It’s not often that American track and field fans get to witness the kind of competition they will get to see this weekend at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
At the top of the heap are the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, our national championships, with the top finishers earning spots on the U.S. team for the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
Next on the chart is the U.S. Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which pits the top 18- and 19-year old athletes in the country. The junior championships are used to select the squad that will compete at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships in Miramar, Fla.
And finally, not to be overshadowed, Hayward is home to the Nike Track Nationals, which pits the top 12 boys and girls high school teams against each other.
All three of these events will be running simultaneously at Hayward, which started on Thursday and finishes on Sunday.
There is a healthy list of athletes from the East Valley and Arizona State University in Eugene this week. Most notable are the two high school teams competing in the Nike Track Nationals.
The Chandler girls and Brophy boys will compete in the Nike event, which is on Saturday evening. The Wolves won the girls title last year and enter the meet seeded second behind Long Beach (Calif.) Poly.
The format for the Nike meet is unique. Simply, it’s like a decathlon, with each of the 12 boys and 12 girls teams entering one athlete in each event. The performances are then scored based on a decathlon scoring system and the team with the highest point total wins. An individual athlete can only do up to two events, so the meet is a good measure of a team’s overall strength.
Chandler, which has won six straight state titles in Arizona, is led by Hannah Carson, who will compete in the discus and high jump. The Wolves also have state champions Jasmine Todd (long jump), Ky Westbrook (100), Sherelle Jordan (100 hurdles) and Haley Bowser (pole vault). Also scheduled to compete are Bacall Sterling (400), Dezirae Elias (800) and Bianca Finn (shot put).
Brophy is led by Devon Allen, who will run the 100 and 110 high hurdles, as well as distance duo Tommy Williams (800) and Will Firth (mile). Other Broncos scheduled to compete are Ian Parker (400), Cole Walsh (pole vault), James Harper (high jump), Josh Dennard (long jump) and Daniel Vimmerstadt (discus).
Chandler’s Carson will be the lone athlete in Eugene this weekend that will take part in all three events going on. Along with her Nike duties, she is scheduled to compete in the U.S. championships in the javelin, as well as the junior championships in the shot put, discus and javelin.
Todd will also compete in the junior championships in the long jump and the triple jump.
Mesa Community College sophomore Lewis Todd, Jasmine’s brother, will compete in the junior men’s long jump and triple jump, as will another former Chandler standout, Yusuf Muhammad, who will compete in the 400-meter hurdles.
Aaron Hill, who went to Williams Field and currently attends Grand Canyon University, will compete in the long jump, and recent Basha graduate Garrett Starkey, fresh off of setting a new personal best of 16-feet, 5 1/2-inches last week at the state Junior Olympic championships, will compete in the pole vault.