Steve Prefontaine

International Track Star - Running Legend

Prefontaine Athletic Award


In 1984, the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce President asked the Prefontaine Memorial Committee to establish an annual award to a Coos Bay/North Bend student-athlete to be presented at the Chamber's Annual Awards Banquet.

Beginning in 1985, the Prefontaine Memorial Committee has honored outstanding student-athletes whose accomplishments most closely reflected the excellence in athletics demonstrated by the late Steve Prefontaine.

Steve Prefontaine grew up in Coos Bay, OR and graduated from Marshfield High School in 1969. He was a two-time State Cross County Champion, two-time State 2-Mile Champion and also won the State Championship in the mile his senior season. Also during his senior season, Steve established a new National 2-mile record with a time of 8:41.5 at a meet in Corvallis and that record stood for many years. He capped his high school career by placing 4th in the 3-mile at the AAU National Championships, where he was chosen to compete internationally on the USA team.

Steve went on to the University of Oregon to run under the legendary Bill Bowerman. During his years at Oregon he won three National Collegiate Cross County Championships and four 3-mile/5,000-meter Collegiate Outdoor titles. In 1972, Steve won the Olympic Trials 5,000-meters race in front of a standing room only crowd of adoring fans at Hayward Field in Eugene. Later that fall, Steve represented the United States at the Summer Olympic Games of Munich, Germany where he finished 4th in one the most stirring 5,000-meter races in Olympic history. At the time of his tragic death in May of 1975, he held every American distance record from 2,000-meters to 10,000-meters.

Each year, the Prefontaine Memorial Committee asks the athletic directors of Marshfield High School and North Bend High School to submit the names of up to three worthy candidates for our consideration. Although the award is given primarily for excellence in athletics, we also look for excellence in character, involvement in the community outside of school activities and academics.

2011-2012 Prefontaine Athletic Award


Presented by Mac McIntosh
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet
January 25, 2013

Dalton MilburnI'd like to acknowledge Kelly and Tina Milburn, Bob and Janet Huggins, and our special guests, Steve Prefontaine's sister Linda and his mother, Elfreida.

          Shared experiences and shared identities define towns like ours.  We develop a sense of belonging, a feeling of ownership about our community through iconic memories that create a common culture.  One of those icons is "Steve Prefontaine", and 39 years after his death, his name is still magic.  His achievements as a middle distance racer still set the gold standard and continue to inspire generations of athletes and coaches pursuing excellence in sports as diverse as track and field, olympic weightlifting and NFL football.

          The Prefontaine Memorial Committee honors the legacy created by this 1969 graduate of Marshfield High School by selecting a deserving Athlete of the Year.  We seek a graduating student-athlete who mirrors Pre's work ethic, his character, and his perseverance.  While few match the lofty achievement of setting a national high school record, previous winners have been state champions, All-League and All-State honorees in multiple sports, team captains, valedictorians, and school record holders.

          This year's honoree fits that mold.  Since first meeting Dalton as a tight end while coaching the Marshfield freshman football team, I've grown to admire his determination, his work ethic, and his mature responsiveness to coaching.  We have three standards on the track team - live with integrity, compete with class, and add to the legacy.  Dalton both embraced and reflected those standards, compiled a 3.2 GPA, and like Pre, was a multi-sport athlete, earning multiple  All-League honors in football and basketball. 

          In track and field, throwers are specialists.  At international and collegiate levels, throwers train for and compete in one event.  Among more than 150 high school throwers in the top three classifications at last year's state meet, a handful qualified in two of the throws events.  Only one competed in all three.  Dalton not only competed in the shot, discus, and javelin, but he repeated as state champion in the discus, made finals, and scored points in the other two events.  As a junior at state, he won the discus on his last throw, breaking a 53-year old school record.  No other athlete in 105 years of Marshfield track and field history has accomplished this distinctive trifecta.

          That he did so is noteworthy.  That he trained for all three is indicative of his character.  I asked him personally to accept that challenge, to lead the team by scoring lots of points at district and state.  Others have balked at the discipline and commitment required to learn and master all three events.  He responded with determination, training for hours after every practice and in the process, became the most decorated thrower in school history.

          I'm pleased to have been one of his coaches.  It is a distinct privilege to present the 2012 Prefontaine Athlete of the Year award to a young man Pre would have been proud to call "teammate", Dalton Milburn.