By Julia Lobaina

Instead of sporting the “O” on his chest and representing Eugene at the 2018 Twilight Meet, Marcus Chambers represented Nike as a professional athlete Friday night, clocking in at 20.99 seconds to win the 200-meter dash.

Although he is no longer a Duck, the fans at Hayward Field stood cheering at the West Grandstands as Chambers entered the Bowerman curve leading the pack.

“I love Eugene,” he said. “In the past four years I’ve have a lot of ups and downs, but the coaches and fans have always had my back.

“Whether you run good or bad, the fans will always cheer you on.”

Heading into the race, Chambers’ game plan was to get out, lead on the curb and finish strong. And he did exactly that by grabbing the lead early and finishing .27 ahead of runner-up Myles Webb, a current Oregon Duck, who ran 21.26.

This meet was special for Chambers, not only because it was his first return to Hayward, but also because he was accompanied by 20 other alumni who have also dealt with the changes that come with transitioning from the collegiate level to professional.

As Chambers progresses into his professional season, he can’t help but notice the differences that he has endured during his shift to becoming a Nike Athlete.

“Everything is different,” he said. “The team commodore is different, the practices are different and the trainings are different.”

With all these changes, Chambers is adjusting to a later season that extends until August and with this altered timing, he has experienced a slow start.

“Usually at this time I’m running faster, but I’m still getting in the groove of things,” he said.

Although the speed and structure of his practices are different, Chambers has continued to perform at the top level while sweeping the competition, similar to what he did Friday in the 200 meters.

“I’m where I want to be, but it’s different because I’m used to being faster in this moment of the season,” he said. “But in the whole scheme of things, it’s going to come together when it counts.”

Overall, this season has been a learning curve for Chambers, but the outdoor season has gone smoothly, especially the Penn Relays earlier last month which was a big confidence booster.

At the Penn Relays, Chambers represented Team USA in the USA vs. the World Men’s 4×400-meter relay. Chambers ran 44.84 seconds, leading Team USA to first place at 3 minutes, 1.31 seconds.

Now that the Twilight Meet is complete, Chambers can go back to Seattle, where he trains in a small group to keep focus.

Next up is the Bermuda Invitational, where Chambers will run the 400-meter dash. He hopes to run fast so he can qualify for Europe this summer, which is his main goal of the season.