ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Confident, in control, and running just a stride or two behind the leader.
It was exactly where Edward Cheserek wanted to be -- until he wanted the lead.
With 300 meters to go in the men's 5,000, the Oregon freshman exploded past Arizona's Lawi Lalang and kicked his way to his second national title on Friday at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Cheserek finished in 13 minutes, 46.67 seconds. Lalang, the defending champion and meet record-holder, was second in 13:52.83.
Oregon junior Parker Stinson finished third in 13:54.46, the best finish of his career at an NCAA championship meet.
"My plan was to just relax, stay in the back behind Lawi all the time and with (300) to go I said 'Ok I gotta go,'" said Cheserek, also the 2013 NCAA cross-country champion.
Cheserek's win was just one highlight of an almost perfect day for No. 6 Oregon. Between the 16 points scored in the 5,000 and a surprise second-place finish in the distance medley relay, the Ducks are the leaders with 24 points heading into today's action.
"Huge day on the men's side," Oregon coach Robert Johnson said. "Even better than we expected."
It was a different story for the No. 2 Oregon women, whose quest for an NCAA record-tying fifth straight indoor title might be in jeopardy after the Ducks scored just six points on Friday to sit in a tie for 14th.
Freshman Jasmine Todd, ranked No. 2 in the long jump, finished sixth, but only after a disqualification moved her up a spot. The third-ranked DMR team also finished sixth.
But the Duck women did qualify everyone they needed to for today's finals, including Todd and Jenna Prandini in the 60. Todd rebounded from her performance in the long jump to win her preliminary heat in 7.23.
"You gotta come back some way, you know," said Todd, whose best mark in the long jump was 20 feet, 2Â 1/2 inches, though she passed on her final attempt to run the 60. "You gotta redeem yourself somehow, and that was my way of redeeming myself, of letting myself know I'm still ready, I'm still here. You can't just give up because you had a bad day on one event."
Phyllis Francis broke the school record in the 400 with a time of 51.29, Sasha Wallace set a new American junior record in the 60 hurdles in 8.08, and Laura Roesler advanced in the 800.
"For those points that we didn't get that we expected to get, somebody's got to step up and get those somewhere," Johnson said.
"That'll be the rallying cry and the talk that we have later tonight or in the morning."
Dakotah Keys got the Ducks going on Friday with the best first-day performance of his career in the heptathlon. The junior scored 3,266 points and sits in sixth place overall through four events.
Keys was in 11th place overall through two events after finishing 10th in the 60 (7.15) and 11th in the long jump (23-2).
But he moved up to ninth after the shot put when he threw a PR 44-0Â 1/2 on his final attempt and then followed with a PR in the high jump (6-11Â 1/2).
Then, in the men's mile, Oregon's Mac Fleet kicked past Lalang in a semifinal heat to win in 4:04.13. Lalang, the defending NCAA champion and meet record holder in that event as well, finished in 4:04.27.
"Dakotah started us off so great today," Stinson said. "He's gonna move up from there, and the only thing we really watched today was Mac's mile, and I was just, not inspired that he won, but it just made me feel good about myself watching how he ran. He was slow, relaxed, and, sure enough, everything just went great. It really settled me down."
The men's DMR team of Brett Johnson, Marcus Chambers, Boru Guyota and Trevor Dunbar capped the day with their second-place finish in 9:40.47.
Johnathan Cabral also qualified for the finals in the 60 hurdles with school-record-tying time of 7.67, and Mike Berry ran 46.10 to make the finals of the 400.