Oregon Relays

Allen does a little of everything at Oregon Relays

Saturday at the Oregon Relays, the sun brought Devon Allen out to run.

After running the 200 meters Friday, he was going to compete only in the 4×100 meter relay and the 400 hurdles.

“I wasn’t going to run the 110s until I got here and it was like 70 degrees and it was the perfect day to run,” Allen said.

Allen ran .08 seconds short of the Pepsi Invitational meet record he set last weekend,13.48. He won by almost a full second Saturday, but even that wasn’t good enough for him.

“I was a little frustrated because I wanted to run faster with a 1.9 tailwind,” Allen said.

He went on to win the 400 hurdles and helped the 4×100 relay team to win in a close finish. Allen ran first leg for the men’s A team that ran 40.18, edging the crew from Ultimate Speed Athletic, 40.35.

Even Allen’s three wins weren’t enough to make the top of head coach Robert Johnson’s highlight list.

“I’d say it’s par for the course,” Johnson said. “Probably the highlight today for us was Cole Walsh.”

Walsh set a personal record in the pole vault, 17 feet, 9 inches, to win the event and make up for no-heighting in the Pepsi Invitational last weekend.

“Last year, I was really inconsistent in my approach, and that’s something that I worked pretty hard on over the summer,” Walsh said. “That was one of the biggest things that affected how I jumped today.”

Walsh and his teammate Matt Hidalgo have been training with the decathletes in recent practices.

“They’re always working hard,” Walsh said. “Having people who are looking towards the same goals as you can be very valuable.”

After winning at 17-9, Walsh tried for the 18-1 mark. He missed all three attempts, but setting a personal best for the first time in two years was enough to keep him happy.

“You can never be mad with a PR,” he said.

Pole vault wasn’t the only field event to have a field day.

Oregon men’s triple jumper Chance Whitehurst won the event in 49-9¼ , breaking his own personal record from last weekend.

“Chance is somebody that we’ve been working a lot on a few things,” Johnson said. “Let’s keep him on that runway and maybe we can keep getting PRs.”

Now finished with back-to-back weekends of home meets, the Ducks are taking a bye week before heading to Pennsylvania on April 28.

Devon Allen branches out with 200-meter win

Devon Allen, the NCAA champion in the men’s 110 meter hurdles, ran a career best in the men’s 200 meters Friday night at the Oregon Relays with a time of 20.68.

His teammate, 400-meter runner Marcus Chambers, finished second in 20.94, also a personal best.

“New PR, so you can’t complain,” Allen said. “I wanted to run a little bit faster, but I think that’s a good time for that for sure.”

He also said it should be nice to get a little more rest before tomorrow, when he will run both hurdles events. Last week at the Pepsi Team Invitational, he ran in four events in one afternoon.

Allen knew he would have a tough competitor in his teammate, Chambers.

“He’s a beast. He’s a 400-meter guy,” Allen said. “Especially in the 200 meters I knew I had to get out in front of him.”

Allen explained that his goals are “just to run fast and stay healthy. The number one key is just stay healthy because you can’t run for a national title if you’re not in the race.”

He said he isn’t practicing in spring football so he can focus on track and that he is feeling better and faster.

“Wherever they can throw me in there to get some points or to get a chance to win, I’ll do it,” he explained.

He even joked that he would do the 5,000 but, “only if Edward Cheserek is racing.”


Modin wins the decathlon to most likely qualify for NCAAs

With a meet record in the decathlon 110-meter hurdles and a personal record in the discus, Oregon junior Mitch Modin accomplished what he came to do: qualify.

With a score of 7,468 points, Modin won the decathlon Friday at the Oregon Relays at Hayward Field and produced a top-24 ranking in Division I. If it holds up, as expected, he will qualify for the NCAA championships in June. His score ranks ninth according to Direct Athletics, putting him in a decent position to stay among the top 24 throughout the rest of the season.

