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The Top Pre Classic Moments - 1980s

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 - 1980s
(in chronological order)


1980 Men’s 3000m Steeplechase – Henry Marsh broke his own meet record by over 5 seconds in 8:23.5, winning by over 6 seconds.


1980 Men’s Javelin Throw – Bob Roggy set the meet record 284-11 (86.84) in beating Duncan Atwood (280-0/85.34) and defending champ Rod Ewaliko (267-8/81.58).


1981 Men’s 1500 – Tom Byers, an Oregon alum, blasted a 55.9y last lap to beat Craig Masback and John Walker of New Zealand.  Byers won in a meet-record 3:36.35.


1981 Men’s 3000m Steeplechase – Amos Korir ran a world-leading and meet-record 8:18.57 in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.  In 2nd, Ken Martin also betters the meet record and runs the fastest US time of the year, 8:21.52.


1981 Men’s 5000 – Matt Centrowitz destroyed a loaded field, breaking the meet record by over 3 seconds in winning the event for third time (13:27.06).


1981 Men’s Hammer Throw – Peter Farmer and Dave McKenzie combine for 10 heaves over the meet record.  Farmer won by an inch, 233-2 to 233-1 (71.08 to 71.04).


1981 Women’s 800 – Leann Warren, an Oregon soph, is the first to win a Pre Classic event three years in a row.  Starting as a prep in ’79, she set a meet record each time, now lowering it to 2:00.47.


1981 Women’s 1500 – Cathie Twomey defended her title, breaking the meet record by over 3 seconds in 4:11.96, a PR by nearly 6 seconds.  Joan Hansen, Maggie Keyes, and Regina Joyce also broke the previous meet record.


1981 Women’s High Jump – Louise Ritter edged Issaquah (Wa) prep Mary Moore, as both cleared a meet-record 6-1 (1.85).  Three-time defending champ Joni Huntley was 3rd, matching her old meet record of 6-0.


1981 Women’s Javelin Throw – Karin Smith smashed the meet record by over 30 feet in becoming the first to go over 200 feet at 205-7 (62.66).


1982 Men’s 800 – A pair of American legends in their early years, Steve Scott and Johnny Gray, battled at Gray’s distance.  Scott beat Gray 1:46.64 to 1:46.97.


1982 Men’s 5000 – Matt Centrowitz set a stunning American record of 13:12.91, leading three others to demolish the previous meet record, led by fellow ex-Oregon athlete Alberto Salazar, who set a PR 13:15.71 in second.  It was Centrowitz’ fourth win in the Pre 5k – at the time the most ever by one athlete in a single event.


1982 Men’s Discus Throw – John Powell and Mac Wilkins waged one of their best duels, Powell winning 213-9 (65.16) to 213-5 (65.06).  In a separate exhibition, American record holder Ben Plucknett threw 210-0 (64.02).


1982 Men’s Javelin Throw – Bob Roggy won his third Pre title in as many years, this time unleashing the 2nd-longest throw in U.S. history with his meet-record 302-5 (92.18).  That effort came on his final effort; his first of 300-5 (91.56) smashed the meet record by over 15 feet.  He became only the third man in the world to ever have a pair of 300-footers in the same series.  In second, also over the previous meet record, was Tom Petranoff (PR 287-9 / 87.70).


1982 Women’s 5000 – Mary Slaney ran one of her most memorable races, taking full control after 2M to shatter the world record by almost five seconds, clocking 15:08.26.  She won by over 10 seconds, as former world record holder Paula Fudge ran 15:19.63.


1982 Women’s High Jump – Debbie Brill raised the meet record by four inches to 6-5 (1.95).  In 2nd, Kansas prep Kym Carter also betters the meet record at 6-2 (1.88), just shy of her own national prep record 6-2¼ (1.89) set earlier in the year.


1983 Men’s 3000m Steeplechase – Henry Marsh ran a world-leading 8:22.15, his fastest yet of his four Pre Classic wins.  So far.


1983 Men’s 5000 – Eamonn Coghlan made his Pre Classic debut a memorable one.  The world champ to be in Helsinki in August, Coghlan blistered a last 440 of 52.6 to hold off Doug Padilla in a world-leading 13:23.53.  Padilla ran 13:24.02, an outdoor PR.


