UO alumni

Six Ducks Qualify for men’s 1,500-meter final

By Isaac Gibson

The men’s 1,500-meter final Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials will have an unorthodox 13 men competing in it. And nearly half of those men have worn an Oregon singlet at one time in their careers.

Eight Ducks and former Ducks had advanced to Friday’s semifinals after the first round, and six of those eight Ducks made it into the final. The ones who did not make it were current Oregon athletes Matthew Maton and Sam Prakel.

“It really felt like a Pac-12 race out there,” said Andrew Wheating, who ran 3 minutes, 44.73 seconds to advance on time after becoming a late addition to the field. “In the back of our minds, we are all thinking, ‘We got to beat all of you.’”

Matthew Centrowitz, who qualified second behind Ben Blankenship, is the only Oregon athlete among the four runners with the Olympic standard. If no one runs under 3 minutes, 36.2 seconds in the final, he will be the only one from Oregon that has a chance to make the Olympic team. (more…)

Zika Concerns Won’t Keep Track and Field Athletes From Olympics

By Keeler McJunkin

Olympic gold-medal contender Justin Gatlin is fast on and off the track. Known as a person who won’t shy away from speaking his mind, Gatlin quickly quieted any concern he might have surrounding the Zika virus when the Rio De Janeiro Olympics begin on Aug. 5. 

“I just came back from Rio,” Gatlin said. “I ran a race there and I’m not concerned, to be honest. If I had to do a mosquito count when I was there, I probably saw two mosquitos in four days.”

Concerns from athletes about Zika are tempered at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene this week, especially compared to athletes in some other Olympic sports.

Many star athletes outside of track have voiced their concerns over Zika, which is spread by mosquitos and is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, some of whom have given birth to babies with microcephaly, a brain disease that causes a child’s skull to cave in because there isn’t enough tissue to hold it up.

Some have even withdrawn from going to Rio, including the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy, ranked No. 4 in the world. Day said concerns for his wife and family were why he decided not to play. This is the first time in 112 years that golf is in the Olympics, and Day had pushed for its inclusion.

Track and field athletes, however, don’t have an NBA Finals, World Cup or Masters Tournament to look forward to. The Olympics are their Super Bowl. While some athletes have voiced at least a concern about Zika, it’s not enough to keep any of them away from an Olympic dream that comes around just once every four years.

“I think when you go to any kind of major sporting venue like the Olympic Games or the Super Bowl there’s always some kind of controversy,” said hurdles Aries Merritt. “There’s always controversy with the Olympics. In London, they thought they wouldn’t be ready, they didn’t have the staff, but it was the best Olympic Games. I think Zika is just something that’s come to light because it’s there in Brazil.” (more…)

Two former Ducks make Olympic team in javelin

By Hannah Bonnie

In the men’s javelin final Monday at the U.S Track and Field Olympic Trials, Cyrus Hostetler began clapping to get the crowd pumped up. As the claps grew louder and faster, Hostetler, a former Oregon Duck, let out an ecstatic scream as he threw the winning distance of 273 feet, 1 inch.

“I knew if I just stuck it, it was going to go far,” he said. “The second I hit it, I knew it was gone. I knew I was going to take the lead. … I definitely knew that the only way that I was going to throw far is to really get that crowd behind me and kind of absorb the energy of Hayward Field.”

In celebration, Hostetler ran across the track, angering runners of the men’s 5,000, which was going on at the time, to embrace his coach, Christina Sherwin. At 29 years old, Hostetler had never won a national championship.

“Even though it’s towards the end of my career, I’m just happy that I finally got the medal that I wanted,” he said. (more…)

U.S. Olympic Trials: What Happened On Day 3

Former Oregon Duck English Gardner cries after winning the 100-meter dash in a time of 10.74. Photo by Dillon Vibes

Former Oregon Duck English Gardner cries after winning the 100-meter dash in a time of 10.74. Photo by Dillon Vibes

We saw a spectacular day of action on Sunday, filled with world-leading times, lifetime bests and more athletes securing their spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Kylee O’Connor chronicled the day’s highlights for Run Blog Run, and you can read pieces about individual athletes below:

Trayvon Bromell qualified for his first Olympics alongside Justin Gatlin and Marvin Bracy in the 100 meters. Bromell ran a PR 9.84 in the final, finishing second behind Gatlin, who ran a world-lead 9.80. Romaine Soh covered the event for the Tampa Bay Times.

