Oregon Twilight Meet

Raevyn Rogers sets 400-meter PR in return to Hayward Field

By Nate Mann

Her last race at Hayward Field won the Triple Crown for the University of Oregon women. Her most recent professional race, a sprint-medley at the Penn Relays, set the new world record. Friday’s meet record victory and a personal best in the 400-meter dash at Oregon Twilight was written in the stars for Raevyn Rogers.

Born on Sept. 7, Rogers is a daily reader of the Virgo horoscope. For May 4, the day of the Twilight, it read, “You take your responsibilities to heart and therefore won’t declare it’s the weekend until you’ve met all your obligations.”

For her, winning in front of a crowd that cheered her on the past three years was the obligation. Rogers beat the previous meet record of 52.62 seconds set by Maria Mutola in 1998 with a personal-best time of 52.06.

“Sometimes horoscopes are really spot on,” Rogers said. “I also consider it just a little guidance from God, a little note here and there, some motivation.”

But the unfamiliar life of a professional runner overwhelms Rogers.

As well as representing Nike on the track, she continues to take classes toward an art major and pursue an entry into the university’s Spring Storm art show in June. She describes all of this as “a more intense blend of student-athlete life.”

Rogers manages her numerous tasks using to-do lists. After checking off classes and a nearly-forgotten meeting about Spring Storm Friday morning, she shifted her focus Friday afternoon to the Oregon Twilight meet.

Rogers started the 400 strong, leading the pack of seven racers after 200 meters. Oregon’s Rachel Vinjamuri chased Rogers but fell off as two-time 800-meter world indoor champion Francine Niyonsaba of the Oregon Track Club Elite moved into second.

Niyonsaba, who also won silver in the 800 at the 2016 Olympics, couldn’t catch Rogers, finishing second in her professional 400-meter debut with a time of 53.48 seconds. The two elite runners will compete again in three weeks at the Prefontaine Classic in the 800. Niyonsaba isn’t worried about her potential competition.

“When I run, I just push myself. I don’t run with people,” she said. “I know what I need to do.”

The Prefontaine Classic is scheduled for May 25-26. Between now and then, Niyonsaba will focus solely on training. Rogers, on the other hand, plans to compete in the Adidas Boost Boston Games May 19-20.

For now, she will revel in yet another victory on Hayward Field.

“Today felt good, just being able to run and really showcase the work I’ve been doing in front of the home crowd on another level,” Rogers said. “Having that growth there so everyone can be a part of that really meant a lot to me.”

Devon Allen Goes Two-for-two at Twilight

By Jake Willard

In his return to Hayward Field after relocating to Phoenix, Arizona to train, Devon Allen put on a show for the crowd with victories in meet-record times in the 110-meter hurdles and 100-meter dash Friday night. He finished the races at the Oregon Twilight Meet in 13.42 seconds and 10.29 seconds, respectively.

The Olympic hurdler had some breathing room in the 100 meters, beating Oregon’s Myles Webb by 0.13 seconds, but faced strong competition in the hurdles from his training partner Jonathan Cabral and Syracuse graduate Freddie Crittenden III.

Crittenden, who had spent several days in Phoenix with Allen and Cabral in what he called an “unofficial training camp,” knew Allen had a strong finish and used that knowledge to help pull him to second place. “Just lining up next to him, I know if he’s coming, I got to try to go with him,” he said. “So I can try to practice finishing stronger.”

After 18 solid months of healthy running following his second knee surgery in September 2016, Allen feels confident in his signature finish, with little pain in his knee. “My last five or six hurdles were really strong,” he said. “As long as I’m in the race, I have a chance.”

Despite his strong finishing abilities, it is Allen’s start that he has worked on the most. Since moving to Phoenix and training with his high school coach Tim O’Neil, he has been practicing a seven-step approach to the first hurdle over his normal eight steps. After seeing some success with it at Hayward Field on Friday, Allen is still unsure if he will continue with the technique.

“I’m still trying to figure it out,” he said. “Me and my coach are going to reevaluate this week and see if we go back to eight or stick with seven.”

Much like Allen, Cabral has also been working on his form with O’Neil, and was excited about the little team they have created down in Phoenix. “We keep a competitive training environment without the gruel of the competition,” he said. “We keep it lively and light while still working on a really high caliber.”

While the former Ducks might not have “gruel of the competition” on a daily basis, there is still a friendly rivalry between Allen and Cabral. It was especially present in the race on Friday.

“Jonathan beat me [in this race] last year, so it’s good to kind of get some bragging rights,” Allen said. The defeat only made Cabral excited for the rematch on the new Hayward Field in 2020. “We were joking about it. I told him, ‘you haven’t beat me at a Twilight yet,’” Cabral said. “But, we’ll see a few years from now.”

