Oregon Men Earn National Track & Field Championship Title
The University of Oregon men's track and field team ended a 30-year dry spell by earning the national title at Hayward Field Saturday. The Oregon women took third in the NCAA Championships held in Eugene.
More than 11,000 fans packed the stands at Hayward Field on the final day of competition. The crowd finally saw the sun break through the thick clouds in the men's 1500 meter; Oregon senior Mac Fleet won his last collegiate race.
Fleet: "Individual stuff aside, our team this year is fantastic. You know, everyone is pretty much healthy and this is the first time in like five years we've had a team like this and it's so exciting. You know everyone is just so excited for each other. We're leaving the hotel to come watch each other compete. We're here Wednesday watching Dakota run the hundred."
Fleet's performance helped the Oregon men earn the first outdoor title since 1984.
Fleet: "Indoors is fun but that's like doing well in Vegas. You know that's what I always say. You know outdoors is something different. Outdoors is the real show. We haven't won one in 20 years, since Bill Dellinger was coach here. It just speaks to our staff and our athletes that we have. We're committed every single day, all year."
It actually has been 30 years since a national title, back in 1984, before these college athletes were born.
And former coach and Olympian, Bill Dellinger, was at Hayward Saturday, handing out awards.
Mac Fleet says he'll now pursue a career as a professional runner. In the next week, he plans to sign with an agent and pick up endorsement deals.
Duck football receiver, Devon Allen, ran hard enough in the 110-meter hurdles to get the second fastest collegiate time. The record from 1979 still stands. He says for him, football comes first, and he'll begin drills with the team in two weeks. He had to drop 20 pounds to help him be a more efficient runner, something he says his football coaches also wanted.
Allen: "Since like 6th grade you know I've been doing football, track, basketball, baseball, soccer. And it's a little bit easier now that I'm in college and I can only focus on two sports. So I think you know with this season it definitely gave me confidence that I can do both sports for the rest of my college career and then go from there."
While the Hayward crowd is always supportive of visiting teams, there was a round of booing when the men's team from Arizona was announced at the start of the 4x400 relay. The reason? On Thursday Oregon sprinter Arthur Delaney was called on a lane violation. Arizona protested and Oregon was disqualified from the event. In the end it wouldn't matter though, as the UO men got all the glory, the trophy and the national title.
Team and crowd: "Go Ducks! Go Ducks! Go Ducks!"
UO sophomore Jenna Prandini has become a crowd favorite this season, and she didn't disappoint. She took the national title in the long jump, placed 2nd in the 200 meter and 3rd in the 100 meter.
Prandini "This meet has really made me grow as an athlete. My coaches and I have seen some weaknesses that I have and next year we'll just tweak it all and hopefully I'll come back even stronger."
The usually robust Hayward fans were silent before the starting gun blasted for the final event, the women's 4x400 relay.
Track announcer: "At this time we're underway…Oh my! Texas A&M will miss the collegiate record by one-one-hundredths of a second! The Aggies win their 5th national title on the women's side in the last 7 years. Congratulations to them."
The total attendance for the four day meet was estimated at 40,000. The stands won't be empty for long, the World Junior Championships take place July 22nd to 27th.