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A big year for OC's Greg Skipper


The Oregon City High School graduate continues tough, earning USATF All-American honors

by: RYAN KANG/EMERALD MEDIA GROUP - Wiith at least two years of athletic eligibility remaining, Greg Skipper has high aspirations as a hammer thrower for the University of Oregon. He says he believes he has a shot at the American collegiate record, held by former Duck and Olympian Ken Flax (1986), before he graduates.Greg Skipper has had quite a year in track and field.

The 2011 Oregon City High School graduate threw the hammer at the recent USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Sacramento and placed seventh, with a throw of 227-7, earning USATF All-American honors. Skipper entered the event with the 11th-best mark and wasn’t expected to make the finals.

Skipper’s performance at the USATF Outdoor Championships earned him a spot on the U.S. Under-23 Team, and he’ll represent the U.S. at the NACAC (North America, Central America, Caribbean) U-23 Championships in Kamloops, Canada, Aug. 8-10.

Skipper has also been invited to throw at a high performance meet, scheduled for the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, on Aug. 2.

As a sophomore in athletic eligibility, Skipper also had a great spring competing for the University of Oregon, helping the Ducks gain their first national championship in men’s track and field since 1984. His effort of 229-3 in the hammer at the 2014 NCAA Championships earned Skipper fourth place among collegiate athletes for the second year in a row, making him a two-time NCAA All-American.

The high finish at the 2014 NCAA Championships followed on the heals of a runner-up finish, with a hammer throw of 225-2, at the Pac 12 Championships.

Skipper’s Oregon teammates and coaches this year honored him by naming him one of three team captains for the Ducks’ men’s team. He was also honored by his team as recipient of the Dow Wilson Inspirational Award for the second year in a row. The award is made annually to the Oregon male track and field athlete “whose athletic achievements and leadership provide inspiration to his teammates.”

“For my teammates and coaches to give me these honors means a lot,” said Skipper. “I try to lead more by example than by what I say. And it shows that they’ve noticed all of the hard work that I put in.”

by: COURTESY U OF O - GREG SKIPPERIn April of this year, Skipper launched the hammer a personal best of 231-6 at a dual meet with Arizona. The mark set a meet record and moved Skipper up to No. 2 on the University of Oregon’s list of all-time best hammer throwers. Skipper trails only Ken Flax at Oregon. Flax competed in the Olympics in 1988 and 1992, and in 1986 he set an American Collegiate hammer record, at 262-6-2/5. Flax’s American Collegiate record still stands.

At the Husky Classic in February, Skipper launched the 35-pound weight 68-3, setting a new University of Oregon school record in that event. The old mark was 68-0-1/4, set by Brian Richotte in 2007. Skipper threw the 35-pound weight 67-3-1/2 at the 2014 Pac 12 Indoor Championships, placing third.

“For me, my biggest accomplish this year has been breaking the 70-meter barrier (229 feet, 8 inches) in the hammer,” Skipper said. “It’s a barrier which is a huge barrier for guys in the throwing events, and especially the hammer. Even in high school, when I used a lighter weighted hammer, I was never able to throw 70 meters. Doing it with a college weight was a big accomplishment for me.

“Winning the NCAA championship with my team was also big for me. It’s something they hadn’t done since 1984 on the men’s side. It was an awesome experience!”

Skipper placed second at the Pac 12 Outdoor Championships in 2013, with a then lifetime best throw of 222-6.

In 2011, his senior year at Oregon City High School, Skipper finished state runner-up to Barlow’s Ryan Crouser (179-1) in the discus with an effort of 165-9, and he placed third at state with an effort of 56-9-3/4 in the shot put, finishing back of Crouser (65-7-1/2) and Thurston’s Javan Cray (57-1).

Skipper left Oregon City High School as school record holder in the shot put (58-11), and second all-time in the discus (169-5-1/2). He was also the state record holder in the high school hammer (229-5). His high school hammer record still stands.

Skipper has ambitious goals.

“I’m looking at [breaking] the school [hammer] record at Oregon,” he said. “If I keep going up two meters a year, as I get a little stronger and my technique gets a little better, I think it’s a goal that I can accomplish. Right now, it’s my main goal.”

Long term, Skipper says, “I want to keep throwing after college. I’m looking at the 2016 and maybe the 2020 Olympic Trials. I think I have a decent shot at top four or top five in the U.S. in 2016.”

Skipper explained his initial attraction to the hammer as a youth: “It’s kind of following in my brother’s footsteps. My brother started throwing his freshman year and I thought it looked cool. It’s stuck with me as my favorite event. It kind of chose me....

“I like the speed and how technical it is. You have to keep striving for perfection to throw farther. That attracted me.”

A general sciences major with a focus on business and economics, Skipper is the son of former Oregon football player Scott Skipper and the nephew of Oregon five-time NCAA pole vault champion Tommy Skipper and 1992 NCAA javelin champion Art Skipper Jr.