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Former Sandburg Cross Country Standout Verzbicas Departs Oregon to Chase Olympic Dream

Lukas Verzbicas, a two-time cross country state champion at Sandburg, is leaving the University of Oregon at the midway point of his freshman year. He wants to train full-time for a spot on the U.S. Olympic triathlon team.

Lukas Verzbicas has decided to run full-time after his dream.

Verzbicas, a two-time state cross country champion during his high school days at Sandburg, is leaving the University of Oregon track and field team at the midway point of his freshman year in order to train full-time for a spot on the U.S. Olympic triathlon team.

He won junior titles at both the World and U.S. triathlon championships earlier this year.

"When we recruited Lukas (Verzbicas), we knew he was a very talented athlete with opportunities in both sports, and we were delighted he chose to attend the University of Oregon and focus on track and field," said associate athletic director Vin Lananna in a new release announcing Verzbicas' departure. "Given his recent success at the World Junior Triathlon championships in Beijing, we can appreciate his desire to follow his dreams and support his decision to pursue his athletic goals."

Verzbicas appeared in two cross country meets this fall for the Ducks. He placed 23rd in the Pac-12 Championships and 62nd in a deep field at the Wisconsin Invitational.

"We will keep the door open for Lukas (Verzbicas) if he decides in the future to resume his running career at Oregon," Lananna said. "Our coaching staff and student-athletes wish him nothing but the best of luck in his triathlon pursuits."

Prior to joining the program at Oregon, Verzbicas fashioned one of the greatest careers in the history of high school distance running. He twice was named the National High School Cross Country Athlete of the Year. He set national high school records for the outdoor two-mile and the indoor 5,000 meters. And he was just the fifth high school runner ever to break the four-minute mile barrier.

"This choice was extremely difficult, but after careful thought and consideration, I have elected to follow my heart and commit full-time to the sport of triathlon," Verzbicas said in a USA Triathlon news release. "I look forward to pursuing my dream of one day representing the United States in the Summer Olympic Games.

"I would like to thank my coaches and teammates at Oregon for welcoming me with open arms this fall. The program has a rich tradition and, with so many talented young runners on its roster, I believe is well-postitioned to compete for a national championship in the very near future. I wish them nothing but the best."

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