Running and track and field demonstrate the persevering attitude that drives the University of Oregon into the 21st Century.
Legendary teacher and coach Bill Bowerman undoubtedly spearheaded efforts that heralded Eugene as “Tracktown U.S.A.” But the foundation for track and field excellence developed years before Bowerman stepped onto the track.
Track and field began at the University of Oregon in 1895. Nine years later, Bill Hayward’s leadership guided the team to the excellence. Throughout the next century, University of Oregon track and field transformed from a recreational pastime into a dominating legacy. Stories detailing the major players and events in this transformation can be found in the following sections of this exhibition.
Tracking a Tradition
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.
From world-class competitors, such as Bill Dellinger and Steve Prefontaine, to regionally-known stars, such as Claudette Groenendaal and Boyd Brown, Oregon’s leading track and field athletes span generations and disciplines, creating a diverse and reputable track and field heritage. Although every student-athlete contributes to Oregon’s track and field history, a select number stand out above the rest.
During the past century, the city of Eugene became known as Track Town, USA. Prominent University of Oregon Track and Field leaders helped garner this reputation for Eugene through their efforts to bring important, high-caliber sports events to the modest Willamette Valley town.
One of the most recognizable and respected track and field venues in the nation, Hayward Field continues to be adapted to meet the changes in the sport, redefining its character and maintaining its presence as a core element in the University’s track and field heritage.