The U.S. Olympic Team bound for the Rio Games will be well stocked with Pacific Northwest runners and throwers judging from the first weekend of action at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials in Eugene.
An Oregon-Washington duo will take on the world in the decathlon this August.
On Sunday, defending Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton finished the grueling two day, 10-event decathlon at the Trials comfortably on top of the leader board. The Oregon native and former University of Oregon standout scored 8,750 points. That is the top decathlon score in the world this year, all the more remarkable in that Eaton is not 100 percent recovered from some leg injuries suffered in the spring.
Jeremy Taiwo of Seattle punched his ticket to the Olympics for the first time with a herculean effort in the decathlon’s final event on Sunday, the 1500-meter run. The 2013 University of Washington grad landed in second place overall with a personal best score of 8,425.
Also on Sunday, former University of Oregon star English Gardner qualified for the games in Brazil by sprinting to victory in the women’s 100-meters. She clocked 10.74 seconds. Gardner will be joined in Rio by another ex-Oregon Duck, Phyllis Francis, who placed second in the 400-meters with a time of 49.94.
Earlier in the weekend, Portland-based distance runner Emily Infeld made the U.S. Olympic Team with a gutsy second-place finish in the 10,000 meters.
On Friday night in the men’s 10,000 meters, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp punched his ticket to Rio de Janeiro for a second time. Rupp had already made the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team by winning the marathon trials in February. He led the 10K at the Olympic trials from wire to wire.
Close behind Rupp in the sprint to the finish Friday at historic Hayward Field was Shadrack Kipchirchir, a U.S. Army recruit who was born and raised in Kenya. Kipchirchir now trains in Beaverton, Oregon with coach Dan Browne (not coincidentally a former Olympian from Oregon too) as part of the U.S Army’s World Class Athlete Program.
Rounding out the the Northwest contingent who have secured places on the Rio-bound Team USA so far is shot putter Ryan Crouser, who was born in Boring, Oregon, and competes for the University of Texas. Crouser won the shot put competition on the first day of the Olympic trials on Friday.