Riley Masters will be a busy runner this weekend.
The Veazie native, who just wrapped up an outstanding freshman cross country and track and field campaign at the University of Maine, will compete in the U.S. Junior National meet at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field this weekend.
Masters, who is running in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, will be joined at the meet by teammates Jesse Labreck and Corey Conner, who were en route to Oregon on Wednesday.
Labreck is competing in the 100-meter hurdles and the triple jump and Conner in the 1,500.
Masters, who has never competed at Hayward, is relishing the opportunity.
“Every distance runner I know knows who [running legend] Steve Prefontaine is. Every distance runner wants to compete at Hayward Field,” said Masters, who admitted his father was a bit baffled at the stadium’s history when he heard the news.
“That’s what I was telling my dad. He didn’t know what Hayward Field was. I said it’s like the Fenway Park of track facilities,” Masters said.
Masters has an excellent chance to qualify for the Junior World championships in Trinidad later this summer in the 1,500.
He’s seeded third in that event, and the top two finishers qualify for the World championships.
“I think its definitely a tangible goal,” he said. “As long as I set my sights on it, I guess it’s right there.”
With a fairly large crowd expected and some sound competition, Masters can certainly clip his personal best of 3 minutes, 48 seconds in the 1,500.
He’s the fifth seed in the 5,000.
“Yeah, I’m hoping so. With that competition and that atmosphere I’m hoping I can run a pretty solid time,” Masters said.
Masters knows he’ll have to eclipse his PR to earn a top-two spot.
“I’m actually thinking its going to be right around 3:45. Anything around 3:45 should be able to sneak onto the U.S. junior team,” he said.
He hasn’t raced on a track since the NCAA Qualifying meet earlier this spring, but Masters has been staying on top of his game, plugging 45 miles a week with two to three speed workouts while winning the Milk Mile road race in Bangor June 13, clocking a 4:24 on a downhill course on Main Street.
Masters is also certainly no stranger to competing in front of capacity crowds.
“We can in the Penn Relays, there were 40,000 people there,” he said. “I’m definitely looking forward to getting out there and performing.”
Masters is also setting his sights on the upcoming Walter Hunt Memorial 3K road race and breaking a 20-year old course record of 8:07 shared by Gerry Clapper and Tim Wakeland.
Conner will certainly have her fair share of competition in the 1,500, as one of the runners in that race will be Jordan Hasay, who competed in the Olympic Trials last summer.
Tour du Lac Saturday
One of Maine’s most popular road races will celebrate its 34th birthday this weekend.
Bucksport will once again host the Tour du Lac, a challenging 10-miler run throughout the vast hills of the town.
The race starts at 7:30 a.m. at the town swimming pool on Broadway, just down the road from the high school, and registration starts at 6:30.
The loop course starts and finishes at the pool, which will be open to runners after the race.
Registration fees are only $10, and awards go three-deep in overall and several age group categories.