EUGENE, Ore. -- Marshfield High (Coos Bay) won three field events on Day 2 of the Oregon 4A-5A-6A state championships here at the University of Oregon. You could hear the significance echo across Hayward Field.
When Greg Eckes won the boys’ 5A pole vault on a cool Friday afternoon here, at 15-5, it put the Pirates into the team lead in the scoring, with 31 points. It was a meet record, by 1 inch.
Marshfield has never won the boys’ team state championship. The closest it has come is 2nd place, in 1968, Steve Prefontaine’s senior year there. “Pre,” of course, went on to run for the Oregon Ducks before dying a short distance from Hayward Field in a car crash in 1975.
Marshfield girls won two events, the high jump, by Alison Worthen (5-6), and the pole vault, by Morian Roberge (11-9), to put them in contention in the girls’ scoring as well, although Summit remains the favorite in that division.
It is a seminal moment for the Worthen family, for Alison is the coach’s daughter, and in fact is the last of Coach Fran Worthen’s five daughters. (Alison’s victory today was her third straight state title in the high jump. Alison, a senior, also qualified for the hurdle final tomorrow.)
Two of Alison’s sisters have also won Oregon state championships, yet the three girls fall short of their legendary mother’s total, for Fran Worthen, when she was Fran Auer Sichting, won 10 state championships for Marshfield High between 1969 and 1972, in the long jump, sprints, and medley relay.
(Auer Sichting went on to run as a member of the men’s team at Southwestern Oregon Junior College and ran on the American 4x1 team against the Soviet Union in 1974. She was also AAU national champion in the 220 that year.)
The Marshfield girls’ team has won two state championships – in 2005, with Worthen as coach, and in 1972, her senior year at the school, when she was the star of the team.
(Worthen’s oldest daughter, Nikki Sichting, was state long jump champion in 1994. Allison’s older sister Leah, now a hurdler at the University of Oregon, was state 400 champion in 2004-5. Her other daughters, Kelly and Marci, have also competed in track and field. “Alison is my last one,” Fran Worthen said. “It means I get to retire.”)
Crouser wins shot put
The Worthens are not the only family here with deep roots in Oregon track. Ryan Crouser, a ninth-grader at Barlow, started what could become another stage of Crouser legend, when he won the 6A shot put at 60-2, his first time over 60 feet and breaking his own state record for freshmen.
“I knew when I threw that one, that it was a good one,” said Crouser, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound 15-year-old. His 2nd put was the winner; he also had three other puts beyond 59 feet. “I only have six throws, so I wanted to make every throw count.
“Next, I’m looking for 62. The 60-footer wasn’t perfect. I know that there’s more there.”
Ryan’s father, Mitch Crouser, and his two uncles, Dean and Brian Crouser, were all Oregon state champions and, in varying throwing events, national champions in the shot put, discus, javelin or hammer. Their father – Ryan’s grandfather, Larry Crouser -- was military champion in the javelin.
“My uncle called me yesterday and gave me encouragement.” That was Uncle Brian, the only one of the brothers to have won all three throws – shot, disc, jav – in high school.
On Saturday, Ryan will contest the discus and must face his own cousin, Sam Crouser. Sam, a sophomore, won the javelin on Thursday for Gresham; he is Dean Crouser’s son.
“I threw the discus twice against Sam this season,” Ryan said, “and beat him both times.” The Crouser family tradition writes another chapter.
Reporting by Jack Pfeifer, photography by Kim Spir