Updated: Aug 10, 2018
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Since this article has been published, Ben Thomas was hired to coach the Oregon Ducks distance crew, Brodey Hasty earned a release from his NLI to go to Northern Arizona, and Josh Hoey is not listed on the 2018 roster. Oregon would not have been ranked given their current circumstances.
It has been an absolutely wild year for the Oregon Ducks distance group when you consider all of their storylines. In the middle of last summer, the transfer of James West gave Oregon another weapon to compensate for the loss of Edward Cheserek. This past spring, the Duck were able to put four men under 3:40 for 1500 meters. Most recently, the Powell's departure has left Oregon looking for a new coach (or coaches).
Yet, maybe one of the more underrated and overlooked headlines was the success of Cooper Teare and Reed Brown. The freshmen duo had a tremendous impact in their first year with the Ducks and quickly rose to become some of the better athletes on the team.
Reed Brown became an All-American while dipping under the 1500/mile barriers of 3:40 and 4:00. Meanwhile, Cooper Teare led a deep Oregon squad throughout cross country, ran 3:59 and 7:53 during indoors, and ran a personal best of 13:46 in the 5000 meters this past spring where he eventually qualified for Nationals.
To say that these two had an influential role during their first year in Eugene would be an understatement. There were plenty of skeptics who were unsure how well these two would adjust to collegiate training and lifestyle. Clearly, any of those doubts were put to rest.
That, however, is what makes these recruiting classes so special. They can completely change the structure and talent pool of your team. Selecting the right guys can change the direction of program for years to come. Or, in Oregon's case, continue the grand success that they've been known for.
Last year, the Ducks recruited (arguably) the two best high schoolers in the nation. This year is no different as Brodey Hasty and Josh Hoey are the two best high school recruits in the nation for their respective distances (and their isn't much argument to be had). Could these two have the same impact (or greater) throughout the 2018-2019 academic year? It's tough to say no...
Our conversation will begin with Brodey Hasty, the Tennessee star who has made an argument for being a top 10 high school distance runner over (at least) the past two decades. It hasn't been just his senior year where he's seen this level of success. The future Duck has been a national contender since his sophomore year and has only improved with each season of competition.
The two-time New Balance national champ has competed against some of the best names that the nation has to offer. Not just in high school, but at the collegiate and even the professional level as well. His 4:00 was run at the Millrose Games in the unseeded men's section where he finished 5th to three sponsored pros and an Ole Miss All-American (Sean Tobin). As if that wasn't enough, Hasty would later run a 3:43 1500 at the Portland Track Classic (which roughly converts to 4:00 for a full mile) and was paced to an 8:00.92 at the Music City Distance Carnival in early June (nearly one second off the outdoor high school national record). To say he had a good season would be almost insulting when you consider his level of fitness.
Of course, Hasty accomplished more than just fast times on the track. After taking the win at the Great American XC Challenge with a 14:32 personal best, Hasty would later win his region in a strong 14:54 performance and enter Nike Cross Nationals as the favorite to win it all. Hasty didn't walk away with the win, but a 3rd place finish is still a huge performance that keeps him in the elite category.
Hasty has dominated at so many distances that we had to cut out his 1:53 and 2:27 (1k) PR's from our graphic just to get his name to fit. His overwhelming control of the longer distances along with his underrated speed makes him the "Drew Hunter-lite" of 2018 high school distance running.
Barring any decisions to redshirt him, I think it's fair to say that Hasty will play a major role for the Ducks within the next year. Oregon has a great chance to fight for a podium spot in cross country and it's very possible that Hasty could find himself within their top seven. Not only that, but the opportunity for him to dip under the mile/3k barriers of 4:00/8:00 are obviously well within reach. He could very easily be the next Cooper Teare, an asset that I'm sure Oregon would love to have.
Of course, Hasty isn't the one and only recruit that Oregon will add to their roster next year. Pennsylvania's Josh Hoey will join the Eugene group with big expectations being placed on his shoulders. He will also be joining his brother, Jaxson Hoey, who transferred from Penn State after his freshman year.
If you haven't heard his name already (which if you're reading TSR, you almost certainly have), then you better learn it quickly. Hoey became the high school indoor national record holder in the 800 after he obliterated the old record of 1:49.21 (set by Robby Andrews in 2009) with a 1:47.67. To not only break, but crush, the old record set by one of the nation's best mid-distance runners ever just goes to show how insanely talented this kid is.
Hoey has yet to reach that mark during the outdoor season, but his back-to-back-to-back 1:48 performances throughout the spring just goes to show that his national record was no fluke. He was also the USATF Junior champion and World Junior Championship qualifier after running 1:49 nearly 10 days ago. He still has one more chance to break the outdoor high school national record (1:46.45) in July since the World Championships are technically still part of his high school season.
As impressive as Hoey's 800 is, that isn't all that he's capable of providing. The 4:07 miler was a Penn Relays champion and Millrose Games champion and New Balance Games champion and VA Showcase 1k champion during his high school career. He's not just a time trial runner, he's a true racer capable of pulling off wins against nearly anyone. Keep in mind that Hoey didn't even race a mile (or 1600) during his final season of spring track. He still has a lot of untapped potential in that event...
The reason Hoey's addition to the Oregon roster is so important is because he fills a major gap. Oregon had the best group of 1500/miler runners in the nation this past spring. In the upcoming winter and spring track seasons, they will return three of their four sub 3:40 guys along with two sub 4:00 milers in Cooper Teare and Blake Haney. It should go without saying that the 1500/mile is not a weak area for this team.
With all of those incredible milers, the Ducks have the potential to put together a record-setting DMR. Unfortunately, the 800 has been a key area of weakness for this group over the past few seasons. In fact, the fastest 800 runner that Oregon had this past winter was Jaxson Hoey who ran 1:52. With Josh Hoey now in an Oregon singlet, he could be the final piece of the puzzle that gives Oregon a national title in the DMR and a potential national record.
The only reason I have Oregon ranked 3rd in these rankings is simply because they only have two recruits. Although I suspect that they will be majorly successful, a heavy portion of the Ducks success is being invested in just these two. The lack of depth within this recruiting class could leave the team vulnerable if they are plagued by a series of injuries or plateaus.
Nonetheless, Hasty and Hoey are a lethal pair who will certainly be a problem for their future PAC 12 rivals. The Ducks coaching situation may still be unclear, but their selection to succeed the Powell's will not downgrade the prestige and reputation of Oregon's success in the distance events.
Earlier this year, we published an article called Life After Cheserek. It detailed the similarities between Oregon's 2015 squad and their current group. I explained that they were primed to become much stronger, even without King Ches in the program. So far, that prophecy seems to be coming true.
You better get used to seeing a lot more green and yellow at NCAA's from now on. With Hasty and Hoey now on the team, the Ducks are looking at a future of endless prosperity and achievements.