At Hayward Field on Friday, professional American track and field athletes will represent the cities of Portland, Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco at the inaugural TrackTown Summer Series meet.
This is the first meet of its kind, and though there will only be one meet this year, the non-profit TrackTown USA plans for there to be many more in the years to come. The purpose of the league is to provide American athletes with the chance to compete in the United States during the summer, as opposed to travelling to Europe as athletes have routinely done in the past while competing on the Diamond League circuit. The meet is also meant to garner interest in the sport of track and field in America, as it will be broadcasted by ESPN.
The TrackTown Summer Series will be a more viewer-friendly event, with only ten events squeezed into about 2 hours. The only throwing event that will be taking place is the shot put, making this meet much shorter and therefore, easier for the average viewer to follow. While neither is listed under the four teams, current Oregon standout Devon Allen and former Duck Johnathon Cabral will each compete in the 110-meter hurdles.
Here are the top male and female athlete on each of the four teams:
Will Claye – Triple Jump
During his Olympic debut at the 2012 London Olympics, Claye competed in both the long jump and the triple jump, winning bronze in the long and silver in the triple. He recently made his second Olympic team when he won the triple jump in the trials earlier this month. He has a personal-best of of 58 feet, 3 inches.
Kate Grace – 1,500m
Though she made the Olympic team for the 800-meter after winning a mayhem-filled final that featured Alysia Montano falling over Brenda Martinez, she’ll be competing in the 1,500 for this meet. During her time at Yale University, Grace was a four-time NCAA Division I Track and Field and Cross Country All-American and has a personal record of 4 minutes, 5.65 seconds in the 1,500.
Current and former Oregon athletes: Mike Berry – 400m, Jordan McNamara – 800m, Jordan Hasay – 4-mile Road Race, and Luke Puskedra – 4-mile Road Race.
Ben Blankenship – 1,500m
By finishing third in the 1,500-meter at the Olympic trials, Blankenship secured his spot on his first Olympic team. He matched his personal record of 3:35.48 when he took fourth in the Shanghai Diamond League event, the best Diamond League finish by an American man in a 1,500/mile race since Leo Manzano in July 2013. Blankenship is a member of Oregon Track Club Elite.
Brenda Martinez – 800m
Martinez made her first Olympic team earlier this year for the 1,500 meter after failing to make the team in the 800 meter due to a trip up with Montano, despite the fact that the two of them were heavy favorites. Her personal record is 1:57.91.
Oregon athletes: Phyllis Francis – 400m, Mandy White – 100m, Jasmine Todd – Long Jump, and Melissa Gergel – Pole Vault.
Erik Kynard – High Jump
In his Olympic debut at the 2012 London Games, Kynard won the silver medal as a 21 year old. This year, he placed first in the high jump at the trials to reach his second Olympic team. His personal record of 7 feet, 9¼ inches was the fourth best in the world for 2013.
Shannon Rowbury – 1,500m
Rowbury is the current American record holder for the 1,500-meter with a time of 3:56.29. She broke Mary Slaney’s 32-year record when she ran the time in Monaco in 2015. She represented the United States in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and placed seventh in 2008 — which was the best finish by an American female in that event at the time. She improved that to sixth in the 2012 Olympics, the best finish ever by an American female.
Oregon athletes: Colby Alexander – 1,500m
Aries Merritt – 110m Hurdles
Merritt is the current world record holder in the 110 hurdles with a time of 12.80 seconds, set in 2012. That same year, he won the gold medal in the event at the London Olympics. He missed out on the Olympic team this year, perhaps due to the fact that he is still recovering from a kidney transplant he underwent in 2015.
Brittney Reese – Long Jump
Reese is the indoor American record holder in the long jump at 23-8¾, the third best distance all time. Her outdoor personal record of 23-11¾ is ninth all time. At the 2012 London Olympics, she won the gold medal. She is also a six-time world champion, winning the indoor championship and outdoor championship three times each.
Oregon athletes: Matthew Centrowitz – 800m, Johnny Gregorek – 1,500m, Eric Jenkins – 1,500m, and Megan Patrignelli – 4-mile Road Race
The meet will begin at 5:15 p.m. with the four-mile Road Race around the University of Oregon campus, while traditional events will start at 6:30 with the women’s 400-meter.