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Northwest News Network

'I'm Going To Rio!' 28 Northwest Track Stars Make U.S. Olympic Team

It was clear once again that the Northwest is a hotbed for elite running on the final day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials in Eugene Sunday. Oregon and Washington were well represented in many of the race line-ups. And the same can be said of the U.S. track and field team as a whole.

Close to one-quarter of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team heading to Brazil next month -- 28 runners and throwers -- have Northwest connections.

Time and again the capacity crowds at historic Hayward Field had reason to go nuts for a local athlete. Six more qualified in the final day of action on the track Sunday. The strong representation of athletes with Northwest connections -- especially to Oregon -- is not a surprise to the head coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s track and field team.

“You know, it is Tracktown USA,” Connie Price-Smith said. “They have a great college reputation and you have a lot of post-collegiate athletes that are here training.”

The big Northwest contingent on the U.S. track and field team bound for Brazil is led by Olympic veterans and medal contenders. There's Oregon's Galen Rupp, Evan Jager and Ashton Eaton and the latest addition, 1500-meter specialist Matthew Centrowitz.

Centrowitz secured his place at a second Olympics with a convincing win in the 1500-meters at the Olympic trials Sunday afternoon. He was clocked at 3:34.

“I was joking with my dad last night; he’s a two-time Olympian,” Centrowitz said. “I am now, so he can’t hold that over my head.”

At the 2012 London Games, the Portland-based runner finished in that excruciating fourth place in the 1500-meter final.

“It just seemed like yesterday, it was London,” Centrowitz said as he reveled in his Olympic trials victory Sunday. “These four years just kind of flew by. I wouldn’t say it is redemption going back trying to get a medal. It is a different year. It’s a different competition. I’m a different athlete than I was four years ago. But I’ll definitely have that fourth place in the back of my mind going to Rio.”

The bulk of the Northwest-based qualifiers are first time Olympians, like 5000-meter runner Shelby Houlihan who trains in Portland.

“It feels like a dream right now,” she said. “It still hasn’t sunken in yet. I mean I’m so happy right now I can’t describe it.”

Devon Allen will join a contingent from the University of Oregon after finishing first in the 110-meter high hurdles. The junior, who also plays wide receiver for the Ducks, set a personal record time of 13.03 seconds.

Two other Oregon Duck sprinters, Deajah Stevens and Jenna Prandini, earned their invitation to Brazil next month with second and third place finishes in the women’s 200-meters.

None of the newly minted Olympians seem deterred by the various troubles besetting Summer Games host country Brazil.

Sports apparel giant Nike sponsors several professional training groups at its headquarters campus in Beaverton and another one in Eugene. All of them placed runners on this year’s Olympic team. Seattle-based Brooks Beasts Track Club also produced an Olympian.

The U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program also had its best showing ever at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. Part of this team of soldier-athletes has been based at the Nike headquarters campus since 2013.

USA Track and Field announced the ticketed attendance at Hayward Field for the 10-day duration of the Olympic trials as 176,972.

Tracktown USA President Vin Lananna predicted Sunday that the local organizing committee would “break even” on the staging of the 2016 Olympic trials. A few weeks ago, there were concerns the event would run a deficit.

Lananna credited local governments in the Eugene area for coming to the rescue with extra support.

U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team member with Northwest links:

  • Ben Blankenship (Trains with Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene) 1500m. First time Olympian. Finished third at U.S. trials.
  • Matthew Centrowitz (Portland; University of Oregon) 1500m. Finished fourth in 1500m at London Olympics. Finished first at U.S. trials.
  • Paul Chelimo (Beaverton) 5000m. First time Olympian. Finished third at U.S. trials.
  • Amy Hastings Cragg (Moved to Portland in 2015 to train with Nike Bowerman Track Club in Beaverton) Marathon. Won U.S. marathon trials in February.
  • Sam Crouser (Gresham, Oregon; University of Oregon) Javelin. First time Olympian. Met Olympic qualifying standard. 
  • Ryan Crouser (Boring, Oregon native) Shot put. First time Olympian. Finished first at U.S. trials. 
  • Ashton Eaton (Eugene; University of Oregon) Decathlon. 2012 gold medalist in decathlon. Finished first at U.S. trials.
  • Shalane Flanagan (Portland, Nike Bowerman Track Club) marathon. Finished third at U.S. marathon trials in February.
  • Phyllis Francis (University of Oregon) 400m. First time Olympian. Finished second at U.S. trials. 
  • English Gardner (University of Oregon); 100m. First time Olympian. Finished first at U.S. trials. 
  • Andrea Geubelle (University Place, Washington) Triple jump. First time Olympian. Finished third at U.S. trials. 
  • Cyrus Hostetler (University of Oregon and before that Newberg High School) Javelin. Second time Olympian. Finished first at U.S. trials. 
  • Shelby Houlihan (Trains with Bowerman Track Club in Portland) 5000m. First time Olympian. Finished second at U.S. trials.
  • Emily Infeld (Trains with Bowerman Track Club; 10,000m. First time Olympian. Finished second in 10,000m at U.S, trials. 
  • Evan Jager (Portland, Bowerman Track Club) 3000m steeplechase. Finished sixth at 2012 Olympics. Finished first at U.S. trials. 
  • Charles Jock (Trains with Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene) 800m. First time Olympian. Finished third at U.S. trials. 
  • Shadrack Kipchirchir (Beaverton) 10,000m. First time Olympian. Finished second in 10,000m at U.S. trials. 
  • Bernard Lagat (Washington State University) 5000m. Set to compete in his fifth Olympics. Finished first at U.S. trials.
  • Hassan Mead (Trains with Oregon Elite Track Club in Eugene) 5000m. First time Olympian. Finished second at U.S. trials.
  • Devon Allen (University of Oregon) 110m Hurdles. First time Olympian. Finished first at U.S. trials.
  • Jenna Prandini (University of Oregon) 200m. First time Olympian. Finished third at U.S. trials
  • Colleen Quigley (Trains in Beaverton with Nike Bowerman Track Club) 3000m steeplechase.First time Olympian. Finished third at U.S. trials. 
  • Shannon Rowbury: (Trains in Portland with Nike Oregon Project) 1500m. Competed at 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Finished second at U.S. trials.
  • Galen Rupp (Portland; University of Oregon) 10,000m & marathon. 2012 Olympic silver medalist. Finished first in 10,000m at U.S. trials. 
  • Deajah Stevens (University of Oregon) 200m. First time Olympian. Finished second at U.S. trials.
  • Jeremy Taiwo (Seattle; University of Washington) Decathlon. First time Olympian. Finished second at U.S. trials.
  • Ariana Washington (University of Oregon redshirt freshman) 4 x 100-meter relay. Finished sixth in 100m and fifth in 200m at U.S. trials, but later added to relay pool.
  • Kara Winger (Vancouver, Washington native; Skyview High School) Javelin. Competed at Olympics in 2008 and 2012. Finished third at U.S. trials.

Northwest-based runners competing in Rio Olympics for other nations:

  • Mohammed Ahmed (Trains with Bowerman Track Club in Beaverton) Will compete for Canada in 5000m & 10,000m.
  • Justine Fedronic (Seattle, Nike athlete) Will compete for France in 800m. 
  • Mo Farah (Trains part-time with Nike Oregon Project in Beaverton) Defending double gold medalist from United Kingdom in 5000m & 10,000m.
  • Suguru Osako (Trains with Nike Oregon Project in Beaverton) Will compete for Japan in 5000m. 
  • Alexi Pappas (Eugene; Oregon Track Club) Dual citizenship, will compete for Greece in 10,000m. 
  • Aisha Praught (Eugene; Oregon Track Club Elite) Will compete for Jamaica in 3000m steeplechase.
  • Betsy Saina (Portland; Nike Bowerman Track Club) Will compete for Kenya in 10,000m. 
  • Brianne Theisen-Eaton (Eugene; University of Oregon) 2012 Olympian. Will compete for Canada in heptathlon. 
  • Angela Whyte (Pullman; Washington State University assistant track and field coach) Will compete for Canada in 100m hurdles.
Former Oregon Duck Jenna Prandini, left, and sophmore U of O sprinter Deajah Stevens, right, punched their tickets to the Rio Games by finishing second and third, respectively, in the women's 200 meters.
Bradley W. Parks / OPB
Former Oregon Duck Jenna Prandini, left, and sophmore U of O sprinter Deajah Stevens, right, punched their tickets to the Rio Games by finishing second and third, respectively, in the women's 200 meters.
Portland runner Matthew Centrowitz sprints to the finish of the 1500-meter final Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials to secure his place in a second Olympic Games.
Bradley W. Parks / OPB
Portland runner Matthew Centrowitz sprints to the finish of the 1500-meter final Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials to secure his place in a second Olympic Games.
University of Oregon junior Devon Allen finished first in the 110-meter hurdles to secure a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.
Bradley W. Parks / OPB
University of Oregon junior Devon Allen finished first in the 110-meter hurdles to secure a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.
Double Olympic qualifier Molly Huddle, left, poses with 5000-meters runner up Shelby Houlihan of Portland, center, and third place finisher Kim Conley.
Bradley W. Parks / OPB
Double Olympic qualifier Molly Huddle, left, poses with 5000-meters runner up Shelby Houlihan of Portland, center, and third place finisher Kim Conley.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network