Oregon's best high school track and field athletes have long brought their best to Hayward Field.
That's been true at the annual state track and field meets, but with those events shelved this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon's best took their best shots at the Outdoor Nationals, Presented by Nike, held June 30-July 3 at Hayward Field in Eugene.
And this year, no one brought it better than Oregon City long jumper Sophia Beckmon.
Beckmon, an incoming junior at Oregon City High School, became the first Oregon girl in history to win a national outdoor long jump championship when she soared 19 feet, 10.25 inches at the Outdoor Nationals. She also set a new all-time Oregon record for the long jump, eclipsing the previous mark of 19-10 set by Michelle Reynolds of Churchill back in 1987.
Interviewed by RunnerSpace.com following her victory, Beckmon said she still couldn't quite believe her success.
"I can't put it into words, to be honest. … You can tell it's more of a gift," she said. "Coming from Oregon, you have a ton of athletes who are good at competing, but there are a few that just are amazing and I'm happy to be one of them."
To accomplish her feat at the new Hayward Field — it reopened in 2021 after a two-year remodeling process and a 15-month delay caused by the pandemic — made it even better for Beckmon. Previously, Beckmon won the 6A Track and Field Showcase — the de facto state track meet in 2021 — with a mark of 19-8.5 at Pioneer Stadium in Oregon City in late May.
"You know you have the support when you're running here and you're also from Oregon," Beckmon told RunnerSpace. "You have to represent and it's really cool."
In her earlier jumps, Beckmon notched marks of 18-11.95, 18-1.72, 18-0.54 and 17-11.75, but had fallen to seventh place before exploding for a lifetime best on her final attempt.
"I'm not usually one to be super competitive for any of my other events except when it comes to long jump," she told RunnerSpace. "My goal today was to get into the top six, but as soon as I saw that I moved back into seventh place, I was like 'That's not going to happen.'
"I've never felt like that before when I was (sprinting down the runway) and I realized I needed to get this. I can't really explain it — it's just like I wanted to go. I even moved back my mark because I knew I was going to sprint this out and just popped it."
Beckmon wasn't the only local athlete to soar at the Outdoor Nationals either. DeShanae Norman, an incoming senior at Gladstone High School, stepped up to tie for third in the girls high jump with a leap of 5-8.5 (her mark tied event-winner Cheyla Scott of North Carolina and three other jumpers). Norman also placed eighth in the long jump at 18-10.50.
Also stepping up was Lake Oswego sprinter Mia Brahe-Pedersen, an incoming sophomore, who came through to finish fourth in the 100 meters with a time of 11.57 seconds. In the process, Brahe-Pedersen lowered her personal best and posted the second-fastest time in Oregon history, trailing just Churchill's Margaret Johnson-Bailes and her time of 11.30 set back in 1967.
Brahe-Pedersen also placed eighth in the 200 with a time of 23.78 (just off the PR of 23.48 she set in the preliminaries).
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