by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Madras senior Cheyenne Duncan undergoes a performance test at the Bowerman Sports Science Center in Eugene during a recent visit by MHS track athletes. Madras track athletes visit Bowerman Sports Science Center

The University of Oregon is one of the world epicenters of track and field. Historic Hayward Field, along with the legacies of Alberto Salazar, Bill Bowerman, Steve Prefontaine, Galen Rupp and many other track icons are just part of what makes the atmosphere in Eugene unlike any other.

Another piece of that is the commitment to the sport of track and field as a whole, and not exclusive to the University’s prestigious and dominant programs.

Some Madras High School track athletes got to see what that was all about firsthand.

On Jan. 27, a group of White Buffalo tracksters went to the Bowerman Sports Science Center on the University of Oregon campus with coaches Jon and Melissa Bowerman.

The center, named for Jon’s father, legendary Oregon track coach (and Nike co-founder) Bill Bowerman, is used to test athletic performance and provide training data for athletes. The human physiology department runs and staffs the center, and works with both amateur and professional athletes to help them maximize performance in training and competition.

“We were very fortunate to have an amazing opportunity to bring some athletes to the center,” Melissa Bowerman said. “I am sure they are going to soon have a waiting list of athletes to be tested there.”

The MHS athletes that underwent some testing were Taylor Welsh, Cheyenne Duncan, Ian Goodwin and Maddie Molitor. Bowerman said they did tests that helped the doctors evaluate their running form, leg and hip strength, flexibility, range of motion, speed, running stride and foot placement during a run.

Bowerman said the athletes had injury problems in the past, from shin splints to knee ailments, and part of doing the tests was to help find a way to avoid those for the upcoming spring track and field season.

The building’s namesake, Bill Bowerman, dedicated a lot of his life to bringing science and athletic performance to a crossroad — a place where science could lead to discoveries about the human body, and then apply to track to make good athletes great.

In fact, Jon Bowerman himself said the portion of the building the center is located in was to be used for any kind of academics that could benefit track athletes.

Michael Hahn, Ph.D, the center’s director and assistant professor of human physiology at Oregon, leads a staff of fellow doctors and graduate students and is committed to helping further Bill Bowerman’s idea of uniting science and sport.

"That's really still our vision here,” Hahn said. “To bring science into lockstep with the sport, and work with the athletes and coaches and athletic trainers to make sure there are no drops between the understanding of science and sport.”

The center started out working with members of the professional Oregon Track Club Elite, but now they are working with athletes all over the skill spectrum.

While the test results will take a little while to come back, the main focus for Melissa Bowerman will be how to apply them to the athletes’ training regimen. While the Buffs won’t have a home track to run on at the high school this season, since the new one will be under construction in the spring, this is just a small step in bringing the MHS track program to state relevance.

Perhaps the biggest thrill for the Madras athletes, Melissa said, was to go underneath the grandstands at Hayward Field and see the immaculate indoor training facility used by Oregon and OTC Elite. It was there they met 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, Bend’s Ashton Eaton.

Before the Monday visit to the center, four MHS pole vaulters attended a symposium in Springfield. Gregg Vineyard, Issac Fisher, Miklo Hernandez and Duncan received instruction from collegiate-level coaches. Melissa said all of them benefitted from the time and experience with the coaches, and it should help them this spring on the track.

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