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The Top Pre Classic Moments - 1970s

In honor of the 40th running of the Prefontaine Classic, a panel of track and field aficionados generated a ranking of the Top 40 Moments in Pre Classic history. The Top 40 Moments are more than a collection of the best athletes to compete at the Pre Classic; these moments are about competition, breaking historical records, and excitement! These are the moments that we remember as the best of the Pre Classic in its first 40 years.

The Top 40 Moments will be available in the 2014 Pre Classic program (and listed in full on PreClassic.com after the meet). Below are all the nominated moments from which the Top 40 were selected, in chronological order.

Top Pre Classic Moments - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s - 2000s - 2010s - Top 40 All-time

 

The Top Pre Classic Moments - 1970s
(in chronological order)

 

1975 Men’s 220 Yards – In the inaugural Pre Classic, Don Quarrie and Steve Williams waged an epic battle and both ran a WR 19.9, with Quarrie the winner.  It would be the last IAAF-ratified record at the yard distance.  Earlier in the meet, the two dueled in the 100y, with Williams edging Quarrie, 9.1 to 9.2.

 

1975 Men’s 3-Mile – Frank Shorter won the first edition of Steve Prefontaine’s signature event in 13:00.8, his second fastest ever.  During his victory lap, the friend and rival of Pre stopped during his victory lap and ventured to Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Prefontaine and embraced both.  “I tried to run the last mile like him, but it wasn’t the same,” Shorter told an Oregon Track Club official.

 

1975 Women’s 3000 – Francie Larrieu won in 9:08.8 and doubled back to claim the mile in 4:46.2, becoming the first athlete to win two events, doing it in the same meet.  She was already an Olympian at 22.

 

1976 Men’s 100 – Johnny Jones, a prepster, showed amazing ability in under an hour and a half.  After travelling from Lampasas, Texas, he clocked a 10.44w victory in the 100.  Less than hour later, he lined up in the 400 with Olympians Maxie Parks and Dave Jenkins, finishing a respectable third (46.16).  Just 30 minutes later, he was part of a photo-finish 200, finishing third (21.14).  No other athlete has competed as well in any three events at the same Pre Classic.

 

1976 Men’s 1500 – Mark Feig, an Oregon alum, won in a PR 3:38.1, winning by 3 seconds with a last lap of 54.7.

 

1976 Men’s 5000 – Paul Geis, a former teammate and rival of Pre, trounced a fast field in 13:30.8.  Winning by over 2 seconds, he led five others under 13:40, and a total of 12 under 13:50.

 

1976 Men’s Shot – Pete Shmock, an Oregon alum, successfully defended his title and extended his PR by over a foot to 69-3 (21.11), beating Olympians Al Feuerbach (68-10¾/21.00) and Mac Wilkins (67-8¾/20.64, an outdoor PR).

 

1976 Men’s Discus – Mac Wilkins, an Oregon alum on pace to the best discus season ever, broke the meet record of 212-0 on all four of his four fair throws, topped at 220-11 (67.34).

 

1977 Men’s Mile – Steve Scott ran the first sub-4 mile at Pre, leading three others under that barrier in winning at 3:57.9.

 

1978 Men’s Discus – Mac Wilkins launched the world’s 2nd-best ever discus throw of 231-3 (70.48).

 

1979 Men’s 3000m Steeplechase – Henry Marsh set a meet record 8:28.84.  In 8th place, Jeff Hess of South Eugene HS set a national prep record 8:50.1 that still stands.

 

1979 Men’s Discus – Knut Hjeltnes, a Norwegian training in the California Bay Area, waged a duel with not only Mac Wilkins, but Ken Stadel and Ben Plucknett as well.  Hjeltnes threw 217-1 (66.16), a mark bettered only by Wilkins at Pre (Hayward also?).  Wilkins, only 5” behind at 216-8 (66.06), was closely followed by Stadel (215-10 / 65.78) and Plucknett (214-1 / 65.26, a PR and the best 4th-place ever at the time).

 

1979 Men’s Javelin – Rod Ewaliko defended his title and demolished the meet record with a heave of 281-9 (85.88).

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