By Alex Castle 

Alison Wood wiped her feet on the eastern infield track of Hayward Field to gain traction for her final attempt. Eyes focused forward on the high-jump bar that was set taller than the 44-year-old herself, she clapped her hands together before shaking them out one last time.

Charging ahead and approaching the bar, Wood gathered the strength in her legs that have carried her through the sport of track and field since she was 9 years old and leaped, landing cleanly on the other side and immediately springing to her feet with her arms thrust toward the sky.

“I’m always happy to jump over my head,” Wood said, laughing.

The jump of 5 feet, 5 inches was enough to earn Wood, the oldest woman in the competition, second place behind George Fox’s Stacy Kozlowski in Friday evening’s high jump at the Oregon Twilight.

“I’m older than most of their moms,” Wood, a member of the Oregon Track Club, said of Friday’s field. “And I know that.”

Older but not intimidated, Wood and Kozlowski were the only two jumpers to clear the bar at 5-5. With the bar raised to 5-7, neither woman could clear it and set what would have been their personal bests. But because Kozlowski took just one attempt to clear the previous height opposed to Wood’s three, the Damascus, Oregon, native walked away with the win.

“And thank God,” Kozlowski said, laughing. “Last time she beat me, and I was like ‘Oh my God, I lost to a 40 year old.’”

That last time was indoors at the 2018 UW Invitational in January, where Wood cleared 5-3 and placed 10th while Kozlowski finished 16th. Despite being bested this time around, Wood’s performance on Friday gave her plenty to be excited about with her height making it much to qualify for future events.

“It’s always good to have that mark early,” Wood said.

Future implications aside, the masters athlete reveled in the moment of her final competition at Hayward Field in its current state and it showed as she threw her hands up in exuberance once more even after failing on her final try at 5-7.

“Hayward just has some special magic, and I love jumping here,” she said.

Surrounded only by collegiate athletes in the competition, that love and devotion for the sport and Hayward rubbed off on her younger opponents.

“I can’t imagine doing something that long and not getting tired of it,” Kozlowski said. “It just really makes me appreciate the sport that someone wants to do it for that long.”

When she’s not opening eyes with her jumping, Wood balances working in internet governance and taking care of her kids at home. But now with her performance on Friday, the OTC jumper has the pressure of qualifying for future meets alleviated. And for the 5-7 mark she failed to pass in three attempts?

“I’ll get it next time.”