1983 Men’s Pole Vault – Earl Bell won for the third time, equaling the meet record of 18-0½ (5.50) set by Dave Roberts in 1976 and equaled by Bell in 1979.  Runner-up Tom Hintnaus, still an American at the time, also equaled the meet record.


1983 Men’s Discus Throw – Ben Plucknett broke the meet record twice, first at 233-3 (71.10) in round 5, then a final-round 234-0 (71.32), the farthest ever on American soil.  Those marks were the 3rd- and 4th-longest in world history, and the 233-3 was the best “backup” mark yet recorded.


1983 Men’s Hammer Throw – Ed Burke twice broke the meet record, first with a 236-10 (72.18) in round 5, then a final-round 238-6 (72.70).  In second, Matt Mileham bettered the previous meet record at 235-4 (71.74).  Dave McKenzie (231-7/70.58) and John McArdle (231-0/70.42) also surpassed 230 feet.


1983 Men’s Javelin Throw – Tom Petranoff tossed a pair of 300-footers, first with a 301-10 (92.00) in round 3, then a meet-record 307-6 (93.68) in round 4.  Former meet record holders Rod Ewaliko (286-3/87.26) and Bob Roggy (274-5/83.64) followed.


1983 Women’s Discus Throw – Lorna Griffin became the meet’s first 6-time champion, sweeping the shot and discus.  Her discus featured all six efforts over the meet record, topped by her 203-2 (61.92) in round 3.  Kathy Picknell also bettered the previous meet record at 190-10 (58.16).  It was Griffin’s fourth win in the discus, but she also won the shot at 56-6 (17.22).


1984 Men’s 1000 – Joaquim Cruz warmed up for the LA Olympics with the world’s 5th fastest time ever, 2:14.54.  In 2nd, Jim Spivey became the 5th fastest American ever at 2:16.54.


1984 Men’s 10,000 – Mark Nenow edged Simeon Kigen by 0.19 seconds in winning in 27:57.49.  Alberto Salazar gave the meet its first with three sub-28 by finishing in 27:58.25.


1984 Men’s High Jump – First, Zhu Jianhua equaled Dwight Stones’s meet record at 7-3.5, then raised it three times, eventually to 7-7.75 (2.33).  American Jimmy Howard matched suit until the winning height, finishing at 7-6.5 (2.30).


1984 Men’s Pole Vault – Mike Tully broke his own American record set at the Olympic Trials by clearing 19-1 (5.82).


1984 Men’s Discus Throw – Art Burns threw 232-10 (70.98), the 2nd best in meet (and 8th best in American) history to beat a loaded field that includes meet record holder Mac Wilkins.


1984 Men’s Hammer Throw – Dave McKenzie became America’s No. 2 ever at 246-0 (74.98), leading a trio of throwers with a total of five efforts over the previous meet record, plus another just 2 inches short.  Bill Green was 2nd at 243-11 (74.34/36) and Jud Logan was 3rd at 240-10 (73.40/42).


1984 Women’s 1500 – Francie Larrieu won the 1500/mile for the 3rd time, and again in a meet record.  Her 4:07.28 led a total of six under the old meet record.


1985 Men’s 3000m Steeplechase – Henry Marsh beat Brian Diemer to win his fifth Pre Classic, the most ever at the time.  His 8:20.50 was a world-leading mark and the meet’s 2nd-best at the time.


1985 Men’s 5000 – In a fast race, Sydney Maree’s kick was a couple of feet better than Doug Padilla’s, 13:20.48 to 13:20.67.  It would be Padilla’s only loss of the year, and he would later win the inaugural IAAF/Mobil Grand Prix overall men’s title.


1985 Men’s Pole Vault – Mike Tully won his third Pre Classic in the rain, outdueling 1984 Olympic gold medalist Pierre Quinon to win at 19-0¼ (5.80).  Tully even had close miss at an American record 19-2¾ (5.86).


1985 Women’s 100 – Merlene Ottey made her first Pre Classic appearance a dominating one, winning in wet conditions by nearly half a second in 11.14.