“It will be pretty close,” Modin said. “But luckily we have Pac-12s to post a better one. I’m confident that it was what I could do with what I had, so I’m pretty happy with it.”

Modin ended day one with a total of 3,916 points, 184 points fewer than he scored after the first day of the decathlon in the Oregon Relays last year.

He started off day two strong, winning the 110 hurdles in 14.67, a near-personal record, and winning the discus with a lifetime best of 126 feet, 9 inches.

“Discus—I finally showed some improvement in that,” Modin said. “I was pretty happy with how my discus went and now it is just a matter of getting that to 40 meters.”

Modin went on to clear 14-7 1/4 in the pole vault, good enough for fourth place in the event. Teammates Joe Delgado and Blake Kemp cleared a height of 15-3, a personal best for Delgado, and Lane Community College athlete Grant Shurtliff won the event with a vault of 15-7.

Modin got back to his leading pace when he won the javelin with a throw of 179-4. After nine events, Modin led with 6,847 points and Delgado trailed with 6,592 points.

In the 1,500-meter race, the final event, Delgado dominated. His time of 4:20.17 beat Modin’s second-place time by over 29 seconds. Modin still came away from the event with 621 points to bring his total to 7,468 points.

McNamara satisfied with third place in 5,000–for now

Racing for the first time in seven months, Jordan McNamara simply wanted to feel again. He missed the nerves, he longed for the crowds in the grandstands and he wanted to rub elbows with some of the best distance runners in the country.

But it was the pain, the pain of distance and the pain of losing, which felt the best.

McNamara, a former Oregon All-American and currently a runner for Oregon Track Club, finished third in the 5,000-meter Friday night at the Oregon Relays with a time of 13:57.87. His return to racing also marked his first time competing in the 5,000 since he finished his Oregon career nearly four years ago.

“It’s a different beast,” McNamara said. “But it’s fun to get out there…to just hurt again, it felt good.”

Nike Oregon Project’s Suguru Osako won in 13:45.39, and Canadian runner Luc Bruchet, running for Asics Canada, came in second in 13:49.30. Oregon freshman Tanner Anderson, running unattached, finished fifth in 14:00.37.

McNamara said he had no expectations coming into the race. Before his team heads to train in Flagstaff, Arizona, next week in preparation for the Olympic Trials, he wanted to see where he was at in a competitive setting. A positive effort was the only bar he set for himself.

“Box and check there,” he said.

But as the lap counter started marking down, and the minutes starting added up, McNamara felt the difference between running a mile and running a 5,000.

“It felt about eight laps too long, honestly,” he said. “That was a long one for me.”

Still, McNamara felt that if he could keep the leader within three seconds heading into the final lap, he could catch him. When that time came, McNamara, in no man’s land between the leader and the rest of the pack, saw six seconds separating himself from Osako.

“I looked up and saw that I was a long way from there,” McNamara said.

McNamara shifted his focus to fending off the rest of the runners behind him. He successfully did, finishing a race for which he had no expectations in third.

After the race, McNamara, steam waving off his sweaty head, turned his attention toward training for the Olympic Trials, scheduled for July 1-10 at Hayward Field. He remembered missing out on making the U.S. 1,500 team in 2012 by just over a second and the pain that he felt.

In Flagstaff, where the altitude is almost 7,000 feet, McNamara said he expects his training to increase. Seventy-mile weeks will turn into 90. He plans on doing everything he can to make the Olympics this time around.

“Now it’s time to really turn the screw and take some risks,” he said, “because I either want to be on the team, or it doesn’t really matter.”

“I’m throwing everything into it. All the eggs are going into the basket.”







White wins long jump by more than a foot

After fouling his first two jumps, Oregon redshirt sophomore Travonn White won the long jump on Friday during the second day of the Oregon Relays with a distance of 24 feet, 8 inches—a foot farther than the rest of the field,

When he fouled on his second jump, White looked at the official in disbelief. He had barely been off the board. On the verge of elimination in the qualifying round, White kept calm. For his third and final jump, his distance was 24-3, propelling him to the finals with the farthest distance that round.

