Oregon’s men’s track and field has won the second-most individual outdoor titles in NCAA history, filling the historic Hayward Field with plenty of hardware. With so much success, we created an all-time relay team of Oregon men’s track and field greats.
Three relays are currently held at the NCAA Championships — the 4x100 meter relay, the 4x400 meter relay and the Distance Medley Relay. But which one fits Oregon for an all-time team the best?
Making the choice between the three events is easy. The only relay ever won by an Oregon men’s team is the DMR, which the Ducks won in 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2021.
That said, let’s get into the all-time team.
The Oregon men's track and field all-time relay team
1. Edward Cheserek - 1200 meters
Is that Edward Cheserek running the 1200 meter portion of the DMR? Yes it is.
While Cheserek anchored Oregon’s 2015 and 2016 championship DMRs, he also ran the first leg once with the Ducks at the 2015 MPSF Indoor Track & Field Championships — a race Oregon won. To create more flexibility for Oregon’s all-time greats, the MPSF race from Cheserek allows him to run lead off.
Cheserek brings 12 individual titles from 2014-17 to this all-time relay team. His win in the mile in 2015 shows he has the speed to run lead off here, and his three straight titles in the 10K from 2014-2016 prove he has the strength and endurance. Cheserek kicking off this all-time relay is exciting.
2. Mike Berry - 400 meters
Mike Berry never won an individual NCAA title, but he does hold the Oregon indoor and outdoor 400 meter school records entering 2024 at 45.64 and 44.75 seconds, respectively. For a school that hasn’t had an individual champion in an event that was 400 meters since John F. Kennedy was president, Berry’s school records are enough for him to hold this spot.
3. Andrew Wheating - 800 meters
Andrew Wheating won four individual titles in Eugene, winning the 2009 outdoor 800, the 2010 1500 and sweeping the 2010 800s. Wheating also led Oregon to back-to-back DMR titles in 2009 and 2010. Impressively, Wheating ran the third leg (800 meters) in 2009 and the anchor leg (1600 meters) in 2010. That versatility will benefit this all-time team.
4. Steve Prefontaine - 1600 meters
While Steve Prefontaine didn’t win a DMR title at Oregon, it’s hard to ignore his accomplishments as a Duck. Prefontaine won the men’s three mile run (now known as the 5000 meters) in four straight years from 1970-1973, setting a championship record of 13:05.3 in his final season. Prefontaine is one of two men (UTEP’s Suleiman Nyambui being the other) to win individual track titles in the same event in four straight years. He set nine collegiate records, five American records and competed in the 1972 Olympic Games during his time at Oregon.
Prefontaine’s consistency over a four-year stretch gets him the anchor leg, closing an elite all-time Oregon relay team.
- Dyrol Burleson
- Joaquim Cruz
- Bill Dellinger
- Ashton Eaton
- Mac Fleet
- Cole Hocker
- Jerry Tarr
If not for Cheserek’s 2015 MPSF race, Cole Hocker or Mac Fleet would be the first leg of this all-time relay. Hocker ran only one DMR during his collegiate career, but he did finish his time at Oregon with three 2021 NCAA titles in the mile, 3000 meters and 1500 meters. Fleet won 1500 meter titles in 2013 and 2014.
For the 400-meter second leg, Jerry Tarr drew consideration as the only Duck to win an individual NCAA title in a 400 meter event, winning the 1962 400 hurdles — an event that helped lead Oregon to its first team title. However, Tarr misses the team because his main event was the 110 hurdles during his heyday. All-time decathlon great Ashton Eaton was also considered for the second leg since his 400 meter time is the 10th fastest in school history entering 2024.
Joaquim Cruz was the next athlete in consideration for the third leg. Cruz won the 1983 and 1984 800 outdoor titles and the 1984 1500 outdoor title. However, Cruz never won an indoor 800 meter title like Wheating, nor did he help Oregon to a DMR title.
Dyrol Burleson, Bill Dellinger and Galen Rupp were the other candidates for the anchor leg. The top contender was Rupp. In 2009, Rupp led Oregon to its first DMR title as the anchor leg and its first indoor team title. Rupp won the 3000 meters and 5000 meters at the indoor championships and the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters at the outdoor championships. Rupp’s spectacular 2009 season saw him to win the first-ever Bowerman trophy. Nonetheless, Rupp falls behind Prefontaine as the all-time anchor leg because Prefontaine won championships in multiple years.
THE BOWERMAN: Complete history of the track and field honor
Burleson followed Rupp in the pecking order for the anchor leg after winning three straight outdoor mile titles from 1960-1962. However, Burleson doesn’t have the multiple titles in a year that Rupp does, nor did he match Prefontaine’s four straight titles in an event. Dellinger misses out because in his impressive career he never got to compete for an NCAA championship in the DMR, as the event wasn’t established until 1967.