Allen and Cabral will both head back to Arizona for a few more weeks of training before they take to the track again this season. While Cabral is still weighing his racing options, Allen has his eyes set on the Prefontaine Classic at the end of this month. “Hopefully I can dip into the 12s here at Prefontaine,” Allen said. “That’s my goal.”

Oregon Freshman Reed Brown takes McChesney 1,500 meters

By Chiann Nobrega

Racing next to experienced athletes did not stop Oregon freshman Reed Brown from dominating the men’s McChesney 1,500 meters Friday at the 2018 Oregon Twilight Meet.

Against an impressive line up, Brown won the event with a time of 3 minutes, 41.75 seconds, ahead of District Track Club member David Timlin, who finished in 3:42.07.

“It’s an amazing feeling especially since this is the last (regular-season) race at Hayward,” Brown said. “It’s an honor to be here and to get to race in here one last time with the guys from the past and the ones here now.”

One person particularly surprised by the results was Timlin.

“I got beat today by a college kid, college freshman, that really pisses me off,” he said. “I saw Reed coming and dammit. He is a good kid, though.”

Brown said transitioning from a high school stage to a college one has been “nerve racking,” but he is thankful for his teammates. He is learning from the seasoned veterans and paying attention to the littlest details, including their eating and sleeping habits.

Brown’s strategy going into the race was to put himself in a position to have a good final 200. Getting up front quickly was important while also running a fast race with a good time. Brown was pleased with how the event played out and made very few adjustments.

“The race went to plan,” Brown said. “I put myself in a position with 200 to go and went for the win.”

Situating himself after the 800 was a huge move to make for Brown because he starts to hurt around that time, which is something he has been working on.

Training and practices have helped Brown ease into races like this. He’s noticed that every practice is important because he is running with what he calls “high caliber” athletes.

“The guys are so good. You have to get better every day no matter how you’re feeling,” Brown said. “I have learned to not take any workout for granted.”

Brown believes the season has gone according to plan and is right where he wants to be. One thing he hopes to improve on is the steeple.

“I got a time in the 1,500 pretty early, which was the plan so I could take these later races at different strategies and learn how to race different ways,” Brown said. “I am still trying to work on the steeple a little bit. I do not have a time in it yet. It would be the ultimate goal to get a nice time in the steeple.” 

Lilli Burdon bests the field in 1,500 meters

By August Howell

The last race of the final regular season meet at Hayward Field was a special moment for Stephanie Aldea. The second section of the women’s 1,500 meters was the Canadian’s first ever race at Hayward Field. She traveled with her coaches from Windsor, Canada, where she trains with the UWindsor Athletic Club.

“It’s weird seeing it come to life,” she said. “I’ve seen pictures online over the past 10-15 years, but to actually see it, it really is magical. It’s a special place. I’m grateful to be here.”

For Oregon’s Lilli Burdon however, a race at Hayward was just business as usual.

With teammate Jessica Hull pacing the race and hardly any wind on the track, Burdon won the second section of the women’s 1,500 meters in 4 minutes, 15.16 seconds at the 2018 Oregon Twilight meet. Aldea finished second with a season-best 4:19.71.

“I didn’t really know how I was going to hold up today, but I’m happy with a solid race,” Burdon said.

Burdon and Hull led the race from the starting gun. The juniors came through 800 meters at 2:14, and Burdon was locked comfortably onto Hull’s pace.

Burdon and Aldea began to pick up the pace after the 800 mark. Hull, despite running a lifetime-best 2:04 in the 800 meters just 10 minutes earlier, managed to pace Burdon for the first 1,000 meters.

“Jess is a champ. She did me a huge solid after racing a great 800,” Burdon said. “I just had to go solo and finish it off.”

Burdon didn’t take any chances after Hull dropped out. Even as the chase pack changed leaders and runners shifted positions, none of them approached Burdon as she finished the final 500 meters all by herself. Aldea was almost caught in the final straightaway by Annie Leblanc (4:20.29) and Ashley Maton (4:22.60), both Oregon alums.

“I just started to gear up and pick people off,” Aldea said. “And I didn’t realize the girl was way ahead of us, the girl in front. I wish I would have done that sooner.”

Katie Rainsberger, who missed all of the indoor season due to injury, completed her first 1,500-meter race of the season in 4:23.03, good for fifth place. Right behind Rainsberger was OTC Elite runner Hanna Green. In her first season since graduating from Virginia Tech, she ran 4:23.6 for her first 1,500 of the season.

With the regular season over, Burdon and the rest of the Oregon team will shift their attention to the Pac-12 Championship meet at Stanford. Burdon’s personal best of 4:12.52 is the seventh fastest time for 1,500 this season. She believes the team is in great shape to compete at the national level in the coming weeks.