In the final round, White made all three of his jumps. The closest distance to him was 23-2 by Portland State sophomore Spenser Schmidt, who had previously earned second in the Big Sky this indoor season. He achieved second in this long jump as well.

“I wasn’t too concerned about winning; I was more concerned about progressing,” said White.

White did improve by about a foot and a half from last week’s Pepsi Team Invitational, where he finished sixth of nine participants with a jump of 23-3.4. After last weekend, Coach Robert Johnson had the team do easier practices this week, in order to keep their bodies fresh.

“Today, I felt more technically sound and more powerful,” said White.

To make that improvement, Johnson told White to work on his technique and “staying tall.”

“People don’t know about the long jump. People just think you run up and jump in the sand as far as you can. But it’s more technical than a lot of people think. So once I get technically sound, it all comes together, ” said White.

 Also in the field was Northern Colorado senior Rolyce Boston, who earned third with a jump of 22-6.5. Northwest Christian junior Javonte Byrd jumped a distance of 20-1. Byrd holds NCU’s long jump record with a distance of 22-1.5. Byrd earned ninth place out of twelve participants.

Mulder’s kick gives him 800-meter win

After four months of rehab, Tyler Mulder of Oregon Track Club Elite opened his 2016 outdoor season with a win in the 800 meters at the Oregon Relays.

Mulder has dealt with hamstring tendinopathy for the past four months, a rare injury found in distance runners. This injury hasn’t stopped him from running completely; it’s just slowed his progress.

Nathan Fleck of High Performance led through the first three quarters of the race, with Mulder trailing by 10 meters. With 150 meters to go, Mulder made his move, easily passing Fleck on the Bowerman curve. Oregon senior Grant Grosvenor went with him. Mulder was able to hold Grosvenor off in the last steps, claiming the victory in 1:50.50.

“It’s not a fast time or anything but most importantly I haven’t really raced much, I’ve been banged up and hurt,” he said. “Which was hard to bounce back from, so coming out here and getting a win is pretty good.”

Mulder said he tried not to think about the fact that he came into the race as the number one seed.

“I tried to come in just thinking of myself as someone who’s getting over rehab and just coming through to be competitive,” he said. “I didn’t want to take the spotlight and charge from the front which is where I feel comfortable. I like a fast pace, but not quite yet.”

Mulder is hoping to hit the 1:46 standard needed to compete in the Olympic Trials later this year.

“I like my situation,” he said. “I’m a bit of an underdog, so no one is probably expecting much of me, and I’m just going to go with that approach.”

He leaves Sunday morning to Flagstaff to join his team for a couple weeks of altitude training before competing again at the Drake Relays later this month.



Pappas wins 5,000 but misses Olympic standard

Olympic hopeful and former Duck Alexi Pappas, who recently announced that she would be using her newly acquired Greek citizenship to compete for Greece, set out to hit the Olympic standard in the 5,000 meters at the Oregon Relays Friday night.

Running the entire last mile alone, she won the race in 15 minutes, 33 seconds, the second fastest 5,000 she has ever run, but still nine seconds short of the Olympic standard.

“You always shoot really high and have high standards for yourself but when you end up running some of the 5k alone it can be really tough to hit those standards,” she said. “I know I have it in me.”

Tara Welling of High Performance West paced Pappas through two miles before dropping out, leaving Pappas to run the last mile by herself.

While she didn’t hit the 15:24 she needed, she is optimistic about the rest of the season.

“A win is not something that was always in the cards for me, so winning and running almost a PR and opening a season like that in an Olympic year is a pretty big W for me,” she said. “It bodes well for the 10K, which is my primary event.”

