Saturday, January 23, 2016

Portland's track is ready for the world...

PORTLAND—I attended Friday night’s high performance meet at the Nike+ Run Club House of Track not so much to see great competition, but rather to see how the track that will be used for the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field championships would perform when put to the test by great athletes.

While the results from the first two meets are only a small sampling, the feedback from the athletes who competed Friday night indicate that when the track is moved across town to the Oregon Convention Center for the world championships, the athletes from all around the world traveling to Portland will find themselves competing on a world class track.

The athletes and the 1200 spectators who attended the meet at the House of Track didn’t mind the fact that they were competing inside an abandoned warehouse owned by the city of Portland with very little spectator-friendly amenities.  They were happy just to see high-caliber indoor track and field in a city that once had an annual indoor track meet at the old Memorial Coliseum.

Two-time US Olympian and Oregon alum Andrew Wheating (left/photo by Paul Merca), who won the men’s 1500 in a world leading time of 3:39.82, to beat former Ducks Trevor Dunbar (3:40.77) and Will Geoghegan (3:41.08) said afterwards, “The crowd was just phenomenal. I couldn’t be more appreciative.”

Laura Roesler, the Oregon alum and 2014 Bowerman Award winner as the top college track & field athlete, won the women’s 800 in 2:04.04, after missing the 2015 outdoor season with a partially torn right Achilles tendon.

Commenting on the track, which was built by Beynon Sports, the same company that surfaced the tracks at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, as well as Husky Track on the campus of the University of Washington, Roesler said, “It has the perfect amount of bank, the perfect amount of springiness. It even smells good.”

Jenna Prandini, the 2015 Bowerman Award winner who won the women’s 60 in 7.28, said, “The track was awesome. I wasn’t expecting it to be like this. It’s definitely fun to run on.”

Of the warehouse that’s holding the 1400 piece, 2000 ton track before its move across town to the Oregon Convention Center, Vin Lananna, president of TrackTown USA, and head coach of the U.S. men’s Olympic track and field team said, 

“It’s low budget, but it’s high energy, high excitement, and it gets high marks from the athletes. I think they love the track, and they love the atmosphere.”

Before it gets moved, the community will get to run on the track, as local youth teams, along with members of the Portland Nike+ Run Club will do workouts at the venue over the next few weeks.

The House of Track will host two more high performance meets on Friday January 29th, and February 5th, featuring a slew of elite level athletes looking to test themselves on the track before the nationals and world championships.

For more information on the House of Track, visit


In Pullman on Saturday, Washington State’s Thane Pierson cleared 7-1 (2.16m) to break the meet record at the WSU Open indoor track & field meet at their Indoor Facility on the school campus.

The host Cougars won ten events with limited entries, with Liz Harper winning two events, taking the 60m hurdles in a personal best 8.56, and winning the long jump in 18-7 (5.66m).

Brock Eager of WSU won the 35-pound weight throw with a toss of 63-2.75 (19.27m), the seventh best throw in school history.

Eastern Washington’s Kaytlyn Coleman, last week’s Big Sky field athlete of the week, won the women’s weight throw, leading a 1-2 Eagle finish with a distance of 61-4.75 (18.71m).  She also won the shot put with a best of 47-6.25 (14.48m).

NOTE:  Special thanks to the TrackTown USA staff for their help in the coverage of the meet Friday evening.  The sports information office of Washington State University contributed to this report.

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