PREFONTAINE ATHLETIC AWARD SPEECH
Presented by Jay Farr, Prefontaine Memorial Committee
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet
January 28, 2006
My name is Jay Farr and as a founding member of the Prefontaine Memorial Run Committee, it is my profound privilege to be here tonight to present the 2005 Prefontaine Athletic Award.
Let me first tell you a little about Steve Prefontaine and why after over 30 years since his death, Steve is still an important spokesman for amateur athletics in general and Coos County athletes in particular.
Steve was born and raised in Coos Bay. He graduated from Marshfield High School in 1969. While at Marshfield, he set school records in the 880, 1500 and 3000 meter runs. He still owns those records. His 2-mile time was the National High School record for many years. His coach at Marshfield was a University of Oregon runner by the name of Walt McClure, so it was natural that he should be interested in going to the U of O and running under the legendary coach Bill Bowerman, who had been coach McClure's coach. At the U of O, Steve won three NCAA cross country championships and four 3-mile NCAA Outdoor championships, a feat that has never been repeated. In 1972 Steve represented the USA at the Olympics in Munich, where he forced the pace of the 5000 meter final, finishing 4th in one of the most courageous races of his career. In 1975, at the time of his death, Steve held every American distance record from 2000 meters to 10000 meters.
Today, Steve is as respected as when he died. His life has been the subject of documentaries and full-length movies, and he continues to be a symbol for the Oregon-based company that he once worked for Nike.
Because of his connection with our community, the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce was responsible for the establishment of the 10K Prefontaine Memorial Run, which has been held every September for the past 26 years. Proceeds from the race and sales of memorabilia on the prefontainerun.com website enabled us to donate over $10,000 last year to the high school and middle school running programs in Coos County. In addition, as a committee we recognize annually an athlete from Marshfield or North Bend High School. Each year that decision is a difficult one and this year the quality of candidates was so exceptional that we felt that two awards were in order.
The Prefontaine Athletic Award recipient has not always been a track athlete, but as a group of fanatical track fans, it is particularly rewarding to give it to a trackster. This year's Prefontaine Athletic Award winners are Ashley McCrea from North Bend High School and Leah Worthen of Marshfield High School. Leah is unable to be with us tonight because she is at the University of Washington competing in her first collegiate indoor track meet. She will be represented tonight by her parents, Fran and Jerry Worthen. Ashley is here with her parents Tom and Janet McCrea and her extended family. As Ashley and Fran make their way to the podium, let me tell you about their accomplishments.
Both ladies are now teammates on the University of Oregon track team. Both were members of State Championship teams, and both of them are excellent students and wonderful representatives for our area. Both girls are honor roll students pursuing degrees in Family and Human Services and education and journalism.
Leah was a three-sport varsity athlete at Marshfield. She was the most inspirational member of the cross country team her senior season. She was captain of the basketball team. She was the league champion her sophomore, junior and senior years in the 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash and 1600-meter relay. She was the state champion in the 400-meter dash, and her senior year as team captain, lead the Marshfield girls to the State Championship Team title. She was also the Les Schwab Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year for 2005.
Ashley was also a three-sport varsity athlete at North Bend. In volleyball, she was 2nd team all league on the Bulldog team that finished 5th in state. In basketball, she was honorable mention all league on the State Championship team. In track, she is the school record holder in the javelin, a two-time state champion and was ranked 2nd last year in the nation! She was Female Athlete of the Year for North Bend High School and the World Newspaper's South Coast Athlete of the Year.
I am pleased to be assisted tonight in the presentation of these awards by Steve's mother, Elfriede Prefontaine.