Pappas is chasing the Olympic standard in both events and will run the 10,000 at the Payton Jordan Invitational next month. Despite having already run the Olympic standard of 32:15 in the 10K, Pappas needs to hit this standard again as a Greek citizen for it to qualify.

“Which is fair and good,” she said. “And I’ll do it.”

Since announcing her Greek citizenship in late February, Pappas has really begun to embrace her Greek heritage.

She recently participated in the Shamrock Shuffle, an 8,000-meter race in Chicago.

“It was so fun because there was this whole big Greek community there I was introduced to,” she said. While at the event Pappas met a little girl and her family who were from Rhodes, Greece, the same island she is from. Because she didn’t have any of her friends or family there, Pappas gave away her elite tent passes to this girl and her family.

“So I spent time with this adorable girl and her family after the race, and that became kind of my extended family there, in that sense I think my community and my reach is expanding already.”

For Pappas, the decision to compete for Greece is about more than just making the Olympics. It’s about competing and proudly representing her home country.

Allen sweeps hurdles — of course — at Oregon Relays

Devon Allen continues to remind the track and field community that he’s back and only getting better. Another day on the track, and Allen left no doubts, taking the 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles at Hayward Field at the Oregon Relays.

Even after a year absence recovering from a knee injury, Allen’s conditioning has made a big impact on his early performance.

“I’m in pretty good shape,” said Allen. “I’m doing a lot of races, so it takes a lot out of me anyways. I feel good. I’m in a good position.”

After a busy seven days competing last weekend in the Pepsi Invitational and now the Oregon Relays, Allen is planning to go easy until the bigger meets.

Allen chose a hectic schedule of races because of his training. “I didn’t get to train as long as most of the guys in the season,” he said. “So I got to catch up with volume.”

Catching up with volume will mean taking it easy in the coming weeks.

“I’m going to take the next six weeks off,” said Allen. “Not off, but I’m going to take it lighter until Pac-12s and nationals.”

The 110 hurdles were marred by a false in what Allen said was caused by a motorcycle revving up before the start. Allen was unsure coming into the meet whether he would compete.

“I wasn’t going to run the 110 until I got here,” he said. “It was like 70 degrees and it was a perfect day to run.”

Allen took the event in 13.48 seconds, but was left frustrated after crossing the finish line. “I was a little frustrated because I wanted to run faster with 1.9 tailwind,” he said.

After taking the win in 4×100 relay, Allen had a brief rest before the 400 hurdles. He made clearing the hurdles look easy, cruising to a mark of 51.32 for the win. He knocked down the final hurdle but said the last hurdles are the toughest with all the energy put into the race.

Happy with the results, Allen is pushing himself to get better. He is hoping to get the school records in his signature events. He owes his performances for what he puts into training. “I’m excited, I’m consistent and I keep on getting better,” he said. “I just need to clean up a few things.”

Oregon coach Robert Johnson agreed, knowing Allen can fix some mistakes.

“I think he will be a little disappointed with hitting the last hurdle on the 400,” he said. “Those things he will go back and we will try to clean up, but other than that, that’s just the competitor and who he is. Mr. Perfection.”

Allen is unsure if he will compete in the Oregon Twilight, but remains optimistic going forward after two successful meets. “I’m really happy with my conditioning,” he said. “Overall, I did pretty well.”


Hightower returns to LCC with big goals, big personality

After a year away from Hayward Field, Dakarai Hightower returned Friday at the Oregon Relays and won the men’s high jump with a jump of 7 feet, ¼ inch.

Then he allowed his witty humor to come to life.

“I ate a big bowl of Wheaties,” he said. “Michael Jordan on the box, had that Kobe mindset. Pineapples, a lot of pineapples.

“Nah, I just jumped really well today. I did. Got to thank the big man upstairs,” said Hightower.

Taking the win by just under a foot was as easy as his mindset for each jump he takes. “Eat, sleep, conquer, repeat,” said Hightower. With a short, simple approach, Hightower made his jump look flawless as he sailed over the bar for the winning mark.

