Five Events You Won’t Want To Miss At This Weekend’s Prefontaine Classic

by Chrös McDougall

Bronze medalist Noah Lyles of Team United States and silver medalist Kenneth Bednarek of Team United States celebrate after the Men's 200 meter Final at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 04, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.


The country’s top track and field athletes will be in Eugene, Oregon, next month for the national championships. Three weeks later TrackTown USA will welcome the best from across the globe to compete in the world championships.
This weekend, fans can get a preview of both.
More than a dozen individual Olympic medalists, and many of the biggest names in U.S. track and field, are set to compete in the Prefontaine Classic. The lone U.S.-based Diamond League event of the season is set for 3:20 p.m. ET on Saturday with competition across 14 events. A slate of high-profile distance races, which aren’t part of the Diamond League, precede the event on Friday night.
The Prefontaine Classic kicks off a summer of high-level track and field at the Hayward Field, which reopened in spring 2020 following a massive overhaul. The USATF Outdoor Championships are set for June 23-26, with the world championships taking place July 15-24. The latter, which was originally scheduled for 2021 but postponed due to the pandemic, will be held in the U.S. for the first time.
The new Hayward Field has already played host to several memorable events, including NCAA championships, last year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials as well as the 2021 Prefontaine Classic, which saw several record-setting performances by some of the sport’s biggest names in a meet that took place just weeks after the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
More of that could be in store for this weekend with some of the biggest names in international track joining a who’s-who of top Americans. Among the U.S. athletes set to compete Saturday are Olympic medalists Valerie Allman, Ryan Crouser, Courtney Frerichs, Keni Harrison, Fred Kerley, Noah Lyles, Clayton Murphy, Michael Norman and Raevyn Rogers — to name just a few. And that’s not to mention Sha’Carri Richardson, who is set for a big-time showdown in the women’s 100-meter.
Here are five events you won’t want to miss.

 Hunter Woodhall of Team United States is seen before competing in the Men's 400 meter - T62 Final at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Para Men’s 400-Meter and Women’s 100-Meter

These aren’t part of the Diamond League, but when the Prefontaine Classic includes Para races for the first time in 33 years, it’s worth checking out. A men’s 400-meter T62 will follow a women’s 100-meter T63. Team USA’s Hunter Woodhall is the runner to watch in the 400, but the Tokyo bronze medalist in the event will face tough competition from reigning Paralympic gold medalist Johannes Floors of Germany and silver medalist Olivier Hendriks of the Netherlands. Fellow U.S. Paralympian Scout Basset is in the women’s race, which includes the Tokyo silver and bronze medalists, Martina Caironi and Monica Contrafatto, both of Italy.


Nia Ali of the United States looks on after competing in the Women's 60 Meter Hurdles during the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, Massachusetts on January 25, 2020

Women's 100-Meter Hurdles 

Defending world champion Nia Ali prioritized family over the Tokyo Games, and last summer she gave birth to her third child. Now she’s back at the top level of the sport — and she’s not easing into it. The hurdles field in Eugene also includes defending Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico and 2015 world champ Danielle Williams of Jamaica. And yet it’s another American, Keni Harrison, who holds the world record. Harrison is also coming off a silver medal in Tokyo.


Courtney Frerichs of the United States competes in the 3000 meter Steeplechase during the Wanda Diamond League Prefontaine Classic on August 21, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon

Women’s 3,000-Meter Steeplechase

Courtney Frerichs’ gutsy charge with a mile to go last year in Tokyo nearly paid off, with the two-time Olympian holding onto the lead until the final lap. She still came home with an Olympic silver medal, and 17 days later at the Prefontaine Classic she became the first American woman to break 9 minutes in the event, lowering her own U.S. record in the process. The 29-year-old makes her season debut in the steeplechase this weekend. She’ll be joined by fellow American Emma Coburn, a former world champion who is coming off a difficult performance in Tokyo in which she ultimately was DQ’d. Don’t expect an American fun run, though. World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya and defending Olympic champ Peruth Chemutai of Uganda are among those in this stacked field.

Ryan Crouser of Team United States competes in the Men's Shot Put Final on day thirteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo Japan

Men’s Shot Put

American Ryan Crouser returns to the venue where he broke the world record at last year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials. That throw also extended his winning streak in the men’s shot put, and it continued in Tokyo, where he successfully defended his Olympic title. However, the streak stopped at 27 when Crouser finished second at the indoor world championships in March. It marked his first loss since 2019. A new winning streak began a month later at the Drake Relays, though, and it’s already up to two. Fellow American Joe Kovacs and New Zealand’s Tom Walsh joined Crouser on the podium in Rio and Tokyo, and both will be competing in Eugene, too.

Fred Kerley, Noah Lyles and Bryan Henderson compete in the Men's 100 Meter Semi-Final at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials on June 20, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon

Men’s 100-Meter Run

American Trayvon Bromell was the world’s fastest man by time last year. He’ll have his work cut out for him in what might be the day’s most star-studded race.

Among the other Americans is Tokyo silver medalist Fred Kerley and the trio Kenny Bednarek, Noah Lyles and teenager Erriyon Knighton — who finished second, third and fourth in the 200 in Tokyo. Canada’s Andre De Grasse, who won that race and also took the bronze medal in the 100, is the top international competitor entered in Eugene. And yet the favorite among all of them very well might be American Christian Coleman. The defending 100-meter world champion was considered the gold-medal favorite for Tokyo before being suspended for missing consecutive drug tests. Coleman is coming off a win two weeks ago in Japan in what was his first 100-meter race since 2019. 

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic Movement for since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.