EUGENE, Ore. – We have had a few days for all of the stellar performances from the Oregon Twilight meet to fully sink in, but as we look back, it’s the moments outside of the competition that make the meet special.
Two of the ceremonies at Hayward Field last week were especially touching, including the recognition of the seniors and the honoring of several meet officials.
For the Oregon athletes, Senior Night was celebrated in front of 5,583 fans as 19 Ducks were recognized for their years of commitment to the program just prior to taking one final victory lap together.
Some notable performances from the UO seniors included Greg Skipper winning the men’s hammer throw on his fourth attempt at 227 feet, 3 inches (69.26 meters) and Molly Grabill taking the “B” section of the women’s 1,500 meters by almost three seconds with at time of 4 minutes, 26.85 seconds.
And let’s not forget UO five-sport athlete Liz Brenner, who drew long and loud applause from those in attendance. During her UO career, Brenner has competed in volleyball, sand volleyball, basketball, softball, and track and field. She was a big contributor in all of those sports for the Ducks.
“I’ve had so much fun and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities that I’ve gotten here,” said Brenner, who plans to play professional volleyball overseas after graduation and hopes to make an Olympic team in the future.
The Hayward Field fans were treated to another touching ceremony when 14 meet officials were recognized for their years of service to the TrackTown USA community.
One of those honored was weights and measures official Mike Speer, who was celebrating his 50th year as a Hayward Field official. During that remarkable tenure, Speer has worked five U.S. Olympic Trials, seven USATF Championships and served six years on the Oregon Track Club’s Board of Directors.
One thing most people don’t realize about Speer is that he lives in Edmonds, Wash., north of Seattle. He makes the 600-mile round trip to Eugene for every meet.
“It’s not too bad,” Speer said in a phone interview. “Sometimes I’ll make the circle trip in one day, depending on the meet.”
Speer, a graduate of the University of Oregon law school, first got involved in the UO track and field program through his close friend and fraternity brother, Bill Dellinger, the former UO track and field coach.
In his time as an official, Speer played a big role in getting the weight room built next to the East Grandstands, working closely with former UO great Mac Wilkins, an Olympic gold medalist in the discus. He watched Steve Prefontaine become a UO legend as he ran his way into the U.S. distance running record books.
Speer served as the head official of weights and measures for 30 years, until he had a stroke in 1996.
Twenty years later, he is still making the trek to Eugene, and he can usually be found in the building he helped come to fruition, watching some of the world’s greatest athletes compete on the track he considers a second home.
“I was surprised and extremely honored” to be recognized at Twilight this past weekend, Speer said with great emotion. “It was a great honor. One that I’ll never forget.”
Other notable highlights from UO Twilight meet included amazing performances in the Middle School miles as Nate Hicken won the boy’s race in 4:46.08 and Madison Elmore won the girl’s race in 5:05.94.
UO professor Josh Gordon won the Master’s 3,000 meters in 9:11.81 and UO alum Phyllis Francis swept the 100m and 200m in 11.34 and 22.77, respectively. UO recruit Katie Rainsberger clocked the fifth-fastest time in high school history in the 1,500m with her second-place finish of 4:14.20.