Coaches Bill Hayward, Bill Bowerman, Bill Dellinger and Tom Heinonen played significant roles in shaping Oregon’s track and field dynasty. These Oregon leaders were instrumental in guiding all track and field athletes, from Olympians to recreational participants. They broke down barriers, challenged unfair regulations, and worked to improve the competitive landscape. In addition, they sought opportunities for the University of Oregon to gain recognition and respect on the international stage and helped transform Eugene into “Tracktown, U.S.A.”
Remembering Oregon’s Mentors
During his 44-year tenure at Oregon, Bill Hayward not only molded the track and field team into a national power, but he also served as the athletic trainer and coached basketball. He guided countless individuals to success. He mentored four world-record holders, six American-record holders and nine Olympians.
Bill Bowerman strived to test the boundaries, once saying, “If there are limits to what we can do, I don’t know what they are.” From designing new running shoes to petitioning the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) to improve athlete services, Bowerman forged ahead.
During Bill Dellinger’s 29 years as the head cross country coach, Oregon captured four NCAA Cross Country Championships, five runner-up finishes and four third-place honors. On the track and field side, Oregon brought home one NCAA Championship (1984) under Dellinger.
Although often overshadowed by the era of the legendary “Bills,” Tom Heinonen’s contributions to the University of Oregon track and field dynasty are just as significant. Heinonen played an influential role in the development of women’s athletics at Oregon during his 28-year tenure.