| Malcolm Marble gets ready to lead off the OSU Beaver 4x100 relay
EUGENE - The much-anticipated 2012 outdoor track and field season got off to a frigid start before 5,044 at Hayward Field in Eugene on Sunday, with the University of Oregon hosting a score of area schools, along with a handful of Oregon-based elite athletes preparing for the Olympic Trials here in June.
Despite the intermittent snow showers and 40 degree temperatures, there were some noteworthy performances, and one that ranked as historic. The Oregon State men's 4 x 100 relay team competed for the first time since 1988, when the OSU track program was discontinued. Composed entirely of
Beaver football players, the OSU relay ran 41.78 to place second behind Oregon's 40.68.
OSU Head Coach Kelly Sullivan said the relay group, which consisted of Brandin Cooks, Markus Wheaton, Malcolm Marble and Keynan Parker, had only been able to get in two relay practices this past week, and that lack of practice led to a couple of rocky exchanges. Still, Sullivan was pleased with the performance, and was especially gratified with one more step toward the full restoration of the men's track and field program at OSU. The women's track and field program was brought back several years ago.
"It was another historical moment," Sullivan said. "Since day one this program has been centered around significant moments and this was another one today. It was 24 years ago that OSU had a men's 4x100 compete and we were able to get four really driven football guys (to run). Despite the weather and heading into finals week, there was no way they weren't going to do this.
"We had two practices - Tuesday and Friday - that's all we had practice-wise going into it, but they ran pretty well . . .They probably lost a good second (due to poor handoffs) that would have put them (under 41 seconds) which is very respectable."
Sullivan said the relay team would not practice track during spring football, but would be back in time to put in two weeks of practice before the Pac-12 conference meet in May.
"They'll be at Hayward Field and that will be a pretty special moment for OSU to have a men's 4x100 team in the Pac-12 meet. I think they'll be real competitive."
Among the elite athletes competing was Oregon Track Club Elite runner Sally Kipyego, who won the silver medal for Kenya in the 10,000 meters at the World Championships in 2011. Kipyego, who was looking to test her fitness before she goes to train for a month at altitude, easily won the 3000 meters in a time of 8:53.83.
Former UO All-American Britney Henry won the hammer throw with a toss of 232'01," nearly 80' farther than her collegiate competitors here.
There were also a number of impressive debuts for the University of Oregon, which is coming off a third consecutive women's NCAA indoor championship last weekend.
Jonathan Cabral, the top prep hurdler in the country last year, jumped in the UO's all-time top ten list in the 110 meter hurdles in his very first outdoor race for the Ducks. Cabral won in 13.93, which placed him ninth all-time at Oregon. Cabral also ran a strong leg on one of Oregon's 4 x 400 relay teams.
Barlow High School grad Arthur Delaney won the 400 meters in 47.63 in his debut for the Ducks, and the women's 4 x 100 relay, which included freshman Jenna Prandini along with a veteran crew, blasted a 44.29, the fifth-fastest ever for the UO.