“I think our whole team is feeling confident,” she said. “We’ve had some great training behind us and we’ve been grinding and working really well together.”

 

Age doesn’t hinder Alison Wood in high jump

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.”

Ryan Hunter-Simms Returns to Hayward with a Men’s Discus Win

By Brenten Kelly

Ryan Hunter-Simms looked like his Oregon 2017 Pac 12 championship form Friday afternoon when competing in the men’s discus at the Oregon Twilight Meet. But he is balancing a job as a Pacific University track and field assistant coach while competing in his post collegiate career.

“I definitely do not train as much as I should — I just go after it every day,” he said. “Just trying to work on the very small things for the past four or five years that I have been messing up on. But it’s been coming together.”

Hunter-Simms won the men’s discus with a distance of 185 feet, 6 inches, 16 feet ahead of Concordia’s Caleb Bridge.

Coaching discus throwers after a successful college career has been a smooth transition for Hunter-Simms. But knowing when to push his body has been the challenge.

“I’m going to keep coaching and training as I am now, even if it’s just half-heartedly,” he said. “Maybe pick up the training a little bit more, but try not to wear my body out. I feel like my body is a lot better than last year, and my mind is in a lot better place by going through coaching and training the same as the athletes I’m training.”

The rest of the month of May will be a benchmark for Hunter-Simms to see if he will compete in the U.S. Nationals at the end of June.

“Depending on how the last two weeks go, then I will keep going with my training, but if not then it’s no big deal,” he said. “I’m perfectly OK with trying to learn as much as I can, seeing where my body is at with my post-collegiate career.”

Concordia University athletes Bridge and Sam Nichols finished second and third, respectively, behind Hunter-Simms. Bridge threw 169-5, and Nichols threw 167-4. Just like Hunter-Simms, Nichols threw his best on his first attempt.

“That’s not usually how I like to do it,” Nichols said. “But I was warming up well and knew what I wanted to start with. I just felt good slinging from the start. Afterwards I kept trying to chase that mark but couldn’t quite get it.”

The atmosphere and pressure of Hayward Field helped Bridge and Nichols perform better than they do in other stadiums, where they often throw out of sight of the crowd.

“It’s nice to have a ring inside the stadium and not behind the stadium like most facilities,” said Bridge. “I like to compete in front of everyone, knowing everyone is watching helps me and gives me a little bit of adrenaline.”

Nichols agreed.

“Makes it more fun for me, little more pressure,” said Nichols. “There is music playing, you really get going and it feels good.”

Coming back to Hayward Field was a new experience for Hunter-Simms. While reflecting on the past, he is hopeful for his Olympic future.

“First time being here in 2018, kind of sad they are tearing it down, but I’m so glad I competed here,” he said. “It’s a great facility. I hope one day, maybe in 2020 I can be back here. We’ll see.”

High schooler Daniel Maton wins an 800 heat

By Mark Wang

High school junior Daniel Maton ran 1:52.89 in the 800 meters at the Oregon Twilight Meet on Friday competing unattached, and it wasn’t his first time racing with college and post college guys.  

He said he had seen a lot of these guys at Portland Twilight, where he ran his 800 personal record of 1 minute, 51 seconds, and that Friday night that the pace was a bit slow. He still won his heat comfortably at Oregon Twilight by over a second and took seventh in the overall 800 in an event dominated by collegians and post collegians.

Sam Prakel of Oregon won the 800 in 1:49.57.  He finished 0.1 ahead of fellow Duck James West.

Maton said his progress has been good and that he is gearing up for the Brooks National meet, which is set for June 8 in Seattle.  He finished eighth in the 800 last year at that meet in 1:53.80.

“I got into Brooks — now I want to win it,” he said. He is going to nationals for the mile, in which he has the No. 2 time in 4:08.32. He thinks he can get down to 4:03. 

Maton said he’s been getting into the part of the season where he is transitioning into more speed to prep for some of the upcoming big meets, including Brooks. But he isn’t dropping down in significant mileage: He will still be logging 60-mile weeks.

He said he enjoys running on Hayward and has a good connection to Hayward since his brother Matthew is on the Oregon squad. Daniel ran at Hayward Field for the Oregon Relays earlier this season running on his high school’s DMR team.

“A lot of the guys know me and tell me good luck before I race,” he said.

Maton also had his good luck charm on him,  a medal of St. Daniel he said he wears for every race.

LCC’s Shayla Noil ends season with two personal bests

By Edward Burnette 

Shayla Noil hadn’t run track for two years before this season began. Yet, she set personal records on Friday at the Oregon Twilight Meet in both the 100 meters and the 200 meters for Lane Community College.

