by Rob Moseley
The breakout star of Oregon's spring football practices, receiver Devon Allen, saw the tables turned Friday — it was Allen's turn to be star-struck, during the Oregon Twilight meet at Hayward Field.
Among the 16 alumni racing in the Ducks' final home meet of the regular season was Ashton Eaton, competing at Hayward for the first time since his world-record decathlon performance at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Eaton is taking a break from the multi events this year, and so was matched against the freshman Allen in the 110-meter hurdles Friday.
"It was a lot of fun," Allen said. "It's kind of cool just to say you ran against the world's greatest athlete. I wanted to get him, but second place to the world's greatest athlete isn't bad at all."
Eaton's winning time of 13.47 seconds, breaking his own meet record ahead of Allen in 13.77, was one of the more notable alumni performances from the Twilight. Amber Purvis won the women's 200 in 23.96, Brianne Theisen-Eaton took first in the high jump at 5 feet, 10 inches, Britney Henry threw the hammer 216-3, Kimber Mattox ran the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 10:00.44 and Cyrus Hostetler set a meet record in the javelin of 263-5.
Rainy, windy conditions put somewhat of a damper on the performances, but not the spirits of the alumni competing on familiar turf.
"Even though I practice here every day, it's still got a little bit of magic for us," Hostetler said. "I know that all the alumni probably really appreciate coming back and being able to compete here."
Eaton came to the track Friday with one eye looking ahead to the Prefontaine Classic on May 31, and one on results from the Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar, earlier in the day. His time of 13.47 would have been fourth in that field.
"I just wanted a smooth race, with a decent time for me," Eaton said. "Being the second race for me, I'm happy with it."
Allen was second, and ran the fifth-fastest time in UO history, despite being less than a week removed from Oregon's spring football game, as was 100-meter winner Dior Mathis. Running during some of the heaviest rainfall Friday night, and a steady headwind, Mathis clocked a time of 11.00.
"It was good," he said. "I got my legs back. I felt good out there running; my legs weren't as heavy, because of dealing with football. Coming out this week and just having straight track practice, I felt good."
The Ducks also got victories from Ben Thiel in the 400 hurdles (53.57); Jack Galpin in the 200 (21.55); Cullen Prena while competing unattached in the men's discus (161-9) and hammer (171-4); Laura Bobek in the women's discus (165-5); Ashante Horsley in the 400 (54.58); and Brittany Mann in the shot put (53-6 1/2).
Friday's meet was the last of the spring before the Ducks enter the championship season, beginning with next week's Pac-12 Championships hosted by Washington State. Thus are the UO men and women in the final stages of a heavy training period, which had 1,500 runners Annie Leblanc and Mac Fleet shrugging their shoulders at their times in the Twilight.
Leblanc finished in 4:18.05, second to Lauren Johnson of Nike OTC Elite.
"We've been training so, so hard that I showed up fatigued and tired, and I got the job done," Leblanc said. "I'm pretty happy about it."
Fleet took third in the men's race in 3:40.00, third-fastest among collegians this year. He was second behind pros Ben Blankenship (3:39.33) and UO alum Jordan McNamara (3:39.40).
"There's like a 10-percent chance you can really just pop one (given Oregon's training regimen at the moment), and it wasn't today," Fleet said. "It's a good time, but it's so far off what I think I can do physically."