EUGENE, Ore. – Boru Guyota won an exciting men’s 1,500 meters and Duck alums Ashton Eaton, Jordan Kent, Britney Henry and Andrew Wheating thrilled the crowd on a drizzly Friday night at the Oregon Twilight meet.
In front 6,251 fans that included actor Sam Elliot, around 100 track and field alumni and scores of former varsity athletes who are in town for this weekend’s Women in Athletics Celebration, Guyota brought the crowd to its feet by pulled away from a tight pack with 200 meters to go and holding off Jared Bassett of Portland. Guyota, a freshman from Ethiopia by way of Portland, won in 3:47.47, a personal best by nearly two seconds, with Bassett second in 3:47.88.
"I am really happy with how it turned out," said Guyota. "Coach wanted me to start off a bit conservative, play the field and see how everyone else is running."
The Ducks and Oregon Track Club Elite capped the night by staging an exciting distance medley relay. OTC Elite won in 9:26.07, a time that was less than a second out of the American top-10 list. Oregon finished in 9:28.01, a time that was an all-conditions school record and was also the ninth-fastest collegiate DMR ever.
The OTC Elite squad included Nick Symmonds on the 1,200 leg in 2:51.33, Eaton on the 400 in 45.91, Tyler Mulder on the 800 in an impressive 1:44.74 and Wheating on the 1,600 anchor in 4:04.09 is his first outdoor appearance of 2011.
"I have been itching to get back on the track," said the former Duck NCAA champion. "I wasn’t happy with the time, it’s just good to get back out there."
Oregon was nearly as impressive with junior Matthew Centrowitz on the 1,200 lead leg in 2:51.17, freshman Mike Berry on the 400 in an eye-popping 44.94, Elijah Greer on the 800 in 1:46.30 and senior A.J. Acosta on the anchor in 4:05.60.
In addition to Wheating, former Ducks Eaton, Kent and Henry provided a couple of sparks. Eaton set a meet record in the 110 meter hurdles by running a personal-best 13.52. That broke A.K. Ikwaukor’s 2006 meet record of 14.01 by nearly half a second. Oregon’s Eric Hersey was second in 14.15.
Eaton, who now competed for OTC Elite, also won the long jump with a mark of 25-7.5/7.81m.
Kent, a rare three-sport letterman for the Ducks, won both the 100 and 400 meters. He took the 100 in 10.53 and the 400 in 47.00. Oregon junior Bryan Harper was second in a seasonal-best 47.78.
Henry, who now competed for adidas, won the women’s hammer with a throw of 215-4/65.64m. Sarah Stevens of Shore Athletic Club broke the meet record in the women’s shot put with a throw of 58-9.25/17.91m.
Among the current Ducks were 20 seniors honored in their last regular season home meet, and a number came away with wins. Senior Alex Wolff won the men’s javelin at 216-2/65.89m.
Competing in her final home meet, Amy Skofstad won the women’s long jump in a collegiate best 18-8.5/5.70m. The senior from Gladstone, Ore., won the long jump at Hayward Field for the third time this season.
Senior Melissa Gergel captured the women’s pole vault with a clearance at 13-6.25/4.12m. Fellow senior Jordan Roskelley and freshman Kortney Ross tied for second at 13-0.25/3.97m.
Another senior, Sara Cole, finished sixth in a field of professionals the women’s hammer. The Independence, Ore., native threw a seasonal-best 170-2/51.87m.
Elsewhere, football star LaMichael James won the second section of the 100 meters in 10.76. It was the first 100 meters of the year for the 2010 Doak Walker Award Winner.
Freshman Chizoba Okodogbe was a winner in the women’s 200 meters in 24.21, while sophomore Alexandra Davidson was second in the women’s 100 meters in a personal-best 11.94. Portland State’s Geronne Black won in 11.91.
Freshman Laura Roesler was second in the women’s 800 meters in 2:05.66. Latavia Thomas of Nike won the race in 2:04.66 and sophomore Maggie Pietka won the women’s triple jump with a leap of 36-11.5/11.26m.
Junior Travis Stanford hit a personal best in the men’s 800 meters, finishing third in 1:50.57. Robert Novak of the New York Athletic Club won the race in 1:48.92.
Bridget Franek of OTC Elite nearly got a meet record in her season opener in the steeplechase. She won in 9:56.59, just :05 off the meet mark.
Distance Medley Relay splits:
Oregon Track Club Elite (9:26.07)
Symmonds (1,200/2:51.33), Eaton (400/45.91), Mulder (800/1:44.74), Wheating (1,600/4:04.09).
Acosta (1,200/2:51.17), Berry (400/44.94), Greer (800/1:46.30), Acosta (1,600/4:05.60).