Before enrolling at Lane, Noil spent time at Southern Oregon University early in her college career but was unable to stay.

“I was told I would get a scholarship and I didn’t get it,” she said. “I left the first term and went to school to become a medical assistant.”

But she couldn’t stay away from track.

“I was able to get my transcript, and one of my professors paid off my whole balance and I was able to go to Lane,” Noil said. She’s only been at Lane for two and a half months but is already making an impact on the track.

On Friday, Noil set her new personal record and placed fourth in the 100 with a time of 12.18 seconds. She finished three spots behind the eventual winner of the race, Kaylah Robinson of Oregon, who ran 12.03. Noil’s time matched that time in a wind-aided run at the OSU High Performance Meet in late April.

Noil also ran the 200 in a personal record 24.86 later in the meet. Sarah King of George Fox University won the race in 24.57.

“Every meet I feel like I’m getting better and better, and I just want to see what the end of the year is going to look like,” Noil said. “I’ve only been at Lane for two and half months so I’ve just been catching up.”

The tumultuous nature of Noil’s path to Lane pales in comparison to the up-and-down experience of her childhood. When Noil was just 7 years old, she and her family were forced out of their home in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina. They lived out of a tent on their land but left for Mississippi in hopes of safer conditions. Five years later, they moved back to New Orleans.

Yet this was not their last move. Before Noil began her sophomore year of high school, she and her family left for Portland for their own protection. Noil’s father was a domestic abuser and her mother had finally decided to leave for good. Noil enrolled in Grant High School in Portland.

The goings-on of life can be drastically different from New Orleans to Portland, yet two things remained constant for Noil: track and family.

“I think family has been a huge part,” she said. “My brothers go to the University of Idaho and play football, and it’s just the family piece. I want to do the best I can for my mom and my family.

“Track has been able to help me take my mind of things that have happened in my life and it’s a place where I can just let go.”

Seth Nonnenmacher Wins Men’s Javelin

By Collin Catman 

As the Hayward Field crowd gave its respects to accomplished former Ducks Mitch Modin and the 2007 Pac-10 champion javelin thrower Ryan Brandel, defending NCAA Division III champion Seth Nonnenmacher of George Fox University was quietly preparing to win an event that eluded his grasp last year.

And that is just what he did.

After finishing third in the men’s javelin last year at the Oregon Twilight Meet, Nonnenmacher secured first place with his first throw, which traveled 227 feet, 6 inches, beating out Andrew Bloom of Whitworth, the second-place finisher in the Twilight last year, by eight feet.

“There was some good competition out there last year as well as this year,” Nonnenmacher said. “I was fortunate to pop off a good one there right in the beginning. And the further I go on, it’s nice to stay on that level. But sometimes you fall off, and you saw that there at the end.”

Nonnenmacher’s subsequent throws did not come close to equaling his first, as his next closest throw was five feet short of the winning throw.

Nonnenmacher fended off his Division III rival Bloom, currently ranked No. 2 behind the defending champion, as Bloom also had his best throw in the first attempt.

“I do like it when there is good competition and when people are stepping one up on the other that is motivating to throw it further,” Nonnenmacher said. “Andrew is a great thrower and he’s been very consistent in the 220s and he’s awesome. But we’ve had an ongoing competition for quite a while.”

Bloom and Nonnenmacher went back and forth after their first throws, as Bloom beat out Nonnenmacher on the fourth throw by a foot and on the sixth throw by two inches.

“Two weeks ago at our conference meet, he threw 229 and I threw 234, which are two great marks,” Nonnenmacher said. “It’s awesome to have that competition where we’re constantly pushing each other and we’re making each other better. We’re right there on the same level right now.”

Rounding out the top three was Ryan Brandel, a former Pac-10 champion, who finished with a throw of 208-3, besting his mark last year by five feet.

Looking ahead, Nonnenmacher knows there is still work to be done, despite being the No. 1 seed in Division III.

“Just kind of getting my timing down and my speed,” he said. “A lot of times I’m coming way too quick into the throw, so my body can’t really handle it. Sometimes I try to correct that, and then I go too slow and I don’t have enough energy, and I try to arm it.”

Though he won, Nonnenmacher didn’t quite accomplish everything he hoped in the Twilight.

“I was hoping to get a PR,” he said. “My goal is to throw 75 meters, and my PR now is 71 ½, I believe.”

If Nonnenmacher gets to the 75 meter mark, he will be the all-time leader in Division III history. Having already won the national title, being the all-time leader is the only landmark not in Nonnenmacher’s possession.

Chambers returns to Hayward Field with 200-meter win

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.

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