Track and Field
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- Dryol Burleson - Track and Field
Dyrol Burleson was Oregon's first great middle-distance runner, reaching the Olympic finals in the 1,500 meters in both 1960 and '64.
Born in Cottage Grove in 1940, Burleson won the national championship in the mile in 1959, '60 and '61, and was the world's top-ranked runner in the 1,500 in 1961 while still competing for the University of Oregon. He was unbeaten throughout his college career and helped the Ducks win the 1962 NCAA championship.
Burleson was the first to best the 4-minute mile barrier at Hayward Field, when he ran 3:58.6 during a meet in 1960. The time established an American record.
Prior to the '64 Tokyo Summer Games, he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
He placed sixth in the 1,500 in the 1960 Rome Olympic Summer Games and fifth in Tokyo in 1964. An injury kept him from competing in the 1968 Olympic Trials.
Burleson worked 31 years as an administrator for the Linn County regional parks department before retiring in 1997, and regularly ran 50 miles per week. He was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1980, the University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993 and the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2010.
- Dick Fosbury - Track and Field
Among the athletic legends within the state, few have had the impact on their sport like Dick Fosbury, who revolutionized the art of high-jumping so much that the style was named after him – the “Fosbury Flop.”
Born in 1947, Fosbury grew up in Medford and found his way to the basketball and track and field teams at Medford High. His basketball career did not advance and he struggled with the track and field team competing in the high jump using the established technique: the straddle or Western Roll, which ended with jumpers landing on their feet on a pile of sawdust.
While trying to master the outdated upright scissors method as a junior, Fosbury developed a method of jumping where he cleared the bar head first and landed on his shoulders on a foam pad, which was just becoming available. As a sophomore, he was unable to clear 5-feet and qualify for state. As a junior, he cleared 6-feet, 5.5 inches and finished second at the state meet.
Fosbury advanced to Oregon State in 1965 and continued to improve enough that he cleared 7 feet in 1968 and won the NCAA title as a junior. He then won the U.S. Trials for the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Summer Games.
In Mexico City, Fosbury won the Gold Medal and set an Olympic record at 7 feet, 4.25 inches.
Fosbury again won the NCAA title in 1969. But by the ’72 Olympic Trials most of the top jumpers had adopted the Fosbury Flop and he failed to make the U.S. team.
The following year, he became an engineer full-time.
The Fosbury Flop enabled the world record, which had been stuck at 7 feet, 5.75 inches since 1963, to begin advancing again in 1970. It passed 8 feet, ½ inches in 1993, which remains the world record.
Fosbury was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1980.
- Dan Kelly -Track and Field
Dan Kelly won a silver medal in the long jump at the 1908 London Summer Olympics, just two years after finishing a 100-yard race in 9.6 seconds, which established a world record.
Born in 1883, Kelly grew up in Baker City and attended the University of Portland (then Columbia University) where he was a standout in track and field. He transferred to the University of Oregon to compete under coach Bill Hayward in 1905. The following spring, he ran 9.6 in the 100 during a meet in Spokane, Washington. Later in the meet, he tied the world record in the 220-yard dash at 21.2 seconds.
Kelly, who was 5-foot-10 and also competed under the Multnomah Athletic Club banner, was Oregon's first national champion in track and field in 1907, when he won the long jump at 23 feet, 9.5 inches. He jumped 23-3.25 in London to finish second.
Injuries curtailed Kelly's career in 1909.
Kelly was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1980 and the University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992.
- Jim Bailey - Track and Field
Jim Bailey helped establish the middle-distance races as a foundation for the University of Oregon program during his years at the school, 1955-57.
An Australian by birth, he won the NCAA title in the mile in 1955, then became the first runner to break 4 minutes on American soil in 1956. Bailey ran 3:58.6 during a meet at the Los Angeles Coliseum, which was watched by an estimated 40 million television viewers in the hours following the Kentucky Derby. Bailey beat fellow Australian and world record holder John Landy in the race, which caused Australia to turn on him.
Later in the year, Bailey qualified for the Melbourne Summer Olympic Games in the 800 and 1,500, despite regularly being booed by his countrymen. In the Games, he faltered in the 800 semifinals and didn't run the 1,500.
Bailey, who came to Eugene at age 26, spent his later years in Washington, working as a salesman for sportswear as well as real estate. He was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and the University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.
- Otis Davis- Track and Field
Otis Davis picked up track at a late age, but matured quickly in the sport and won two gold medals at the 1960 Rome Summer Olympic Games before settling into a life of coaching and public service.
Born in 1932 in Alabama, Davis came to Eugene as a basketball player following four years in the Air Force. Although he never lettered in basketball, he took up track having never run in a meet and competed for the Ducks in 1958-60. He won just one major title - the 440-yard final in the Pacific Coast Conference championships in 1959, but learned enough of the sport to take on the world the following year.
In 1960, he became the first runner to break 45 seconds in the 400 meters and won in 44.9 seconds, edging out a German Carl Kauffmann in a photo finish in Rome. The win made him the first University of Oregon competitor or alumnus to win a gold medal. He anchored the winning 4x400 relay team to a gold medal as well.
Following his retirement from the sport, he became a coach and popular columnist in Europe, and then educator and community activist on the East Coast.
Davis was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1981, and the University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992. He also is a member of the New Jersey Sports Writers Hall of Fame.
- Harry Jerome - Track & Field
Harry Jerome found his way from Canada to Eugene and became one of the state’s greatest performers, setting a world record three times and competing in three Olympic Summer Games before becoming a civic advocate for athletics.
Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1940, Jerome played football and baseball as a youth, but excelled as a sprinter and hurdler and set the Canadian record in the 220-yard dash at age 18. A year later, he equaled the world record of 10.0 seconds in the 100 meters during the Canadian Olympic Trials. He competed in the 1960 Rome Olympics prior to enrolling at the University of Oregon, where he won two NCAA titles from 1962-64.
He represented Canada and won a bronze medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and competed in the ‘68 Mexico City Olympic Games as well.
Jerome set the world record in both the 100 yards and 100 meters during his career and ran the anchor leg on the 440 yard relay team comprised of University of Oregon sprinters that set the world record in 1962.
Following his career, Jerome helped create the Ministry of Sport in Canada. Vancouver, B.C., is home to the Harry Jerome Invitational Track Classic each summer. He died in 1982 at age 42.
Jerome was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and the University of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
- Ed Moeller - Track and Field
Ed Moeller played football for the University of Oregon, but made his mark on history as a discus thrower who once held the world record.
Moeller played alongside Bill Bowerman as a fullback and then quarterback on squads that were a combined 20-7-2 in 1929-31.
In 1929, Moeller, under the guidance of coach Bill Hayward, won the Pacific Coast Conference title in the discus, then finished second at the NCAA Championships to Pete Rasmus of Ohio State, who set a world record in the event at 159 feet, 1 7/8 inches. During a meet later in the year, Moeller set the record at 160 feet, 7 7/10 inches.
He finished third in the NCAA championships the following two years and his athletic career closed out soon afterward.
Moeller was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.
- Steve Prefontaine - Track & Field
Steve Prefontaine was the greatest distance runner in the history of Oregon track and field. A native of Coos Bay, “Pre” was the first collegian to capture four consecutive 3-mile/5000 meter gold medals at the NCAA championships (1970-73). He also earned three NCAA cross-country titles (1970,71,73).
Prefontaine owned every record from 2 miles to 6 miles (and metric equivalents) at the time of his death in a 1975 auto accident. He set a national high school record in the two mile (8:41.5) in 1968, and earned a spot on the UO’s exclusive sub-4 club with a 3:57.4 mile, the second fastest in high school history. He placed 4th in the 5000 meters at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Quote: “My real goals are just to run as fast as I am physically able. I don’t really know my limits. So far, nothing has been too hard. I’m still improving and until that stops I can’t predict anything”.
- Margaret Johnson-Bailes - Track and Field
Margaret Johnson Bailes remains one of Oregon’s greatest prep sprinters and won a Gold Medal in the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics as a member of the 4x100 relay team while still in high school. And then, she disappeared from the national and world scene.
Bailes grew up in Eugene and was discovered at age 9 after winning an all-comers meet while wearing a dress and dress shoes she had on because she originally planned to attend a movie with friends. Local coach Wendy Jerome, wife of coaching legend Harry Jerome, saw her run and began directing her talent. Because of her speed, she regularly ran against boys and then college men.
