May 5, 2016
By Rob Moseley
No pressure, kids.
When Oregon’s Jack Galpin enters the blocks for the 400 meters Friday in the Oregon Twilight meet at Hayward Field, he’ll do so with Ashton Eaton two lanes to his right, and another UO legend, Mike Berry, next to Eaton.
Ducks junior Ashante Horsley will run 200 meters with former Oregon all-Americans Mandy White and Phyllis Francis in the two lanes to her left. Senior Blake Kemp is in the same 110 hurdles section as UO alum Johnathan Cabral, the NCAA runner-up and a World Championships qualifier for Canada last year.
Among the main attractions of Friday’s meet, along with the chance to enhance qualifying marks for NCAA Regionals, is competing alongside alumni who will get the chance to compete at the venue that will host this year’s Olympic Trials. Hopefully, UO coach Robert Johnson said, the current Ducks will closely watch their accomplished predecessors, and perhaps even steal a chance to solicit some words of advice.
“They’ve helped us for so long, and they’ve been a huge part of our success – the building blocks,” Johnson said. “So for them to come back and talk, to chat, mentor our current athletes is huge.”
Friday’s meet begins with the men’s discus at 1:30 p.m. The first event on the track is the men’s 400-meter hurdles at 2:30 p.m., and an hour later Olympian and UO alum Brianne Theisen-Eaton will race in the 100 hurdles.
An hourlong live television window on Pac-12 Network will conclude the meet, beginning at 6 p.m. Within that hour, UO distance legend Jordan Hasay will race at both 800 and 1,500 meters, and the 400, 110 hurdles and 200 meters will be contested.
Among the current Ducks to keep an eye on will be a group looking to improve on season bests and bolster their chances of qualifying for NCAA Regionals, including hammer thrower Cullen Prena (192-8), javelin thrower Jackson Van Vuren (207-6) and 1,500-meter runner Matthew Maton (3:45.67).
A ticket special is being offered in the wake of last week’s Eugene Marathon. Tickets to the Oregon Twilight are available at goducks.com for $5 by entering the promotional code “MARATHON.” In addition, children 12 and under will be admitted free with an adult.
While their teammates are running, throwing and jumping at Hayward Field on Friday night, Mitch Modin and Joe Delgado will be preparing to kick off the postseason.
The Pac-12 Championships begin with the multi-event competitions Saturday and Sunday in Seattle. Modin and Delgado will look to provide the first points for the Ducks in their pursuit of a men’s team title, and to improve on their season-bests and strengthen their NCAA Championships qualifying chances.
Modin is looking to make his third straight trip to NCAAs in the decathlon, and Delgado qualified last spring as a freshman.
Friday will be Senior Night for 21 members of the UO track and field program, including such notables as Greg Skipper and Jasmine Todd.
Also, Liz Brenner will participate in the 5:40 p.m. ceremony, after throwing the javelin earlier in the meet. Brenner has previously gone through Senior Day with both the volleyball and women’s basketball teams, and participated in softball and beach volleyball over the course of a five-year career that will wrap up with this track and field season.
“It’s really setting in,” Brenner said. “But I’ve had so much fun, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities I’ve had here.”
Brenner is rounding into form in the javelin after completing the beach volleyball season.
“I wasn’t super confident, but now that beach volleyball is done I’m strictly on track, so I can get out here every single day, get in a good, solid workout, and get some one-on-one coaching,” Brenner said. “I’m feeling good and ready to get a big throw this weekend.”