Returning for her ninth season at Oregon, Maurica Powell has become one of the most well-respected distance coaches in the nation. Her knowledge and commitment to the Duck runners ensures that all student-athletes receive extensive individual attention over the course of the track and cross country seasons.
That commitment to her runners paid off in the fall of 2012 when she and head coach Robert Johnson led Oregon to the NCAA Women’s Cross Country national championship. The Ducks have also won two Pac-12 titles (2012, 2014), as well as two NCAA West Region crowns (2012, 2014) as the Ducks are in the midst of one of their most successful eras in program history.
Individually, Jordan Hasay, Alexi Pappas and Katie Conlon were all named All-Americans in 2012, while Hasay captured the West Region individual crown that season for the third year in a row.
In addition to the cross country national title, among the many highlights during Powell’s tenure are the 2015 NCAA Outdoor women’s national title, three NCAA Indoor women’s national titles (2010-11, 2013), six conference crowns and three NCAA Outdoor runner-up finishes (2009-10-11). She has also overseen individual national titles by Hasay (mile, 3,000 meters), Anne Kesselring (800) and Rebekah Noble (800), 12 individual conference event winners and 64 all-Americans.
The Ducks’ 2015 outdoor title – their first in 30 years – would not have been possible without the nine points scored by All-Americans Molly Grabill and Waverly Neer who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at 10,000 meters.
Hasay went on to set school and Pac-12 records in the 10,000 meters, and then placed second at the 2013 U.S. Track and Field Championships following graduation.
The 2010-11 season was a memorable one for Powell and the Ducks as Hasay led the team to the Indoor national title with her wins at the mile and 3,000 meters. Hasay was also the Pac-10 individual cross country and 1,500 meter champion during the 2010-11 year. The 2011 outdoor season produced another Pac-10 title, including a pair of wins from Hasay in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, and concluded with another NCAA Outdoor runner-up finish.
During the 2009-10 campaign, Powell helped steer Oregon to its first-ever women’s NCAA Indoor Track & Field national title as the distance corps tallied points in the distance medley relay (second), mile (Hasay, fourth; Kesselring, sixth) and 3,000 meters (Nicole Blood, fifth). That success continued outdoors with a dominating Pac-10 championship that saw Oregon win every race from 100 to 10,000 meters, plus the steeplechase.
Among those winners were Kesselring in the 800, Zoe Buckman in the 1,500 meters, Blood in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters and Claire Michel, who became Oregon’s first league 3,000 meter steeplechase champion. The success carried over into the NCAA Championships with a trio of third-place finishes - Hasay in the 1,500, Alex Kosinski in the 5,000 and Blood in the 10,000 - plus Kesselring’s sixth-place showing in the 800 that led to the Ducks’ second-straight national runner-up finish. The academic year began with Blood winning the 2009 Pac-10 cross country individual title, Oregon’s first conference medalist in 17 years.
The 2008-09 season marked a return to prominence for the Women of Oregon with a second-pace showing at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships, a tie for ninth at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, and their highest finish in a quarter century at the NCAA Outdoor Championships where they captured the silver trophy. The women also won their first Pac-10 track title in 17 years and took second again in cross country as Oregon was named the USTFCCCA’s Division I women’s national program of the year.
The distance runners proved vital in Oregon’s Pac-10 track and field triumph with Buckman winning at 800 meters and Blood running second in the 5,000 meters. There was no shortage of All-America winners for the women either in 2008-09. Kosinski ran eighth and Blood 10th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships to give Oregon a pair of top 10 finishers for just the second time in school history. Mattie Bridgmon joined Blood and Kosinski as cross country All-Americans and Kosinski became the first Duck to win the NCAA West Regional in 14 years. Indoors, Oregon’s school-record setting distance medley relay team garnered All-America honors, as did Blood in both the mile and 3,000 meters. Outdoors, Blood was the national runner-up at 5,000 meters, while Bridgmon was an All-America selection at 10,000 meters.
During the spring of 2008, Blood was the Pac-10 champion at 5,000 meters and earned All-America honors in that event, while Buckman was an All-American in the 800. In the Ducks’ second-straight NCAA cross country runner-up showing in 2008, Powell worked with three runners who earned All-America honors in Kosinski, Blood and Bridgmon. In 2007, Noble repeated her NCAA indoor 800 meter runner-up honors, then received her fourth 800 All-America honor that June. That fall, led by Blood and Kosinski, the squad won runner-up honors at the NCAA Championships. On the track in 2006, the women’s distance unit celebrated a pair of All- America efforts in the NCAA Indoor Championships by Noble (800 meters, second) and the distance medley relay (seventh). Three months later, Noble became the first freshman to win an NCAA title in the outdoor 800 meters.
Before her arrival at Oregon, Powell made an impact as a graduate assistant coach at Columbia University for the 2004-05 season. The Lions’ touted women’s distance program enjoyed a breakthrough season with its 13th-place finish in the 2004 NCAA Cross Country Championships, led by Caroline Bierbaum who took third individually in the collegiate harrier finale, and second outdoors in 2005 in the NCAA 10,000 meters (33:03.37). During the outdoor regular season, Bierbaum ranked first nationally in the 10,000 meters (32:44.51) and Delilah DeCrescenzo stood second nationally in the steeplechase (10:06.88) before she claimed ninth in the NCAA finale. While she coached the Lions, Powell studied as a social work graduate student and worked with disadvantaged Harlem junior high and high school youth.
A middle distance star for Stanford University from 1998-2002, Powell still ranks in the top 10 all-time for Stanford in the indoor 800 meters (third, 2:07.51) and outdoor 800 meters (ninth, 2:06.63) and 1,500 meters (eighth, 4:16.51), and was an All-American in 2002 in the 1,500 meters (fifth, 4:16.51) and indoor distance medley relay (1,200 meter leadoff leg, third overall, 11:09.23). In the Pac-10 Championships, she was a three-time scorer in the 800 meters and also placed in the 1,500 meters as a junior and senior. She took seventh in the 800 meters as a freshman in the 1999 U.S. Junior Championships.
In high school, the Boston-area native was a six-time state track champion for Franklin High School in Franklin, Mass. Powell and her husband, UO associate head coach Andy Powell, have two sons..