The NCAA Track and Field Championships are underway at Hayward Field. While dozens of Division One schools are represented, getting here is no small feat.
Visitors to the U of O this week will see gear representing myriad school colors and mascots. Yet most teams send only a handful of people. Mark Elliston is Director of Track and Field at Elon University in North Carolina. He says his program worked for years to earn a spot at the national meet:
Elliston: “We have the good fortune of having our first one in school history, so it's pretty exciting. She's an athlete from the Charlotte area, Bryanna Hames, and she's in the discus.”
Elliston says they've had a few competitors come close at the regional level, placing 14th or 15th. Only the top 12 qualify for nationals. He's excited to finally sit in the stands:
Elliston: “It's always every track coaches' dream to make it to Hayward Field and see all the excitement here at the meet.”
Contending for a team win, as the Duck Women are doing, requires another level of achievement. Mario Wilson is an assistant coach at the University of Virginia:
Wilson: “In order to have a team that's going to compete for the team title you basically have to have people that are ranked at or near the top of their individual respective events, and then you have to have quite a few of them.”
Wilson says UVA brought six men and one woman to Eugene.
The men's finals are Friday starting at 5:00. The women's team title will be awarded Saturday.