The April 2 edition of TrackTown Tuesday featured Olympians, UO student-athletes, and hometown entrepreneurs in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Downtown Athletic Club.
Bowerman Track Club teammates Shelby Houlihan and Colleen Quigley anchored the show, sharing stories not only of their accomplishments but also of their connection as teammates. Houlihan described the competitiveness of being a professional athlete on the BTC squad.
“The team sets a high level of expectation,” said Houlihan. “We had 7 of 8 women on the Olympic team. I was the one who raced last. I saw all my teammates line up and make the Olympic team. I said, ‘Okay, if they can do it, I can do it too.’”
The crowd was treated to videos of wins by both athletes from the past two seasons.
Houlihan’s victory in the 1500m at the 2018 U.S. Outdoor Championships was perhaps her breakout performance. “I always knew I had it in me,” said Houlihan. “I had such a patient build up in mileage. Trusting the process and eventually one of these years it would all come together. Last year was perfect for it. Hopefully it continues to keep clicking and I keep getting stronger.”
Quigley felt her mile victory at the 2019 U.S. Indoor Championships was a long time coming as she had lost to Houlihan the past two years. Laughs were shared with the crowd as Quigley and Houlihan displayed their friendly competition. Still, that race meant a lot for Quigley who has suffered injuries since turning pro.
“Each time I’ve been injured, there’s a low point of thinking I’m never going to be able to run again,” said Quigley. “Then I get into these highs of being able to run and being grateful for running. I am now able to run with a sense of joy and freedom. It’s a constant up and down but I just have to ride those waves.”
Former Stanford track and field standouts turned married entrepreneurs Lauren Fleshman and Jesse Thomas showcased Picky Bars, their nutrition bar company. The idea for the bars was borne out of Thomas’ need for healthy fuel for his training.
“I made Jesse energy bars that were digestible for him,” said Fleshman. “Being an entrepreneur was way out of the question. But then I asked, ‘Why is there nothing on the market made with real whole food ingredients and based in sports principles?’”
Fleshman was a five-time NCAA champion at Stanford and a two-time U.S. national champion in the 5,000m. She now coaches the elite running team Little Wing. Thomas, a professional triathlete, has found that his work at Picky Bars has been a good counterbalance to his athletic endeavors.
“It’s been really exciting to have something to sink your teeth into that is intellectual and that you’re passionate about,” said Thomas.
University of Oregon track and field horizontal jumpers Chaquinn Cook and Rhesa Foster were onstage after big individual performances that contributed to their team’s 3rd place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships last month in Birmingham, Ala.
UO senior Cook broke her own indoor triple jump school record with a leap of 13.83m (45-4.5) to notch a runner-up finish in that event.
“The feeling of just being on the runway and getting the clap going,” said Cook. “Not trying to freak myself out. All eyes were on me and I was able to do something good in the light of everybody.”
Foster also impressed with a fifth-place finish in the long jump at the NCAA meet. On her final jump in the competition, she soared to a mark of 6.31m (20-8.5). The junior is aiming to set her goals even higher this outdoor season.
“In the past, if I set out goals I did not reach, it took a number on me mentally,” said Foster. “I try not to get stressed out now. For the upcoming outdoors, I need to work on my speed and timing and just have fun with it.”
The next TrackTown Tuesday will be on May 7.