He was not done, however.

Two weeks ago at the Linfield meet, Hightower cleared 7-3 and was looking to raise the bar. This week, with the crowd clapping at Hayward Field, Hightower drew in the energy, looking to go 7-4. Twice the crowd got behind Hightower, but he hit the bar both times as he went over. Although a bit disappointed, he smiled to the crowd and back-flipped into the mat to still celebrate a win.

“It was pretty still. Not too windy, there was a little headwind at the beginning, had to adjust back just a bit. Overall it was pretty good,” said Hightower.

After a year absence, Hightower returned to Lane Community College Track and Field in hopes of qualifying for this summer’s Olympic Trials. “I always got to put in that little extra mile. I think it’s on the rise,” said Hightower.

He said his teammates have been supportive of him and are happy to have him back. “I love this team. Love Eugene. Love U of O. Great people, great crowd,” said Hightower.

Even though being away, Hightower managed to participate in track. He stayed home in Tacoma, Washington, to help his family save money while still doing track. Previous high school coaches have helped him. He couldn’t compete beyond Oregon and Washington because of the expense. Depending on where the meet was held, Hightower was not worried as he had friends to stay with to keep his dream alive.

Hightower is not necessarily trying to set goals for himself as the season goes on. “I don’t really go out there with a set,” he said. “If I set a goal for myself like 7-4 or 7-5 and don’t achieve it, I’m going to be disappointed. I just go out there and jump the jump.”

Despite not setting goals, Hightower is aware of the expectations in making the Olympic Trials. He will have to jump 7 feet, 5 inches to have a chance, but Olympic qualifiers are jumping at 7 feet, 8 inches. “I’m open,” he said.

Staying open can come a long ways for Hightower, but his meal before each meet shows his free flowing nature.

“Yea, I say some Wheaties, maybe a couple of goat eggs,” said Hightower.

Shot put victory not enough for Pless

It was a good result, but Iron Wood Track Club member David Pless is not satisfied with his performance.

Saturday, during the final day of the Oregon Relays, Pless won the shot put by more than three and a half feet with a distance of 61 feet, 10.5 inches. Despite this achievement, Pless knows he can do better.

“I missed a really big throw that probably would have been a PR,” said Pless. “So, I’m somewhat ambivalent about my performance. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked.”

Second place went to Concordia sophomore Josh Koch, who threw a personal best 58-4, surpassing his old personal record, which he accomplished earlier this season, by about two and a half feet.

Oregon senior Ryan Hunter-Simms competed unattached and finished in third place, despite fouling four times, with a distance of 53-11.75.

Pless is training for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics by working out for 6-7 hours a day in order to meet the qualifying mark, which is at 67-3.25. In addition to his intense workouts, Pless works for a technology company in Portland doing sales.

During the event, Pless fouled on his last two throws, one that he thinks would have surpassed his personal record of 65-1, by stepping outside of the board. Each time, he was visibly frustrated, consulting with his coach, Jared Rome, after each throw. He said he’s been working to stay calm after fouling.

“One of the things that has really plagued me is being able to take a step back and remember that it’s fun out here,” he said. “It’s not supposed to be like the most intense thing in the world.”

Another way that Pless keeps calm is by chewing Big League Chew gum that he carries around in a giant circular container.

“Sometimes it helps relieve nerves, but also, the sugar and the gum, this is kind of gross, but if you spit on your hands you get a better grip on the discus or the shot,” said Pless.

In addition to Hunter-Simms, three other Oregon throwers competed in the shot put, finishing fourth, fifth and sixth out of eleven finalists. Sophomore Austin White threw 53-3. Junior T.J. Brassil threw a distance of 52, which barely surpassed his old personal record of 51-11.25. Redshirt freshman Drake Brennan threw for a distance of 51-4.5.








Skip to toolbar