Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Brown Trafton, Sac State's director of operations for track and field, competes at the USATF Championships in discus. (Sacramento State/Steve McKay)
Olympic and world champions. American record-holders. Hornet Stadium’s brand-new, state-of-the-art track surface, producing some of the fastest times by Americans this year. Ardent fans braving Sacramento’s June heat in unexpected numbers. A pregnant middle-distance runner who makes national headlines. More than four hours of live coverage by NBC showcasing Sacramento State’s beautiful campus.
The 2014 USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships wrapped up Sunday afternoon at Hornet Stadium after four thrilling days of competition that attracted 32,783 spectators – a far larger crowd than organizers had anticipated. (The grand total for the championships was 38,283, including the 5,500 people who thronged to the State Capitol for first-day events June 25.)
Among the elite athletes who competed were Sacramento State alumni Lea Wallace (800- and 1500-meter runs), Ronald Brookins (110-meter high hurdles), and Jesse Elvrom and Chris Kirkwood (javelin).
Stephanie Brown Trafton, the gold medalist in discus at the 2008 Summer Olympics, finished fourth at the USATF Championships with a throw of 193 feet. She’s director of operations for Sac State’s track and field teams.
“These championships were a terrific example of how Sacramento State can support the region,” says Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez. “We were proud to be at the center of all of this excitement, and we look forward to working with city leaders to bring more events to Sacramento.”
Hornet Stadium has hosted some of the nation’s most prestigious meets, including the 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. It was the site of the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, which attracted nearly 360,000 spectators.
This year, the stadium’s $1.4 million, green-and-gold Mondo Super X 720 track – unveiled in May and paid for by the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau – received rave reviews from the athletes.
“They love the track, particularly in the jumps, where they have to move their steps back. It’s so fast,” said Kathleen Raske, Sac State’s director of track and field. “People are very, very happy.”
Mike Sophia, director of the Sacramento Sports Commission, is hopeful that the good turnout for the just-completed USATF Championships will bring the event back to Hornet Stadium in 2017.– Dixie Reid