NORMAN — After competing on the road for the first five weekends of the outdoor season, the University of Oklahoma track and field teams finally get a chance to compete on their own turf.
The Sooners will host nine teams, including in-state schools Central Oklahoma and Tulsa, in the 48th annual John Jacobs Invitational at the John Jacobs Field. Nebraska (ranked No. 18 nationally on the men’s side in the latest United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association’s ranking), North Texas, South Plains, Wichita State, Butler Community College, Missouri State University and Texas-Arlington are the other collegiate teams.
“Hosting a meet at the University of Oklahoma allows us to showcase our facility,” explains head coach Jim VanHootegem. “We have a wonderful facility and it’s a great venue. I was able to bring teams here three times before I coached at OU, and always thought it was a great place to have a track meet. It’s a special place. In addition, we want to compete in front of home fans. Most of the time we are on the road, so this is a great opportunity. We want our student-athletes to have their friends, family and all Sooner fans come out and watch them compete.”
This weekend’s meet also provides a chance to honor the past as well as the present in Oklahoma track and field history.
It is about honoring Oklahoma track and field’s past and the legacy of John Jacobs and the championship teams he coached. Jacobs was a Sooner track and field athlete and later head coach at OU from 1922 to 1958. He became an associate head coach until his retirement in 1968.
This year marks the 48th version of the meet that is held on the very grounds that he designed and that bear his name.
“We feel very strongly about the honor of representing Oklahoma and realize there’s a lot of people who came before us. One thing we want to honor, at this meet in particular, are the teams that won the championships in the early 1960s, right at the end of John Jacobs’ era at OU.”
The Sooners won back-to-back conference titles in 1961 and 1962 under Jacobs’ replacement, also a former Sooner track and field athlete, Bill Carroll. Rest assured, though, Jacobs was still a very active coach with those OU teams.
The meet is also about honoring the present…