Last updated 6/8/2022 at Noon
Last week, I attended the Diamond League Prefontaine Classic track and field meet, which featured many of the best American and foreign athletes in a smattering of events at the ultra-modern Hayward Field in Eugene.
The meet is just one of a series of high caliber meets to be held in Eugene this summer, including the NCAA championships, the U.S. National Championships, and the big daddy of them all, the World Championships.
For the Worlds, it will be the first time ever the event has taken place in the United States.
During the Pre Classic, I saw not only the Olympic 1,500-meter champion in the mile, 21-year-old Jakob Ingebritsen of Norway, cruise to victory (3:49.76), but also Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh win the women’s high jump at 6-feet-5.5-inches, along with many other world leading results.
Witnessing all of this world-class competition got me thinking about other high-level sports in Oregon and how these upcoming meets compare to the those offerings.
Oregon has just three “major league” sports teams in the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team and the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns soccer teams. Other than that, our biggest sports that gain statewide attention are at Oregon State and the University of Oregon.
From a purely athletic standpoint, all of the upcoming meets at Hayward Field in the next six weeks feature some of the best athletes in the entire world. Many collegians competing in the NCAA meet will be future professionals and even Olympians. The U.S. championship meet is nothing short of the Olympic Trials in that the top three placers in each event have a shot to compete at the World Championships. And, the World Championships, being held virtually right in our backyard, will include athletes from over 200 countries, including scores of Olympians, a number of world record holders, and literally the greatest collection of athletes to ever be in Oregon at one time.
What I am getting at is: Anyone reading this should get a ticket to partake in at least one of these meets.
Eugene is called “Track Town, USA” for a reason. The entire region knows how to make these big meets happen. Hayward Field has been the site of nearly every Olympic Trials in the last two generations and has hosted the NCAA meet many times as well. The new facility is not only stunning to sit in, the seats are actually comfortable and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
What makes it especially exciting for Oregonians is when someone with ties to Oregon is competing. For example, Ryan Crouser, who grew up in Gresham, is the world record holder and Olympic champion in the shot put, while runners like Cole Hocker and Raevyn Rogers, who competed for Oregon, will be entered in the U.S. Championships and likely, the worlds. The crowd goes crazy for these situations and it makes the fan experience electrifying and more personal.
These factors should give anyone who has never been to a big meet at Hayward Field confidence they will be in for a great experience, even if you don’t necessarily consider yourself a track-and-field fan.
Those of us in Sisters Country are less than two hours away from Hayward Field. Parking is not an issue in that shuttles run from Autzen Stadium (or you can make the one-mile walk from there). Tickets, especially for the World Championships, can be spendy, but as I said, it’s comparable to the Olympics.
The NCAA meet takes place June 8-11 with an alternating schedule. Men compete on June 8 and 10 and women on June 9 and 11. Tickets can be purchased for one day or multiple days and range from $23 and up.
The U.S. Championships are scheduled for June 23-26 and tickets start at about $20. (https://www.gotracktown usa.com/2022-usatf-outdoor-championships)
Like the Olympics, the World Championships, dubbed “Oregon22,” run for a total of 10 days, July 15-24. The entire schedule is on the Oregon22 website, along with ticket information. Even attending for one day would be a memorable experience. Organizers have been running some specials recently with ticket prices as low as $50. It is advisable to go to the Oregon 22 website to learn more and keep updated on ticket opportunities.
Be aware that some tickets are hundreds of dollars.
The Olympic Trials, NCAAs, and Pre Classic will take place at Hayward Field in future years, but the World Championships may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I hope to see you there!