During the Oregon Relays / Arkansas Dual, I got an inkling of the true meaning and experience of Hayward Field. What is so incredible is its ability to unify all – from the average fan to the Olympic athlete. Unlike Autzen or PK Park where there’s a deliberate barrier between fans and athletes, at the south end of Hayward one can literally rub shoulders with champions. It’s a monument to the human race, where fierce rivalries take a back seat to communal celebration and athletic success, and the spirit of camaraderie and competition happily co-exist.
The Oregon Twilight this weekend marks the final time we’ll see our Ducks – both men and women – compete at Historic Hayward Field until the NCAA Championships in June. Although both squads have been doing exceptionally well this year, and despite just having won ”Wagon Wheels” at the Penn Relays, neither has won its last home meet – and if the championship match is in your house, you want to have a solid record and confidence at home.
This weekend, then, carries with it greater significance than simply being the last regular season home meet. If the Ducks compete well this weekend, both squads will have the wind in their sails (or in this case at their backs) when June arrives. A few breakthrough performances will serve as a reference point for success at home and build confidence for the championship meet. Don’t read too much into the men’s second-place finish to Arkansas or the women’s second place finish to Texas A & M. Track and field is about peaking at the right time and the Ducks are right on course.