In what has been called the fastest 100-meter final ever, Tori Bowie qualified for the Olympic Games alongside English Gardner and Tianna Bartoletta. All three qualifiers ran a wind-legal 10.8 or better for the first time ever, and Emma Decker covered it for the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi.

NFL star and 2012 Olympian Marquise Goodwin was unable to make the Olympic team, but that doesn’t mean he failed. Writing for the Syracuse Media Group, Zac Neel talked to Goodwin about his faith and determination through tough defeats, and how he plans to carry this drive into the football season.

With all eyes on him in another Olympic year, former Oregon Duck Ashton Eaton delivered again. The world-record holder in the decathlon wasn’t perfect, but he was good enough to win the gold medal and qualify for his second Olympics. Keeler McJunkin has the story.

LaShawn Merritt dominated the 400 meters, breaking the 44-second barrier and saying that he thinks he should be able to run 43 seconds every time he steps on the track. Hannah Bonnie covered the race for DyeStat.

Isaac Gibson wrote about high-jumper Elizabeth Patterson for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Patterson, who is from Santa Cruz, finished in sixth place and failed to make the Olympic team, although she held the Olympic standard.

Not quite perfect, but another dominating decathlon win for Eaton

By Keeler McJunkin

Athletes like Ashton Eaton don’t come along very often. When they do, all eyes are upon them. On a day when decathlon events began at 10 a.m. and ended just before 6 p.m., there were many fans in the stands for the entire eight hours hoping to see as much of Eaton as they possibly could.

As he walked along the track from the west grandstand to the starting line of the 1,500 meters, the final decathlon event, each section of fans he passed by stood to clap and yell his name.

The reigning Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the decathlon eased his way to fourth place in that 1,500, crossing the finish line to a standing ovation while cruising to victory at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field on Sunday posting a score of 8,750 to win by 325 points.

“My review today was pretty good,” Eaton said. “The goal was just to be smooth. Man, on the throws I was very jittery. That’s the only thing I was frustrated with, but to me in the decathlon if you don’t leave with something frustrated, you should quit because it was perfect.”

Eaton becomes the fourth athlete in history to win two consecutive Olympic trials decathlon titles. It was also his fourth national championship, good for second all-time, behind only Bill Toomey, Tom Pappas and Dan O’Brien, who all own five national titles. (more…)

U.S. Olympic Trials: What Happened on Day 2

Marquise Goodwin, wide receiver and punt retuner for the Buffalo Bills, soars through the air in the long jump. He finished 12 was was the last qualifier for Sunday's final. Photo by Dillon Vibes

Marquise Goodwin, wide receiver and punt retuner for the Buffalo Bills, soars through the air in the long jump. He finished 12th was was the last qualifier for Sunday’s final. Photo by Dillon Vibes

Our team of journalists battled the heat on Saturday at Hayward Field to cover the U.S. Olympic Trials. Here is what we wrote:

In a single jump, Brittney Reese secured her spot on the Olympic team, recorded the longest jump in the year thus far, and broke the Hayward Field record. Reese now holds the second-longest jump by an American, sitting only behind American record-holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Emma Decker has the story for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver and 2012 Olympian Marquise Goodwin qualified for the men’s long jump final, but just barely. Zac Neel, writing for the Syracuse Media Group, asked him about his training balance between track and football, and what it would take to seal a trip to Rio.

Trayvon Bromell, who’s been struggling with injuries in his first season as a pro, posted the top time in the men’s 100-meter prelims, and Romaine Soh has the story for the Tampa Bay Times.

After pulling up short of the finish line cost her a world championship medal in 2015, Molly Huddle refused to let up in the women’s 10,000 meters, taking home the gold and securing a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. Kylee O’Connor has the story.

A total of six current and former Oregon Ducks advanced to the semifinal in the women’s 100 meter dash, with the likes of Jenna Prandini and English Gardner at the front of the pack. Hannah Bonnie anchored our coverage.

Keeler McJunkin wrote for the Tuscaloosa News, covering University of Alabama’s Quanesha Burks, who failed to advance in the women’s long jump. Burks finished in ninth place, one spot away from qualifying for the final.

And Isaac Gibson told the story of javelin thrower Nick Howe, who combined law school with training, for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.


U.S. Olympic Trials: What Happened on Day 1

Sanya Richards-Ross waves to the Hayward crowd as she exits the track for the last time. Photo by Dillon Vibes.

