10 Northwest Athletes To Watch At The 2016 U.S. Olympic Track And Field Team Trials
The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials start Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Among the more than 1,000 elite athletes aiming for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team and a ticket to the Rio Games in August are dozens of men and women who train in the Northwest.
Here's a look at 10 names to watch:
Galen Rupp (5000m and 10,000m) -- The 30-year-old Portland native who trains under Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar has already qualified for the Rio Games by winning the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February. Now he is a favorite to make the team in two other distance events, which would lead to some hard choices later because he can potentially "double" at the Summer Games but not do three events. Rupp won the silver medal in the 10,000 meters at the 2012 London Olympics.
Nick Symmonds (Scratched from 800m) -- The Boise-raised, former Springfield/Eugene runner now trains with the Brooks Beasts Track Club in Seattle. A nagging ankle injury forced Symmonds to withdraw on Thursday. Regardless, the outspoken runner will show up in Eugene because he is looking for allies at the Olympic trials to join him to demonstrate for greater revenue sharing of event sponsorship receipts with athletes.
Ashton Eaton (decathlon) -- The defending Olympic gold medalist is looking for a repeat in Rio. But first he has to qualify for the 2016 team like everyone else. Ashton and his wife Brianne Theisen-Eaton have a decent shot to become America's golden couple of track and field. The experts at Track & Field News predict both of them will bring home gold from Rio in the decathlon and heptathlon, respectively. One fun twist is that Ashton competes for Team USA while Brianne represents her native Canada, although the couple has long resided together in Eugene.
Evan Jager (3000m steeplechase) -- If there is another lock to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team beside Eaton, it would have to be Jager. The transplanted Portland runner posted a qualifying time nearly 13 seconds ahead of the next fastest American, practically an eternity at the elite level. In Rio, Jager - the American record holder - will look to break the stranglehold on the men's Olympic steeplechase podium held by East African runners for several decades.
Ariana Washington (100m and 200m) -- The University of Oregon redshirt freshman hopes to follow up her very successful NCAA outdoor season (national sprint champion twice over) -- with an Olympic Team nomination. Washington was an eight-time California high school state champion before becoming an Oregon Duck.
Devon Allen (110m hurdles) -- Allen has already made a name for himself as a wide receiver for the University of Oregon football team, even played in the 2015 Rose Bowl. But now football is on the back burner as the college junior tries to add Olympian to his resume. Allen is a two-time NCAA outdoor champion in the high hurdles and also captured the 2016 NCAA indoor national championship in the 60-meter hurdles.
Andrea Geubelle (triple jump) -- Some track and field athletes make it to the Olympics with generous sponsor support, but more often they labor in relative obscurity like Geubelle of University Place near Tacoma. Geubelle won the triple jump at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and was a three-time NCAA champion. She worked full-time for the Tacoma School District while training for the upcoming Olympics.
Matthew Centrowitz (1500m) -- Centrowitz is currently America's best miler. He competed at the 2012 Summer Games in London, where he finished fourth, missing out on the bronze medal by .04 seconds. The Nike Oregon Project runner from Eugene is looking for a better result in Rio and has a silver medal from the 2013 IAAF World Championships to provide confidence. If he punches his ticket to Rio, Centrowitz will equal his father, who was a two-time Olympian.
Shannon Rowbury (1500m) -- The Nike Oregon Project runner coached by Alberto Salazar is the current American record holder in the 1500 meters. She competed in that event at two past Olympics, finishing in fifth place at the 2012 London Games and seventh in Beijing in 2008. This winter, Rowbury claimed first place in the 3000 meters at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships, contested in her adopted hometown of Portland.
Emily Infeld (10,000m) -- Infeld joined the Bowerman Track Club on the Nike campus in Beaverton in 2012. The 26-year-old is showing promise to become a force in American distance running. Infeld narrowly beat fellow American runner Molly Huddle to grab a surprise bronze medal at the 2015 World Outdoor Championships in Beijing.