Disproportionately high number of Northwest runners on team USA

Originally published on July 2, 2012 1:28 pm

EUGENE, Ore. - Two more runners and two javelin throwers from the Northwest claimed spots in the London Olympics on the final day of competition at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

Runners, jumpers and throwers from the Northwest performed well in these Olympic Trials. In fact, more than 20 percent of the athletes on the U.S. Olympic track and field team have ties to our region.

The poncho clad masses who packed the bleachers night after night at historic Hayward Field had plenty of local favorites to cheer for. And night after rainy night, Northwest athletes delivered.

Yes, there is such a thing as home field advantage in track and field. So says former Oregon Duck standout A.J. Acosta, who competed in the men's 1,500 meter race.

"There's something to be said for sleeping in your own bed, being able to cook your own meals... and/or have your family pay for your meals."

The powerhouse sports program at the University of Oregon draws national talent to the Northwest. Many of those track stars stay in the region after graduation.

Auburn, Washington native and U of O grad Jordan McNamara says that creates "peer pressure" to excel.

"I think success breeds more success. We see each other going strong. It motivates us to train harder and get out there."

McNamara wears the green and black uniform of the Oregon Track Club. That's one of three elite training groups sponsored by the Nike company. All three of those groups are based in Oregon, although they spend part of the year training elsewhere.

Distance runner Lisa Uhl was recruited from the Midwest to join the Portland contingent two years ago. She just qualified for the London Olympics in the 10,000 meters. Nike sponsors her, pays her coach, and lets her use the world-class athletic facilities on the company's Beaverton campus.

"If we need the resources, they're there," Uhl says. "It's great. Great treatment, soft surfaces to run on on campus, a great weight room facility. Like I said, anything I need, they're very ready and willing to serve me."

A Nike spokeswoman declined to specify how much the company invests in the elite training stables.

Meanwhile in Eugene, the local organizers of these Olympic Trials aspire to host the qualifying event again here in 2016. The city that calls itself TrackTown USA will have to outbid at least one other potential host city -- Des Moines, Iowa.

On the Web:

U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials:


Track & Field qualifiers with ties to the Pacific Northwest:

Shalane Flanagan (marathon; Oregon Track Club/Portland)

Kara Goucher (marathon; Oregon Track Club/Portland)

Jesse Williams (OTC Elite/Eugene; high jump - reigning world champ)

Galen Rupp (Portland/UO prodigy; 10,000m & 5000m double qualifier)

Matt Tegenkamp (Oregon Track Club/Portland; 10,000m qualifier)

Nick Symmonds (Boise-raised/now Springfield, OR resident, Willamette U. grad; 800m)

Geena Gall (OTC Elite Eugene, 800m)

Becky Holliday (pole vault; former Oregon Duck)

Bernard Lagat (WSU alum; 5000m; London will be Lagat’s fourth Olympics)

Lopez Lomong (Oregon Track Club/Portland, 5000m)

Evan Jager (Oregon Track Club/Portland, steeplechase)

Andrew Wheating (OTC Elite Eugene; 1500m)

Mathew Centrowitz (Nike Oregon Project/UO alum (Dad was Olympian); 1500m)

Dathan Ritzenheim (Portland, 10,000m qualifier; coached by Alberto Salazar)

Ashton Eaton (Eugene/former UO standout, raised in Bend; decathlon world record holder)

Cyrus Hostetler (javelin; Eugene resident, UO grad, Newberg HS)

Brad Walker (pole vault; UW grad, Spokane born and raised)

Lisa Uhl (Oregon Track Club/Portland;10,000m)

Jarred Rome (Marysville-Pilchuck H.S. grad, Boise State alum, now living in San Diego area; discus)

Kara Patterson (javelin; originally from SW Washington, now living in San Diego)

Rachel Jurkovich (javelin; Univ. of Oregon alum, Newberg HS grad)

Bridget Franek (OTC Elite Eugene; steeplechase)

Aretha Thurmond, (discus; former UW Husky, Renton HS alum; nee Hill)

Ryan Bailey (former Oregon high school champion from Salem; 100m)

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