Bailes attended Churchill High School and, as a junior in 1968, helped the Lancers finish second to Sheldon in the first OSAA state meet, which consisted of 11 events. She won the 100- and 200-yard finals and ran a leg on the winning 440-yard relay team.
That year, she also ran 11.1 in the 100 meters, equaling the world record, and 22.95 in the 200, which was an American record. She won the 200 and finished second in the 100 at the U.S. Olympic Trials, but contracted pneumonia prior to the Olympics and finished only fifth in the 100 and seventh in the 200. She ran the second leg for the 4x100 relay team, which won and established a world record at 42.8 seconds.
Following the Games, she learned she was pregnant and became a parent along with husband Eddie Bailes. They moved from Eugene the following year, and she never ran in a meet again.
Despite her short career, her accomplishments were significant and she was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2009, the renovated track she practiced on near Churchill High School was named for her.
- Mac Wilkins - Track & Field
Two-time Olympian Mac Wilkins captured a gold medal in the discus at the 1976 Montreal Olympic games and a silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He was the 1976 Hayward Award winner as Oregon’s top amateur athlete. Mac established a world discus record on four separate occasions. He won the national AAU discus championship an incredible six times. 1973 was and outstanding year for the former University of Oregon start as Wilkins won both the NCAA discus title and the PAC-8 title.
- Alberto Salazar - Track & Field
As a prep athlete, Alberto Salazar was ranked #1 in the nation in the 5000-meter by Track and Field News. In 1977, he captained the U.S.A. Junior Track and Field Team. While at the University of Oregon, Salazar was a member of the 1980 U.S Olympic Track and Filed Team and was named the Ducks’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Salazar won the New York City Marathon three years in a row (1980-82), setting a world and American record in 1981 with a time of 2:08:13. In 1981-82, he was ranked the #1 marathon runner in the world and in the top ten for the 10,000 meter, 5K and 10K runs. He was named Runner of the Year in 1981 by Running Times magazine, and again in 1982 by both Runner’s World and the Runner. In 1982, he set a course record time of 2:08:51 to win the Boston Marathon.
- Rudy Chapa - Track & Field
One of the University of Oregon’s greatest and most versatile distance runners and the only one other than Steve Prefontaine that is the top-10 ranked for the Ducks in the 1,500 meter, 5,000 and 10,000 meters. During his career, Rudy was an NCAA champion in the 5K in 1978, three-time track All-American in the 5K (1978, 1979, 1981), four-time All-American in the cross country, and two-time Pac-8/10 1,500 champion. At the U.S. level, he held the American record in the 3,000 and was the top-ranked American 5K runner in 1979 as a collegiate junior (also second in the 1978 and 10th in 1980), and was 10th ranked in the 1,500 in 1978. His 1978 NCAA 5K title (with cheers of ‘Rudy, Rudy” from the thousands of fans at UO’s Hayward Field) is one of Track City USA’s most celebrated memories (along with his American record in the 3K a year later which broke Pre’s former mark). He also was a favorite for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team in the 5,000 but suffered an injury.
He is the former Oregon record holder in the 5,000 meters (13:19.22), which still ranks him second at UO and also second all-time among American collegians behind former teammate Bill McChesney Jr. For the Ducks, he also still ranks sixth in the 1,500 (and second when he ran it back in 1979), seventh in the mile (3:57.04), and fifth in the 10,000 (28:51.1, 1977). On the all-time U.S. list, Rudy still ranks sixth in the 3,000 (7:37.70) with his then-American record from Oregon Twilight, 17th in the 5K(13:19.22) and 31st in the marathon (2:11.13 New York marathon debut in 1983).
One of the most celebrated U.S. prep track stars, Chapa still owns the U.S. junior 10K record (28:32.7 which was a world junior record) from the 1976 Drake Relays which qualified him for the 1976 Olympic Trials as a high school senior. He still owns Indiana state championship records of 4:04.20 (1,600) and 8:55.10 (3,200). Overall, he won or shared four state titles in track and field and cross-country.
- Mary Slaney - Track & Field
Mary Slaney moved to Eugene in 1979 and began training at South Eugene High School with Nike's Athletics West track team.
