EUGENE, Ore. -- With Lopez Lomong crossing the finish line Sunday with the third-fastest time in the men's 1,500, the 2008 Olympic track and field trials finally came to a close. The trials were, to say the least, a crazy, energetic 10-day adventure. And now, for the highlights:
Oregon owns the 800: When three Oregon guys swept the men's 800, the crowd went so crazy you had to wonder if it could get any louder. Nick Symmonds, Andrew Wheating and Christian Smith all surged late and -- with the growing crowd noise -- finished in dramatic fashion. Symmonds crossed the line with his arms raised, Wheating looked as surprised as anyone to finish second and Smith dove across the finish line to ensure his spot. (If there's one thing sports fans love, it's guts.) You didn't have to be a track junkie -- or a Ducks fan -- to appreciate what a brilliant race we had just witnessed.
And the crowd went quiet: Tyson Gay's injury in the 200 quarterfinal was devastating. Gay came to the trials -- along with fellow Adidas runner Allyson Felix -- as one of the favored darlings, and he didn't disappoint. He ran the fastest time under any conditions by a human when he clocked a 9.68 in the 100 finals and was poised to wow the crowd again in the 200.
Instead, he pulled up 25 meters into the race before collapsing to the ground, eliciting a collective gasp from the crowd, which then went silent. On the JumboTron, cameras zoomed in on Gay clutching his leg and tearing up. Now, as his agent has released a statement saying he has a strained hamstring, it's anyone's guess as to how Gay will run in Beijing.
Family heartbreak: This moment had a University of Oregon tie to it. Tommy Skipper has been getting national attention in the pole vault since he was a sophomore in high school. He donned a Ducks uniform after graduating from Sandy (Ore.) High School and proceeded to win five NCAA championships (three outdoor and two indoor).
Skipper talked about competing in the Olympics since before he could vote. When he no-heighted in the preliminaries of the pole vault at the trials, it was shocking and disappointing for fans. What's more, Skipper was personally devastated, saying he felt he had let down his late brother, Art, who had been an NCAA javelin champion at Oregon.
All about the accessories: Roald Bradstock donned three outfits for his three javelin throws: First it was a zebra striped suit, then a multi-colored one and last -- but fitting for the Fourth of July -- but not least, a red, white and blue ensemble. All this, and he had a striped javelin. The consensus: Horizontal stripes aren't flattering on many, but a good sense of humor will net you as much crowd support as a big throw.
The runner-up for this category was steeplechaser Anna Willard, who sported a hot pink streak in her blonde hair for no reason at all. The day after her race, Willard showed up at the track as a spectator with matching hot pink fingernail tips and giant hoop earrings. In her race, by the way, Willard set an American record (9:27.59) and earned a berth in the first Olympic running of the women's steeplechase.
Quote me: It must be something about the steeplechase. A sampling from Anthony Famiglietti's press conference following his dominant performance in the men's steeple -- the runner grabbed the mike, struck a pose and started singing the national anthem. He only got a few bars in before sitting down, shrugging and saying "I'd keep going if I were a better singer."
He went on to talk about human-rights issues in China, biking around Beijing on his last stay there in 2001, why he took his victory lap in the stands instead of around the stands and said he'd be shooting for a bronze in Beijing because there's a good chance someone in his event will be cheating. At the very least, Famiglietti should provide some great one-liners at the games.
Hayward Field loves... High school runners. Laura Roesler, a junior-to-be from North Dakota, got a pretty good cheer when she ran in the semifinals of the 800. It was nothing compared to the roar for Jordan Hasay, a runner from California who just completed her junior year of high school. At one point during her semifinal heat, the crowd started a deafening chant of "Go to Ore-gon!" Does the NCAA have rules against that?
I'd like to work: Here, there, anywhere. That was the response of most of the 2,200 volunteers when asked where they'd like to be placed to work. Track and field diehards from 47 states poured into Eugene to help pull off the 10-day event, and scored some sweet loot: They were outfitted with Nike T-shirts and hats, and each received a highly coveted pass to the Nike Employee Store. But their best haul was undoubtedly a front-row seat to all the action. Who wants to come back for the 2012 trials?