The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

A mysterious delivery: Bronze statue appears on doorstep

Most Oregonians know who Steve Prefontaine was–a running legend who grew up in Coos Bay, graduated from Marshfield High School, ran for the University of Oregon, and eventually won a 4th place medal in the 1972 Olympics. Linda Prefontaine, Steve’s sister, arrived home recently to a mysterious bronze statue of her running brother, sitting in her driveway. The running sculpture measures approximately two feet tall, and weighs 32 pounds; just light enough for Linda Prefontaine to move it inside for the night, to figure out how it got there. Her only clue as to where it came from was a handwritten note on a torn piece of paper. It said: “thought this should belong with you,” with a phone number. Otherwise, the deliverer was unknown.

“I’m glad I wasn’t out of town,” she said. “It probably would have been stolen.”

She tried to call the number right away, but it just rang. Several tries and messages later, and she still had not heard back. But finally, a few months later, she tried again and finally got through.

She discovered that this specific statue was originally intended for Bill and Barbara Bowerman, Steve Prefontaine’s college running coach and wife. Bill Bowerman is also a co-founder of Nike, as the running shoes he would craft for his athletes were the initial seedlings of the current multi-billion dollar Nike empire. It was unclear if the sculpture ever actually made it to the Bowermans.

On a little research, Linda Prefontaine found that only a couple of these statues were ever made, commissioned by an artist who was close to her brother at the time. She reached out to Bill Bowerman’s sons, but still never received many definitive answers. Jay Bowerman, one of their sons, said he didn’t know anything about the statue, nor did any of the other family members. The Bowerman family prompted her to donate it to Marshfield High School. 

“I told them about Heritage Hall and they seem to be happy with that solution,” explained Linda Prefontaine. 

For now, the plan is to display it in Heritage Hall, along with an article about Bill Bowerman and Steve Prefontaine’s legendary relationship. This statue will add to Steve Prefontaine’s undying legacy in the community of Coos Bay.

As a runner, Steve Prefontaine’s skills are renowned around the world, causing fans of his to come from across the globe. The high school track is dedicated in his name, multiple murals, and even statues, grace Oregon’s Bay Area in memory of Steve Prefontaine, or Pre, who died in 1975. 

“Coos Bay has done a tremendous job carrying on Pre’s legacy especially with our skillful track program who has now won back to back state championships,” said Marshfield High School Principal Elias Ashton. 

Pre was able to easily qualify for the Olympics with his astonishing running times, and he broke many state records in his high school and college running career. He took the fourth place spot in the 5k during the 1972 Munich Olympics. Unfortunately, he died in a car accident at the age of 24.

By his senior year at MHS, Steve Prefontaine had offers from every school across the nation. His high school coach, Walt McClure, who was coached by Bill Bowerman, encouraged Pre to go to The University of Oregon. The U of O’s track team was coached by Bill Bowerman and Bill Dellinger at that time. 

“Bill Bowerman was very influential to Pre,” said Ashton. “Without a good coach you won’t get to the Olympics.”

 Bowerman noticed that Pre was from a small town and was very blunt, similar to himself. He gave Pre the nickname Rube for his bleak honesty and pessimistic frankness. Pre was able to easily secure a spot on the roster of the U of O’s distance team coached by Bill Bowerman. Bowerman would go on to coach Pre throughout his time with the ducks,and support him during his time running in the Olympics. 

To further celebrate Pre’s legacy, there is an annual Prefontaine Memorial Run annually in Coos Bay, dedicated to Steve Prefontaine. The race is a 10k and covers Prefontaine’s everyday training path he would run throughout his time in high school. The race features a series of hills along the way with the famous one called Agony Hill. This hill has a large, gradual incline which makes it particularly hard for runners to keep up a good pace. The race starts at the corner of 4th and Anderson in downtown Coos Bay and ends at the MHS track. The race activities have expanded to include a parade and booths, also known as Family Fun Days, in Coos Bay. Along with a race, a yearly high school cross country race takes place at the same time. 

“I love running the Pre every year and I strive to push myself and become part of the legacy of exceptional distance runners from Marshfield,” explained MHS sophomore Jackson Stovall. “Getting on the same list as Steve Prefontaine and Alex Garcia Silver Would be amazing.”

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About the Contributors
Spencer Pederson
Spencer Pederson, Opinion Editor
Senior Spencer Pederson, against all odds, is back with The Marshfield Times for his third year. He is the little brother of Mckena Pederson, the former managing editor prodigy, who won numerous awards for the Marshfield times program. He is a four-year varsity member of the Marshfield tennis team and a four-time MHS soccer player. He is involved in SNHS, NHS, and the charity program. Pederson has a 3.99 GPA. He enjoys camping and fishing with his family. He loves to give fist bumps and hang out with his friends. His challenging classes, anatomy, AP U.S. History, and being ASB President, push him to be a hard worker. He almost left the staff confused and demoralized trying to fill in the gaping hole that would have been created when he was debating on withdrawing from the class. However he is back once again prepared to keep the Pederson legacy in the golden glow of success.
Jonah Putman
Jonah Putman, Sports Reporter
Senior Jonah Putman is a third year Journalism staff member. He prefers writing sports stories over anything else in Journalism. He enjoys playing soccer and listening to music. He's also involved in the school's football, soccer, and tennis teams. Jonah is planning on graduating with an honors diploma. He has a 3.8 GPA which is going to help him achieve his academic goals. Jonah loves to make breakfast foods and absolutely obliterates every breakfast meal he creates. In his free time, Jonah likes to play video games and annoy his little brother. Jonah thinks that grape and strawberry are the worst flavors of Gatorade you can buy.
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