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Oregon men make statement, loud and clear.

Byline: Curtis Anderson The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - Shortly after the completion of the first 2,000-meter loop at the second annual Bill Dellinger Invitational at Springfield Country Club on Saturday, nearly all of the runners on the third-ranked Oregon men's team were still tightly bunched with the lead pack.

It was a development that led to this exchange from a couple of wide-eyed spectators, who were among the nearly 1,000 fans who lined the 8,000-meter course on a cool but partly sunny morning.

`Look at those Oregon jerseys,' they said. `and that's without Galen.'

Even without their No. 1 runner, junior all-American Galen Rupp, the Ducks were able to easily defend their title at the cross country meet as they bested the 15-team field with a first-place performance of 54 points.

Among their victims was top-ranked Wisconsin, which took second with 73 points, followed by No. 17 Alabama (111), No. 11 Portland (137), No. 21 UCLA (147) and No. 6 Texas-El Paso (148).

Oregon was paced by junior Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott, who stayed with the leaders until the very end, when the Badgers' Matt Withrow used a strong finishing kick to pull away for individual honors at 23 minutes, 20 seconds.

Kiptoo-Biwott took second with a 23:24 clocking, a few strides ahead of the Alabama tandem of Emmanuel Bor and Augustus Maiyo, who placed third and fourth, respectively, in 23:26 and 23:30.

UCLA's Austin Ramos rounded out the top five at 23:37.

`It was good to bring the title back home,' Kiptoo-Biwott said. `All of us have been working very hard, and I knew we had a shot ... the ball is rolling now. We're on the move and we're headed in the right direction.'

A tight lead pack made the difference for the Ducks with only 29 seconds separating their top five runners.

Senior Carlos Trujillo turned in his best performance for Oregon with a ninth-place finish at 23:46, followed by sophomore Kenny Klotz (12th, 23:49), freshman Danny Mercado (15th, 23:53) and sophomore Diego Mercado (16th, 23:53).

`The guys did a lot of things really well,' UO director of track and field Vin Lananna said. `We stayed bunched up, which was one of our goals, to keep our groups together, and I think we did a reasonably good job of that.'

Wisconsin was also missing one of its elite runners.

Junior Stu Eagon, a former standout from Beaverton High School, didn't make the trip because of a sprained ankle. Eagon was Wisconsin's top finisher at last year's NCAA meet in which the Badgers placed second to Colorado.

In his absence, Withrow, a junior, took charge for the Badgers.

`I was banged up last year,' he said. `Cross country wasn't bad, but my track season was garbage, so it felt great to come out here and run again.

`I've been away from running fast for awhile, so a flat course like this was a tough way to come back, but oh my gosh, the backdrop to this race was just amazing. It's such beautiful country.'

The Ducks will be back at the Springfield Country Club in six weeks to host the NCAA West Regional championships. For the most part, Lananna was satisfied with the way the course held up on Saturday.

`We'll make some tweaks,' he said.

`I'll wait for some feedback from the coaches from Washington, UCLA, Portland and Oregon State, and see what they have to say. If they think there's something I should do differently, we'll do it.'

But he wouldn't change the outcome.

`What a great day,' he said. `Hopefully, it's a good start for the rest of the season.

"I'm so glad these teams came out here to support the meet, and that Bill Dellinger was out here to watch. It was great for us and great for the sport.'

Wayne Eastburn / The Register-Guard

CAPTION(S):

UO's Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott (center) stuck with leaders Emmanuel Bor (left) of Alabama and Matt Withrow of Wisconsin in the late stages, eventually finishing second to Withrow. "It was good to bring the title back home. ... We're on the move and we're headed in the right direction" - SHADRACK KIPTOO-BIWOTT, OREGON JUNIOR
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 30, 2007
Words:698
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