LOS ANGELES — Occidental College's track wasn't a training facility for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games for no reason and the top-notch venue could play a role in the 2012 games as well.
Bill Henry Track, widely regarded as one of the fastest in the nation, will be the site of a United States Track and Field High Performance Meet this Friday. Some of the best distance runners in the nation are set to compete in the 800, 1,500, 3,000 steeplechase and 5,000 meters with the hopes of hitting Olympic qualifying standards for the London games this summer.
"For the distance events, this could be one of the best track meets in the United States this year," Occidental coach Rob Bartlett said. "Arguably, outside of the Olympic trials, this might be the best distance meet of the year."
It's the third consecutive year that the USATF has sought out Oxy's facility to host one of its high performance meets.
Bill Henry Track is a preferred venue because unlike most collegiate stadiums, it was built with track and field in mind first and football second, making the artificial turf area inside the running surface wider. On top of that, it boats a very fast running surface.
"Our stadium is a track stadium with a football field in it," Occidental coach Rob Bartlett said. "The reason they chose Occidental is because it has a reputation of being one of the fastest tracks in the nation."
Around 250 men and women will compete, all with impressive resumes. Two of the more notable participants will be current World Champions Mo Farah and Jenny Simpson. Farah won the men's 5k at the 2011 World Championships and Simpson won the 1,500.
Several current Oxy track and field athletes will work the event as volunteers.
Admission is $ 7 for adults and $ 3 for children and students.