Chasing Gold at Hayward: The UO’s Olympic Trials Legacy

Knight Library

Once again Hayward Field will host the U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track & Field this summer. To mark the 100th year since the first occasion, the UO Libraries is hosting an exhibit titled “Chasing Gold at Hayward: The UO’s Olympic Trials Legacy,” which details the significant connection between the University of Oregon and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field.

US, Oregon state, UO, and Olympic flags
The U.S., State of Oregon, University of Oregon, and U.S. Olympic flags flew high over the team trials for track and field in 1972.

So, slip on your favorite kicks (no spikes, please) and head to Knight Library to take a captivating journey through archival materials from the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives that illustrate the evolution of Hayward Field from its modest origins to a world-class facility. Carefully curated by newly named Athletics Archivist, Lauren Goss, the exhibit includes a wide variety of artifacts including:

  • 1956 Olympic track team exhibition meet
    Program cover 1956

    Programs from 1956, 1968, and 1972

  • Letters to/from Bill Bowerman, W.L. “Bill” Hayward, and other track and field luminaries 
  • Webfoot Runners workout sheets for athletes Roscoe Divine and Dave Wilborn from 1968 
  • Photos showing the evolution of Hayward Field 
  • Video clips from Olympic Track and Field trials and other competitions 
  • The book Hayward Field: Legends and Legacy includes UO athlete-alumni English Gardner and Devon Allen among others

Not only are the artifacts interesting, but they are artfully arranged in the UO Libraries’ brand new glass display cases. Better lighting and more shelf space allow Mandi Garcia, library exhibits coordinator, to show off each artifact to its best advantage.  

Celebrating 100 Years of Track and Field Trials 

Positioned at the heart of a bustling university campus, the iconic Hayward Field—the site of victories, heartaches, and record-breaking moments—stands as a testament to the fervent local athletic community and their enduring passion for track and field. 

Since 1924, the UO has hosted Olympic tryouts, exhibition meets, and team trials many times! The events have taken (or are taking) place on the UO campus in the following years: 

  • 1924—Olympic Tryouts 

    woman running on a track
    1976 marked the first trials to feature combined competition for men and women.
  • 1956—U.S. Olympic Track Team Exhibition Meet 
  • 1960—U.S. Olympic Men’s Track & Field Exhibition Meet 
  • 1968—U.S. Pre-Olympic Men’s Track and Field Exhibition Meet 
  • 1972—U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track and Field 
  • 1976—U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track and Field (the first trials to feature combined competition for men and women) 
  • 1980—U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track and Field (though the trials were awarded to Eugene for the third time in a row, President Jimmy Carter and the US Olympic Committee boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow in protest of the Soviet-Afghan War. Members of the U.S. Olympic Team were awarded Congressional Gold Medals in recognition of not being able to compete.) 
  • 2008—U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track and Field 
  • 2012—U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track and Field 
  • 2016—U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track and Field (TrackTown USA, Inc., a local non-profit organization, begin organizing trials at Hayward Field) 
  • 2020—U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track and Field (hosted in 2021 due to COVID-19)  
  • 2022—hosted the World Athletics Championships
  • 2024—U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Track and Field (June 21–30) 

New Archivist Position to Anchor Athletics Collections 

This exhibit also serves as the starting line for a new athletics archival program. Earlier this year, UO Libraries received close to $1 million from a generous lead donor to support expansion of our athletics archives, headed by Reference Services Coordinator and Assistant University Archivist for Athletics Lauren Goss.  

The new funding will enable Goss to more proactively curate records in this area and engage in additional academic and public outreach, building on the UO’s strong athletics brand and legacy. Goss is now just one of fewer than ten archivists in the United States with this role. Her research interests and expertise in Title IX and UO athletes position her well to expand collections, support researchers, and further educate our community about the UO Libraries' rich resources. Learn more about her research in her thesis.

“The history of UO athletics is intertwined with the history of the university. I am honored by this generous funding to create this new program. I look forward to working with campus partners and community organizations on innovative projects,” Goss said.  

Vice Provost and University Librarian Alicia Salaz echoed Goss’s excitement about the new program, sharing: “The athletics archival program is closely aligned with both University Archives’ mission to preserve and tell the story of the University’s history and impact and the UO Libraries’ strategies of enhancing community and civic engagement and contributing to undergraduate research and instructional opportunities with the use of primary sources.” 

track stadium crowd
Steve Prefontaine (right) competed in the 1972 games, held in Munich, Germany.

More Resources

Learn more about Hayward Field’s storied history here

Watch “The Heart of Tracktown” to explore how the Eugene community built a legacy of shoes, trails, world records, and a healthy obsession with running. Starting at 3:53, hear Lauren Goss speak about the UO’s history of track and field beginning in 1895. 


Thanks go to “Chasing Gold at Hayward” exhibit curator Lauren Goss and to Emily Moore, Mandi Garcia, Victoria Wong, Ashlee Weitlauf, Sam Berry, Lucas Chapman, Doug Hodson, and Amy Lake who helped bring this history to life.  

—By Kate Conley, communications specialist, UO Libraries