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Oregon pins its hopes on freshman named Cheserek

Published by
Armory Track News   Jun 11th 2014, 2:41pm

By Jack Pfeifer

He’s only a freshman, but Edward Cheserek (St. Benedict’s Prep, Newark, NJ) is already a veteran champion, and Oregon’s men’s team hopes to contend for this year’s team championship partly on his slender teenage shoulders. In half a year, Cheserek has won the NCAA cross country championship, upsetting a past champion, fellow Kenyan Kennedy Kithuka; won two NCAA indoor championships, the 3k and 5k, defeating a defending champion, another Kenyan star, Lawi Lalang of Arizona, and helped the Ducks win two championships at the Penn Relays, for which he was named outstanding competitor. What a resume.

At the NCAA this week in Eugene, where the host Ducks have not won the team title in 30 years, Cheserek is running the 10k, where he will face Kithuka, and the 5k, where he will face Lalang. Lalang, who defeated Cheserek in the Pac-12 championships in a very fast 1,500 – both running 3:36 – is also entered in the 1,500, where he will likely face another Duck, Mac Fleet, the defending champion in that event.

Cheserek is one of 32 New Jersey natives, representing 28 different college teams, at this week’s Championships, according to the Armory’s survey.

In addition to Cheserek, they include such championship contenders as Stephen Mozia (Hackensack), shot and discus for Cornell; Marielle Hall (Hadfonfield Memorial), 5k for Texas; Jim and Joe Rosa (West Windsor Plainsboro North), distances for Stanford; Najee Glass (St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City), 400 and 4x4 for Florida; Corey Crawford (Indian Hills, Oakland), long jump for Rutgers, and Nick Vena (Morristown), shot put for Georgia.

Vena, a recordsetter in high school, has struggled to regain that form in college. Now at his second school, Vena had a big PR 66-10 ¼ at the East Regional to put himself in the championship picture, along with his old high school rival, Mozia. Mozia, who has put 68 feet for Cornell, never beat Vena in high school. Vena and Mozia both will be underdogs to Ryan Crouser of Texas, who has gone beyond 70 feet this spring and will be competing on his home turf at Hayward Field, where he won numerous state high school championships in the shot and disc.

Glass, 3rd in the SEC 400 (45.40), ran leadoff on the Gators’ nation-leading 2:59 4x4 early this spring.

Other competitors from the Garden State include Patrick Rono (Arkansas/Lyndhurst), 800; Hafsatu Kamara (Cal State-Northridge/Nottingham-Hamilton), 4x4; Faith Dismuke (U Conn/Mary Help Academy-Haledon), 4x4; Dana Giordano (Dartmouth/Bernardsville), 5k; Chelsea Cox (Georgetown/Southern Regional), 800; Michelle Brown (Notre Dame/Seneca-Tabernacle), 400/4x4; Sam Mattis (Penn/East Brunswick), DT; Hannah Meyer (Harvard/Northern Highlands Regional), jav, and Erika Veidis (Harvard/Sparta), 800.

Texas, contending for the women’s team title, is looking to Hall, a senior, for good points in the 5,000. Hall, Big 12 champion in the 1,500, ran 15:19.26 in the 5 at Stanford in April. 

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