They don’t call Eugene, Oregon ‘Tracktown USA’ for nothing.
Hayward Field, built in 1919 and home to the University of Oregon Track & Field teams, isn’t just recognized at the collegiate level, but on the national stage.
Every passing season has brought changes, but the two constants have been excellence and accolades. More USA Olympic Track and Field Trials and NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted than any other venue; more “World’s Greatest Athlete” titles bestowed upon decathlon world record breakers than at any other venue; and more incredible performances than you could name in the time it took Pre to run a mile. (Hayward Field history).
When it was announced that historic Hayward Field would be remodeled, there was a lot of emotion on both ends of the spectrum. Some were happy about the remodel, making the stadium safer for fans and spectators, new track and field surface, updated design, etc. However, there was definitely some backlash as well for those who shared an emotional connection with the history of what made Tracktown USA so special.
Here are just some of the highlights:
- Hosted first NCAA Championships in 1962
- Football played its last game in Hayward Field in 1966
- Hosted U.S. Olympic Trials in 1972
- Appeared in the movie ‘Animal House’ in 1978
- Hosted IAAF World Junior Championships in 2014
Former Oregon track star and Olympian Ashton Eaton joins host Jordan Kent on the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast.
Eaton shared some of his favorite memories at the historic Hayward Field, specifically the Olympic Trials in 2012.
I remember sitting basically off to the side where the 1500 meter starts for the decathalon. I was about to run, I knew I had to run a certain time to break the world record. I was basically sitting in the storage shed with the decathletes getting ready to run. I just remember it being really quiet in there, which is not normal for decathletes together waiting for an event. — Ashton Eaton
This is where things got interesting…
I think everyone just knew what was happening. My friends and athletes came up to me and said ‘Hey, just let us know if you need help. We’re here for you man, we think you can do it.’ Just that moment, sitting at Hayward knowing there’s fans out there waiting, knowing that 1500 meter line is the first place I remember meeting my future wife (Brianne). So many memories just bottled up into that moment. — Ashton Eaton
Eaton went on to break the world record in 2012 with 9,039 points to beat Roman Sebrle's 11-year-old mark by 13 points.
You can listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast here: