An impressive lineup of Oregon-based talent headlined TrackTown Tuesday in front of a crowd of 150 at the Downtown Athletic Club on March 5.
Oregon head football coach Mario Cristobal started the night by reminiscing on the lessons he learned from his time as an athlete at the University of Miami and as an assistant working under Alabama coach Nick Saban. He also walked the crowd through how his staff built one of the best recruiting classes in the country.
“The number one thing is: it’s Oregon. It sells itself,” Cristobal said. “People ask what do you do that’s different? What is the secret sauce? It’s being genuine, passionate and getting after it. To us, working hard doesn’t cut it. You have to be passionate and fanatical about your approach.”
Cristobal emphasized the inclusion and warmth the city of Eugene has shown to his family. In addition, he spoke about how the connection to the history of Oregon football has had a powerful impact on his team.
“Our young men had to recognize the history of Oregon and what Oregon is,” he said. “You have to know and understand those who came before you. What they did, how they did it and why it is so important. We have our guys take a deep dive into history…Your love for a place genuinely grows when you understand all the people that have worn the same shoes you have worn.”
The UO track and field program was represented by freshman Max Vollmer, sophomore Keira McCarrell and assistant coach Seth Henson.
Vollmer, a decathlete, is eager to start his collegiate career for Oregon this spring after an impressive fifth-place showing for his native Germany at the 2017 European Athletics U20 Championships. He cited former Duck Ashton Eaton as his role model and part of the reason he wanted to come to Oregon.
“Ashton Eaton is the reason why I started doing the decathlon,” Vollmer said. “I like to think about human limits. I’m interested in what I can achieve. Ashton was good in all these events. He was my motivation. I watched all his videos to understand his greatness.”
McCarrell, a javelin thrower who qualified for the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships, is focusing on the heptathlon this season. She described the magical feeling she gets from the Hayward Field fans.
“We had our high school state meets at Hayward,” said McCarrell, who attended West Salem High School. “The culture was so contagious. There’s nowhere else in the country that is going to have a community like this. When you’re coming down that homestretch, the energy brings you home.”
Henson, an Oregon native, works with the UO multi-event athletes along with pole vaulters and high jumpers. He explained the balancing act of coaching multi-event athletes.
“You have to be a jack of all and a master of none,” Henson said. “In the multi venture, always trying to juggle their athletic development with the technical side of it…There is a lot of communication in our room.”
The show’s final guest was Sabrina Southerland, a new addition to the Oregon Track Club Elite roster. Southerland is not a new face in the Eugene community – after graduating from Georgetown in 2017, she joined the Ducks for her final year of collegiate eligibility.
Those in attendance were treated to the video of Southerland’s 800m win at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. Southerland remembered the race well.
“I could hear Coach Johnson say ‘Relax! Relax Sabrina!’” Southerland said. “I just had this really strong surge at the end. I was like, why not? I felt really confident at that point.”
The next TrackTown Tuesday will be April 2.