She went on to become the only athlete to hold U.S. track records from 800 to 10,000 meters. In 1982, she set world records in the mile (4:18.08), 2,000 meters (5:32.7), 3,000 indoors (8:47.3), 5,000 (15:08.26) and 10,000 (31:35.3) and received the Sullivan Award as the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Slaney won both the 1,500 and 3,000 at the 1983 world championships in Helsinki, Finland. During her illustrious running career, she set 36 national records and 17 world records, despite repeated injuries. In 2003, she was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame.
- Dave Johnson - Track & Field
Dave's family moved to Corvallis and he began to take sports very seriously during his senior year at Crescent Valley High School. He attended Western Oregon and Linn-Benton Community College and then he moved on to Azusa Pacific. In 1986, this decathlete won his first of four U.S. Track and Field National Championships with an 8203w. He racked up the world's highest scores in both 1989 and 1990 with 8549 and 8600w points, respectively. He also co-held the American record in the javelin, won the World University Games, and was ranked 2nd in the World. This two-time Olympian won the decathlon Bronze Medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games while competing on a broken foot. USA Today tabbed Dave as the "world's best known bronze medalist". He became famous around the country on a first name basis thanks to Reebok who ran television and print ads featuring the dueling "Dan vs. Dave" ads which asked the question "Who will be the world's greatest athlete?" Dave is currently working as an Assistant Vice Principal and Athletic Director of a high school in Oregon.
- Dan O'Brien - Track & Field
Born in Portland, he attended Henley High School in Klamath Falls. In 1984 he was selected as a high school decathlon All-American. He then went on to attend the University of Idaho and in 1989 was named the Big Sky Track Athlete of the Year. In 1991 he won the first of his five United States Track and Field National Championships. Dan went on to win three World Championships and was ranked as the world's top decathlete six times between 1991 and 1998. In 1992, he set the Decathlon World Record of 8891 points. He also set a World Record in the indoor Heptathlon, won a Gold Medal at the 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia and his dominance of the Decathlon made Dan a household name leading up to the 1996 Olympic Games. In 1996, he won the gold medal in Atlanta and earned the title of "World's Greatest Athlete". Dan currently resides in Arizona and works as a network television commentator for Track & Field events.
- Lance Deal - Track & Field
Lance Deal’s earliest athletic achievements included All-State honors in football, wrestling and track at Natrona high School in Casper, Wyoming. He went on to graduate from Montana State university in Bozeman, Montana. He competed is the 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 summer Olympic Games, winning a silver medal in 1996 in Atlanta in the hammer throw.
Deal finished second in the hammer at the 1989 and 1994 World Cup and at the 1998 Goodwill Games, and is a two-time Pan Am Games Champion. He is a four-time Olympian, he holds the U.S. hammer throw record of 82.52 meters/270 feet, 9 inches and was ranked #1 in the world in that event in 1996. Lance is the owner of 12 U.S. Indoor 35-lb. weight-throw titles.
He retired after the 2001 season, but he returned to win the 2002 Men's National Hammer Title. Deal is currently an assistant shot, discus and hammer coach at University of Oregon. He will oversee all four throws events for both Oregon men’s and women’s units in 2007-08 for the fifth straight season.
- Kelly Blair-LaBounty - Track and Field
Kelly Blair-LaBounty is widely regarded as being among the University of Oregon’s greatest student athletes having won the NCAA Heptathlon title as a junior and qualifying for two Olympic Games.
Born in 1970, Kelly Blair grew up in central Washington and won two basketball state titles as well as 10 individual titles in track and field at Prosser High School. She won the USA Track and Field Junior national title in 1989 in the heptathlon.
Blair moved to Eugene as a two-sport athlete, but focused on track after two seasons on the basketball team (1990-92).
In 1993, she won the Pac-10 and then NCAA title in the heptathlon and won the Bronze medal at the World University Games. In ’96, she won the U.S. National title and qualified for the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games, where she finished eighth. She again won the US title in ’97 and ’98 and qualified for the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, but did not compete due to injury.
Following her athletic career, she became a coach at Seattle Pacific University, the University of Oregon and married former Oregon football standout Matt LaBounty.
She was inducted to the Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.