1985 Women’s 800 – Jarmila Kratochvilova lowered the meet record by over 2 seconds in 1:58.01, winning by over 4 seconds as she led the entire race.


1985 Women’s 5000 – Mary Slaney lowered her American record to 15:06.53, running by herself in the rain the last half of the race to win by 12+ seconds.  Second was Cindy Bremser, who hung with Slaney the first half, leading an onslaught on the record books as she PRed in 15:19.50 (2nd-fastest American ever) and Lynn Williams followed in a Canadian record 15:20.03.  Places 3-9 ran the fastest-ever for those positions, and the race produced 6 of the top 8 Americans ever.


1986 Men’s 100 – Carl Lewis defeated world record holder Calvin Smith soundly, 10.08 to 10.21, as both dipped under the previous meet record.


1986 Men’s 3000m Steeplechase – Graeme Fell out-kicked 5-time winner Henry Marsh in a world-leading 8:20.34, the 2nd-fastest ever at Pre.  Marsh was a couple of whiskers behind at 8:20.60, just a tenth off his best at the Pre Classic.


1986 Men’s 5000 – Paul Bitok used a 54.7 last lap to destroy the meet record in 13:08.29.  Also under the previous meet record were 20-year-old Daniel Komen of Kenya (13:10.14) and American Bob Kennedy (13:12.14)


1986 Men’s 110m Hurdles – Greg Foster and Tonie Campbell both bettered the meet record, with Foster’s 13.32 beating Campbell’s 13.39.  Unfortunately, reigning Olympic gold medalist Roger Kingdom did not finish after crashing the first barrier and falling.


1986 Women’s 3000 – Sonia O’Sullivan broke Mary Slaney’s meet record with the Pre Classic’s first sub-8:40 finish.  Her 8:39.33 led an amazing leader board that included Amy Rudolph, Libbie Johnson, Lynn Jennings, and Slaney herself.


1987 Men’s 5000 – Doug Padilla and miler Steve Scott waged battle down the homestretch, but Padilla’s kick was the better on this windy day as his 13:30.20 bettered Scott’s 8-second PR or 13:30.39.


1988 Men’s Pole Vault – Kory Tarpenning raised the meet record by over an inch to 19-2¼ (5.85), 2 bars and some 8 inches better than fellow Olympic Team member Earl Bell.


1989 Men’s 3000 – In what was supposed to be a world-record attempt for steeple great Julius Kariuki, strong winds helped to bring a much slower pace.  At the end, Doug Padilla used his vaunted kick to outduel Abdi Bile, reigning World Champion at 1500, 7:51.94 to 7:52.23.  Kariuki was 14th in 8:20.7.


1989 Men’s Hammer Throw – Lance Deal launched all five of his fair throws over the meet record, topped by a 257-0 (78.34) that made him America’s 3rd best ever.


1989 Men’s Discus Throw – Wolfgang Schmidt, newly free as a West German, made sure his stop in Eugene was memorable.  His winning effort of 222-7 (67.84) was the farthest of his first U.S. tour, surpassing his efforts in Walnut, Modesto, and San Jose.  A decade earlier, Schmidt set the world record at 233-5 (71.16) as an East German in Berlin – that mark bettered Mac Wilkins’ 232-6 (70.86) global best.  While Wilkins beamed from the sidelines, Cuba’s Luis Delis also made a Eugene debut at 219-7 (66.92) for 2nd.


1989 Women’s 400 – Ana Quirot was the most awe-inspiring of a handful of Cuban athletes competing in Eugene for the first time.  Battling strong winds, she ran boldly by herself to shatter the meet record in 50.14, winning by over 2 seconds over Rochelle Stevens, who would rank as the year’s top American and 4th best in the world.  Quirot finished the year undefeated in the 400 and 800 and a near-unanimous pick by Track & Field News as the Women’s Athlete of the Year.


1989 Women’s 3000 – Lynn Williams battled a stiff wind and the world’s best marathoner, Ingrid Kristiansen, to run 8:47.92, the meet’s fastest since Mary Slaney’s 1983 meet record of 8:42.38.  Williams, the runner-up in that ’83 race, had a larger margin of victory here at 11+ seconds (Mary won by 10+ seconds in ’83).

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