Dual Meet Hall of Fame: Venue

On Sunday, I announced the creation of the College Dual Meet Hall of Fame. Yesterday saw the induction of a rivalry, USC versus UCLA.

Today we have the induction of a venue. It can only be Oregon’s Hayward Field.

No other stadium in the United States has seen more high-level dual meets than Hayward Field. It first hosted a meet in 1921 and has been in use ever since, making 2012 its 92nd season of competition.

Until the late 1980s, dual meets dominated the schedules of teams in the Pacific-10 Conference (and its forerunners, the Pac-8 and Pacific Coast Conference). Oregon’s annual rivalries were with Oregon State, Washington and Washington State, and there were always other foes as well. Fans could expect to see three or four home meets a year. That’s gone the way of the dodo most places, but not at Oregon.

1966 dual meet vs UCLA

It appears that there has never been a year at Hayward without a scored meet between Oregon and one or two or three other teams. The annual Pepsi Team Invitational, a four-way meet between Oregon, another Pacific northwest rival, and two other national powers, has kept it going. There was also a recent four-year revival of the series against UCLA, three of which were at Hayward, and that may be continued as well. And in the middle of next year’s sprawling multi-day Oregon Relays, the Arkansas Razorbacks will come into town for an old-fashioned 90-minute shootout with the Ducks.

It wasn’t just the schedule, either, but the attitude. Track and Field News managing editor Garry Hill, on being part of a visiting Washington State team in the late 60s:

Hayward Field was the only place where I ever competed in a dual meet and truly felt like I was an enemy of the people. The Duck fans were hard core back in the glory days of the head-to-heads.

Hill has a much longer story about his freshman experience of the Hayward crowd on the Hall of Fame page.

Former UCLA head coach Art Venegas, on the revival of the series in 2008:

I remember back in 1984 walking in the rain from the hotel to the track, and the Oregon fans were out there giving us the business. I remember thinking, ‘OK, this is cool. This is showtime.’

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Promo for the 2008 dual meet against UCLA

The fans turned out in big numbers, and still do. By my (very incomplete) count, crowds of 5,000 or more have come to see the Ducks in a dual/tri/quad meet on at least thirty-two occassions. Five times the total has topped 10,000, with the all-time record of 12,123 in 1979, when the Ducks and the Bruins met for the mythical national dual meet championship. This year’s turnout for the Pepsi Invitational was a healthy 5,402. There is no way to know for certain, but my research leads me to estimate that Hayward’s all-time total attendance for Duck dual meets is upwards of 700,000.

The Hall of Fame page dedicated to Hayward Field is not only intended to honor the stadium, but to be a collecting point for items related to college dual meets held there. If you have anything you might want to add, send it along.

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