The odds weren’t exactly stacked in Yordanos Zelinski’s favor leading up to the 43rd Annual Verona Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Zelinski recently returned from a trip to visit family in Ethiopia, meaning he did not have a full training load to prepare for his sophomore season at Oregon. Dealing with the common cold Saturday morning didn’t make things any easier.

Zelinski persevered to finished 18th with a time of 17 minutes, 12.4 seconds on the 5,000-meter course. His time was the fourth-best out of all Division 2 runners.

“You have to work your body,” Zelinski said. “You can’t just come out here and run 5,000 meters in 17 minutes. You have to be mentally and physically built to do it.”

Oregon finished 12th out of 23 teams with 336 points, and fifth out of nine Division 2 teams. Junior Raul Ramos took 51st with a time of 17:57.5, and classmate Brendan Dieter was 82nd (18:31.1). Sophomore Turner Sieren (18:50.5) and freshman Quinton Bush (18:50.8) finished 92nd and 93rd, respectively to round out the Panthers’ top five.

Sophomores Deaken Bush (116th, 19:39.3) and Odin Beck (133rd, 20:13.1) also competed for Oregon.

“I think they were a little disappointed with the way we started the season at Watertown, so they were looking forward to another meet to prove themselves,” Oregon coach Erik Haakenson said. “We ran with some of the top groups and held on really well, especially with this being a two-lap race. That second lap can make or break a run.”

Madison La Follette won the team title with 61 points, thanks in large part to senior Chris Wolfe’s individual victory in 16:20.1. The Lancers also had two other runners in the top 10, and their fourth and fifth runners took 23rd and 24th, respectively.

Next up for Oregon is the Badger Challenge in Watertown on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Sports editor Adam Feiner can be contacted at ungsportseditor@wcinet.com.