Sanya Richards-Ross waves to the Hayward crowd as she exits the track for the last time. Photo by Dillon Vibes.

Our bureau of reporters and photographers was out in full force at the first day of U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field. The competition was full of expected victories and unexpected defeats – check out our coverage:

Romaine Soh wrote about Galen Rupp’s victory in the 10,000 meters race, the last event of the day. Rupp, an Oregon alum who already qualified for the Olympics in the marathon this February, will now return to the track on Monday to compete in the 5,000, hoping to hit the Olympic standard in that race as well. If successful, he will have to decide which events to run in Rio this August.

Kylee O’Connor covered the men’s shot put, where first-year professional Ryan Crouser upset fan-favorite Joe Kovacs. Crouser, an Oregon native, comes from a family rich with track and field talent – his uncle, Brian, competed in the ’88 and ’92 Olympics as a thrower, and his cousins Sam and Haley will compete in the javelin later this week.

Isaac Gibson talked with Sanya Richards-Ross, a track and field icon who ran her last race on Friday. After dealing with a hamstring issue all season, Richards-Ross pulled out of the 400 with less than 200 meters left, jogging across the finish line for the final time at Hayward Field. Three months after announcing her retirement, Richards-Ross exited the track to a standing ovation from the Hayward faithful.

Keeler McJunkin wrote for the Tuscaloosa News, covering Alabama’s Quanesha Burks, who advanced to the finals in the women’s long jump. Burks, who is the 2016 NCAA long jump champion, was one of four athletes to automatically qualify for the final.

Rupp wins Olympic trials 10,000, announces he’ll run the 5,000, too

By Romaine Soh

Moments after Galen Rupp secured his second spot on the Olympic team in the 10,000 meters on Friday, he declared his intention to compete in Monday’s 5,000-meter prelims at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

“Just keeping my options open,” said the two-time Olympian, who qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in the marathon in February.

However, he does not plan to triple in the Olympics, saying that three events would be way too much for him. The last American to double in the 10,000 meters and marathon at the Olympics is Frank Shorter, who won the marathon and placed fifth in the 10,000 meters at the 1972 Olympics.

The Nike Oregon Project runner won the race on Friday evening at Hayward Field in a season’s best of 27 minutes, 55:04 seconds. Rounding off the podium were U.S. Army runners Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir, who placed second and third, respectively, with times of 28:01:52 and 28:16:97.

A new visual on Rupp was black kinesiology tape stuck on his arms and legs, a sight way more common among sprinters than distance runners.

“It’s just a little bit extra that helps you out,” he said. “I’m happy to try it.” (more…)

Eaton, Felix say injuries won’t stop them at Olympic Trials

By Keeler McJunkin

Defending Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton and four-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix updated the status of their respective injuries during a news conference at the Eugene Hilton Wednesday afternoon previewing the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials that begin Friday at Hayward Field.

Eaton, an Oregon alum, said he injured his quad at a meet in late May, while Felix has been nursing an ankle injury suffered in April.

The injuries caused both to change their training routines leading up to the Olympic trials.

Eaton has been nursing a quad injury suffered during the long jump at Ostrava Golden Spike in the Czech Republic. He said the injury wasn’t serious, but added he could have handled the whole situation better.

“It was simply bad judgment on my part,” Eaton said. “I’d never had something like that. I should have got it scanned right away, and then done all the appropriate things like stay off of it. I just didn’t do it because I’d never had it before.” (more…)

Mo Farah surges in final 50 meters to defend Pre Classic 10K title

By Romaine Soh

After an exhilarating race that saw the lead change multiple times right up to the very end, Great Britain’s Mo Farah powered down the home stretch Friday night to defend his Pre Classic title in the 10,000 meters.

The three-time Pre Classic winner continued his tradition of sub-27 times at the Pre Classic, turning in a season’s best of 26 minutes, 53.71 seconds.

The father of four, double gold medalist in the 5,000 and 10,000 at the 2012 Olympics and the past two world championships, aims to win another two gold medals at the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics to dedicate to his two other kids. “Otherwise the other two are going to go, ‘Daddy, you gave them, not me,’” he said with a chuckle.

“I love my family. I’ve got four kids now — it means there’s more responsibility, you have to plan things ahead. My son was here watching me for the first time. It’s good to have all my family here watching me. It’s just part of life.” (more…)

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