The University of Oregon track and field team saw the past and the future collide in the present at the UW Invitational in Seattle.
Running competitively for the Ducks for the first time in a year, senior star Trevor Dunbar of Kodiak faced off with teammate Edward Cheserek, a freshman phenom, in the distance medley relay.
Dunbar had been sidelined with knee and Achilles injuries until last summer when he punctuated his return to competition by breaking the four-minute barrier in the mile, the first Alaskan to do so.
The UW Invitational marked the first time Dunbar has run for the Ducks since the 2012 cross country season. Oregon coaches put Dunbar and Cheserek on separate teams, setting up their first head-to-head matchup.
“I have that in my mind,” Dunbar told GoDucks.com. “I want to be on the (distance medley relay) team and I think this is going to be a step to prove my worth. I know it’s not going to be easy, either, but it’s a healthy competition.”
Dunbar is a two-time NCAA All-American and the Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year in cross country. Cheserek is the reigning NCAA cross country champion making his indoor debut.
This is how the race shaped up according to OregonLive.com:
The two teams were even through almost the entirety of the race with the “white” team holding a slight edge heading into the mile-long anchor leg ran by Cheserek (white) and Dunbar (yellow). Dunbar took the lead on Cheserek about halfway through the leg but Cheserek had something left in the tank, and a strong kick motored him to the finish line first by almost a three-second margin.
Times for both teams were among the four fastest in the country this year.
Van Williams, a 20-year local sports writer and the former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News, writes about the athletic exploits of Alaskans for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.