Born January 25, 1951, Coos Bay, Oregon. Died May 30, 1975.
During the last 40 years, Eugene, Oregon, has been regarded as the U.S. running capital and Steve Prefontaine was a major factor in that boom. One of the greatest distance runners in U.S. track and field history, Prefontaine won six national collegiate distance titles, including cross country, and two AAU crowns before a fatal automobile accident cut short his career in 1975.
One of the University of Oregon's greatest athletes, Prefontaine, or "Pre" as the crowd in Eugene was prone to chant when he ran, held the American 5,000-meter record and was on the 1972 Olympic team, placing fourth in the five kilometers. He was also an outstanding high school distance runner at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay and some of his records still stand. Elected to U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1991.