Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2012 Nike Prefontaine Classic only weeks away!

Paul Tanui (l), who was 9th in Daegu will come to Eugene to earn a spot on Kenya's Olympic team  (Paul Merca photo)
For track and field fans living in the Pacific Northwest who can't get the time off to head to Eugene for the US Olympic Trials at the end of June, your best bet is to make the trip to Track Town USA on June 2nd for the Nike Prefontaine Classic at Historic Hayward Field.

The Pre, which is part of the Samsung Diamond League series of international meets, will actually take place over two days, with Friday June 1st tabbed by meet promoters as Hollister Night at Hayward, in tribute to the late Geoff Hollister, the long time Nike track & field promo man who was a key player in the Prefontaine Classic.

Hollister Night at Hayward will include the women's hammer, which includes world record holder & 2007 world champ Betty Heidler of Germany in a matchup against reigning world champ Tatyana Lysenko of Russia and 2009 world champ Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland.

The women's discus features reigning Olympic champ and new American record holder Stephanie Brown-Trafton against three time US Olympian and University of Washington alum Aretha Thurmond, and Sandra Perkovic of Croatia.

The highlight of Hollister Night at Hayward will be the Final Olympic Trials men's 10000 meter race for the spots on the Kenyan Olympic team. The Kenyan federation will bring in the top 15 runners from its pre-Trials in Nairobi to race for two spots, with the third member to be selected by committee.

Former Washington State University standouts Ebba Jungmark (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Sweden and Bernard Lagat from Tuscon are scheduled to compete at the Pre.

Jungmark, who was the 2008 NCAA indoor high jump champion for the Cougars, and who tied for second at the IAAF world indoor championships in Istanbul back in March, makes her return to the Pacific Northwest and jump in a stacked field that includes defending world champion Anna Chicherova of Russia, world indoor champ Chaunte Lowe, and Ariane Friedrich of Germany, who was out all of last season recovering from Achilles tendon surgery.

Lagat, a member of WSU's hall of fame, is entered in the Bowerman Mile, the event that traditionally ends the meet.

Lagat goes against reigning world and Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, along with Silas Kiplagat and Haron Keitany of Kenya. Throw into the mix world championship bronze medalist and local hero Matthew Centrowitz, and magic is bound to happen.

The men's 5000 features a matchup between comebacking Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, the defending Olympic champion, against Great Britain's Mo Farah, the reigning world champion.

In the weeks to come, fans can get updated information on the fields for the Nike Prefontaine Classic by visiting

If you can't make it to Eugene, the meet will be televised live on NBC Sports.

NOTE: The Prefontaine Classic contributed to this report.

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