By René Ferrán | Photo by Leon Neuschwander
Sophia Beckmon is an Oregon City Pioneer, but the rising senior has found a second home at Hayward Field in Eugene.
For the third time in a year, Beckmon won a major championship at the University of Oregon’s hallowed track and field stadium, winning a second Nike Outdoor Nationals title in the long jump Friday afternoon.
Beckmon, who became the first Oregon girl to jump more than 20 feet with a legal wind in winning the OSAA Class 6A state championship last month, broke her record for the third time this year with her final jump of Friday’s competition, going 20-8.
“I wasn’t really going for the win, honestly,” Beckmon said Saturday after finishing a long day with an eighth-place finish in the Championship 100-meter final. “I was just looking to PR, but it’s definitely nice to come back here and defend my title. I’m definitely very excited about that.”
Recent Sunset graduate Benjamin Balazs won the 2,000-meter steeplechase Saturday, with Lake Oswego rising senior Kate Peters later becoming the third Oregonian to earn a national title during the four-day competition, winning the 2-mile run with a dominant final lap.
Balazs won the Metro League district titles in the 1,500 and 3,000 last month but was unable to compete at the OSAA 6A state meet the following weekend. He finally got his chance to return to Hayward, where he won the 2K steeplechase at the Oregon Relays, and after a steady first half of the race, he pulled away on the final lap to win in 5 minutes, 47.14 seconds.
Peters defeated Massachusetts standout Ellie Shea by nearly five seconds to win in 9:51.48, blowing away the previous state record in the event by almost 40 seconds.
The duo broke away from the lead pack around the mile mark, with Shea holding a slight lead until the bell lap. Peters passed her going around the curve onto the backstretch and steadily pulled away.
“It was nice, because I didn’t have to do any of the work,” Peters said. “I hung out behind her, sat with her the whole race, and then the last 300 meters, just went for it and outkicked her.”
A week ago, Peters ran the second-fastest 1,500 in state history at the Portland Track Festival, going 4:17.80. Now, she has her sights set on qualifying for the U.S. team that will head to Cali, Colombia, this summer for the world U-20 championships.
Peters will run the 3,000 meters at the U.S. U-20 championships that run concurrently with the U.S. national championships next weekend at Hayward.
“Things have been looking good in training,” said Peters, who has committed to Oklahoma State University. “I’m glad it’s all coming together so I can showcase myself and put on some good performances.”