Ducks Hire Marnie Mason as Women's Distance Coach

July 3, 2003

EUGENE - The University of Oregon track and field team announced that Marnie Mason will join the staff as an assistant track and field coach and will oversee the women's distance program for the upcoming 2003-04 season.

The head boy's and girl's distance coach and special education teacher at North Medford High School the past two seasons, she has quickly rebuilt the program, as her women's cross country squad finished 12th in the 2002 state meet last fall.

In her previous position as assistant track and head cross country coach at Klamath Union in Klamath Falls, Ore., Mason staked her reputation as one of the West Coast's top distance mentors with a successful three-year run from the fall of 1998 through spring of 2001. Among her numerous former prep pupils now competing in college, she has coached current Pac-10 student-athletes at Arizona State (Liz Lindgren), Oregon (redshirt sophomore Sara Schaaf) and Stanford (Ian Dobson, Jacob Gomez and Lauren Jesperson).

'We're excited to add Marnie to our staff,' Oregon coordinator of track and field Martin Smith said. 'She's an intelligent, hard-working and honest coach that has earned the respect of her peers. As an accomplished former Oregon prep athlete and coach, she has great in-state ties and knows the talent across the state. She has developed athletes from a variety of events that have continued to run at the highest levels of collegiate track and field. There's no questioning her drive and determination to make the Oregon women's distance program national-class.'

At Klamath Union, she coached five 4A state individual champions - Liz Lindgren (cross country '00), Ian Dobson (cross country '99), Jacob Gomez (3,000, '01), Sara Schaaf (800, '01, 400 '00) and Evan Garich (800, '00), with Dobson the third-place finisher in the 1999 Footlocker National Cross Country Championships as a senior. She was named 1999 Oregon Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year after her team won the state title and was ranked fifth nationally, and also guided squads to four other top-10 state harrier finishes in 2000 (boy's, 3rd; girl's, 7th) and1998 (boy's, 2nd, and girl's, 5th). She also taught special education and is certified for grades K-12.

A 1985 Klamath Union prep graduate herself, she won the 1985 4A state 3,000 title as a senior, and the 1983 state cross country title as a junior. At the national level, the prep track All-American also claimed the 1985 Footlocker West Regional prep cross country title (17:07) with the fifth-fastest time ever on the Woodward Park course in Fresno, then took eighth in the Footlocker Championships final later that season.

After high school, she competed three seasons for BYU. As a freshman in 1985 she ran on the Cougars' ninth-place NCAA squad, and placed 19th for the regional victors, before injuries and illness cut her sophomore and junior seasons short. Her senior year, she transferred to Southern Oregon and graduated with a bachelor's degree in social science and a special education teaching certificate. After graduation, she served as a special education teacher and track coach in Klamath Falls at Pelican Elementary School in 1993-94, and Roosevelt Elementary School in 1994-95.

'I'm excited to concentrate fully on being a Duck,' Mason said. 'Klamath and North Medford were two distinctly different challenges, and I'm equally excited about this chance. The University of Oregon, Eugene and Hayward Field deserve to have a great program, it's been a lifelong dream to be here. Looking back I made a mistake not coming here when Tom (Heinonen) recruited me as an athlete - this is a truly inspirational place. I've known Martin for five to six years as he's recruited my athletes, and he knows me. I'm very competitive and very honest, and I'm going to love recruiting and keeping the best Oregon athletes in-state.'

The 2003 Duck cross country unit comes off a pair of fifth-place finishes in the Pac-10 and West Regional Championships under former women's head coach Tom Heinonen. The squad returns three of last year's four, top-30 regional finishers - seniors Eri Macdonald (26th) and Magdalena Sandoval (30th) and junior Laura Harmon (24th) - with only two letterwinners graduating - All-American Carrie Zografos and Erinn Gulbrandsen.

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