Hayward Field, located on the campus of the University of Oregon, needs no introduction. The place is a track mecca, and a magical place to run.
What better location for a national championship meet.
And magical it was, as all the athletes felt the power of the home stretch as they closed in on victory and the fast times that would net the necessary points to lead their teams to victory. The top two teams for both boys and girls were fighting for the national title and for a trophy bearing the likeness of the Hayward grandstands.
For Chandler, the newly minted powerhouse from Arizona, the magic was on the infield. The all-underclassmen squad dominated the field events, winning all 5 of 'em! Their total of 7721.65 was enough to edge out the win. (Photo by Margot Kelly)
See Chandlers Celebration here.
Hannah Carson, the stand-out javelin star, started things off with a victory in the discus. "It's very supportive in (Hayward Field), I liked it a lot". Carson also won the shot put competition.
Cadija Harris took the win in the high jump, worth 900 points. "This is the biggest stage we've been on all season, so for us to do what we did here, I'm really proud of us".
Jasmine Todd won the long jump and gave Chandler the points they needed to keep ahead going into the Mile, the event they chose not to compete in.
Perhaps the coolest part of the meet was during the Miles, when the crowd was invited to come down out of the stands to stand on the track to cheer on the milers.
Columbia had a miler, but she didn't get enough points to overcome Chandler's lead.
As for Todd, she's already looking ahead to next year, "We're all excited to hopefully come back next year". Haley Bowser rounded out the scoring with a win in the pole vault.
Columbia, NJ, quietly stalked Chandler throughout the meet but had to settle for 2nd with 7528.17 points.
Brittney Jackson gave a big boost to her team with a 2nd place effort in the 800 with a time of 2:11.12. Ty-Vonna Johnson also pulled in some big points in the 400 with a time of 55.42, also good for 2nd.
Western Branch, VA, rounded out the top-3 with 7427.85 points.
The boys competition wasn't quite as uncertain, with Vista Murietta, CA, holding a large lead coming into the Mile run, but it still wasn't without it's drama, as Brookwood, GA, had an ace miler in Tyler Anyan. (Photo by Margot Kelly)
See Vista Murietta's Celebration here.
The race came down to a kick between Elias Gedyon, Blake Ahrold, and Tyler Anyan. Anyan was able to kick down the stretch and win with a time of 4:12.76, pulling Brookwood into 2nd with 7525.85 points.
But it was Vista Murietta who came out on top with 7797.18 points off of the strength of their sprint duo. Bernard Quinn got out quick in the 400 and blasted a 48.49 to score 899.48 points.
"Even though the stands weren't full, it feels like they were, that's how loud they were cheering us on", remarked a breathless Quinn after his race.
Jovonte Slater was 2nd in the long jump to garner 947.17 big points. He then came back in a big way to win the 100 dash in 10.56 to earn 964.29 points.
Slater clapped his hands and jumped up and down after he saw his time, a big smile crossing his face.
"I still can't get over the fact that I won the 100 meter dash at Hayward Field. That sentence alone just shows how much honor and pride I got right now, just to do that and help my team".
Brookwood, GA, had athletes come up big in the sprints as well. Keenan Harp finished 3rd in the 100 with a time of 10.76 to score 964.29 points. Robert Edwards was also 3rd, in the 110 Hurdles with a time of 14.48 for 913.43 points.
Spring, TX, finished 3rd with 7394.45 points behind the effort of David Johnson, who won the 110 Hurdles with a time of 14.24.
The Nike Track Nationals crowned two deserving programs, both of which belong at the top of the national standings. The scoring may have been hard to adjust to, but the idea was proven, as each team had to rely on all of their athletes to score enough points to take home the titles, and the Hayward trophies.