Defined by Excellence
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The University of Oregon’s connection to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championships spans nearly a century, playing a defining role in the heritage and future of Track Town, USA.
The grand finale of a season well pursued or a last-chance opportunity to finish the collegiate slate with the best, the NCAA Championships weigh on the minds of athletes throughout their careers. It is more than just another competition; it is the culmination of countless hours of training, learning, and improving.
Oregon’s Individual Stars
Oregon athletes have painted the NCAA All-American landscape with their diverse talents for decades. In 1907, Dan Kelly became Oregon’s first NCAA All-American in the long jump. Since then, more than 300 Oregon track and field stars have followed in his footsteps. Women gained All-American status in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in 1979 and then joined the NCAA in 1982. Running legends Jim Grelle, Dyrol Burleson, and Kenny Moore and field-event masters Lynne Winbigler and Mac Wilkins are just a few of the multitude of Oregon’s All-Americans.
In addition to creating a supportive environment for All-Americans, Oregon also has produced a number of individual NCAA Champions. In 1934, javelin-thrower Bob Parke captured Oregon’s first individual NCAA title, setting the stage for 48 other men’s individual championship titles in 16 different track and field events. Leann Warren claimed the women’s first NCAA individual title in 1982. The women’s team has produced 11 individual champions in nine different events since joining the NCAA in 1982.
The cross-country teams have also garnered top performances. Among a number of Oregon All-American performances, individual titles have also been claimed. Steve Prefontaine won three championships and Alberto Salazar captured solo championship and runner-up honors. On the women’s side, Kathy Hayes’ third-place finish in the 1983 Championships ranks as the highest of a UO female athlete to date.
In addition to individual honors, Oregon also holds several national team titles. Coincidentally, Oregon’s first men’s track and field team title came in 1962, the first year that Eugene hosted the NCAA Championships. Although the feat marked the first time Oregon claimed a national title on its own turf, it was not the first time the University won a championship. In 1929, the men’s tennis team tied with the University of Texas for the national title.
After the legendary 1962 season, men’s track and field team continued on its winning ways, capturing four more titles within the next 22 years. The men’s cross-country team followed suit, claiming four NCAA Championship titles and seven runner-up finishes.
Although the women’s teams have not competed in the NCAA as long as the men, they’ve found similar success. After only one year in the NCAA, the women’s cross-country team claimed its first title in 1983. Under Tom Heinonen’s direction, the women’s team would go on to win an Outdoor Track and Field Championship in 1985 and another cross-country title in 1987.
The University of Oregon gains national exposure from its NCAA Championship athletes and from hosting the competition on its campus. Oregon has hosted ten NCAA Track and Field Championships, more than any other university, and is scheduled to host the 2013 and 2014 championships as well. These events not only boost the Eugene/Springfield economy but also help the community strengthen its reputation as Track Town, USA.
- Cross-country: 2003 marked the men's team's 29th appearance at the NCAA Championships
- Cross-country: Men's Championships – 1971, 1973, 1974, 1977
- Cross-country: Runner-up Honors – 1963, 1964, 1970, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1989
- Cross-country: Women's Championships – 1983, 1987
- Track and Field: Men's championships under Bowerman – 1962, 1964, 1965, 1970
- Track and Field: Men's championships under Dellinger – 1984
- Track and Field: Women's Championships – 1985
- Oregon hosted its first NCAA Track and Field Championship in 1962. However, this was not the first NCAA Championship to be held on Oregon soil. The University hosted the 1959 NCAA Golf Championships.
- Oregon currently ranks fifth for NCAA men's track and field team championships.
- 1930 marked Oregon's first Top Ten finish at the men's track and field NCAA Championships. Since then, the Ducks have finished in the Top Ten 37 times.
- The men's track and field team finished 9th at the 2005, 2004, and 2001 outdoor NCAA Championships, their highest finishes since 1992.
- In the 2005 Outdoor Championships, Oregon captured two runner-up individual honors-Sarah Malone (javelin) and Galen Ruup (10,000-meters).
- In the past six years, Oregon has claimed three of the "Pac-10 Men's Newcomer of the Year" Awards (Galen Ruup-2005, Tommy Skipper-2004, Jason Boness-2001).