicing hard,” said junior Raevyn Rogers, the anchor leg in today’s race who has won individual NCAA titles at 800 meters in both indoor and outdoor. “It’s a struggle between being talented, having to balance being in school, knowing you have a target on your back, and still staying in control. Our coaches help us stay in balance and don’t put a lot of pressure on us.”

The sprint medley team also broke its sixth collegiate record of the season in the process, as the ladies are rounding into form as the NCAA outdoor championships – held in early June in Eugene – comes closer to view.


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