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.

2010-2011 Prefontaine Athletic Award


Presented by Mac McIntosh
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet
January 27, 2012

Good Evening.

Blake KempIt is a distinct pleasure and a true honor to present the 2011 Prefontaine Athlete of the Year award to Blake Kemp.

The legacy established by Steve Prefontaine pervades our community; its enhancement is a cornerstone of the Marshfield track and field program. Pre's achievements as a prep athlete provide continuing inspiration to our coaches, volunteers, and every athlete who wears purple and gold. Blake added to that legacy of athletic achievement by breaking a 40-year-old high hurdle record held by a kid named "McIntosh", trained by a coach named "Solomon". He set a second school record by anchoring the 2010 4x100 relay team.

His points as a sophomore helped the Pirates earn the second boys state championship team trophy in school history. He holds meet records at invitational meets across the state and led the Pirate boys to team championships at the district meet four years in a row. Marshfield High School recognized his distinguished prep career by naming him the 2011 Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Beyond athletic achievement, however, Blake's leadership and character elevated him to elite status among high school contemporaries. A valedictorian of the Class of 2011, he earned an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. He declined this prestigious offer to pursue his athletic dream of competing in Duck green and yellow and finished the first term with a 3.85 GPA in Physics. Training for the decathlon, he will be red-shirting through the indoor season and has impressed the Oregon coaching staff with the same qualities that made him a two-time Pirate team captain: undaunted enthusiasm, unwavering commitment to athletic excellence, and a prodigious work ethic.

More than any member of the Pirate Track and Field program, Blake earned the respect of his teammates, his coaches, the volunteers who stage the best meets in the state at Prefontaine Track, and competitors across the Pacific Northwest. In Marshfield's 103 year history of fielding track and field teams, 19 boys have earned individual state championships. Two of them won two titles. Steve Prefontaine, earned three titles in track and field and two individual titles as a cross country athlete. Blake is the only Pirate boy who's earned four individual state track and field championship medals.

Blake embodies the standards we seek to develop within our track and field program: live with integrity, compete with class, and add to the legacy. He has brought recognition to our program, to Marshfield High School and to the Bay Area community at large. On behalf of that community, I'm proud to recognize him as the 2011 Prefontaine Athlete of the Year.