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SCORESHEET/Seahawks QB Wilson's involvement just part of drive to bring MLB to Portland

The NCAA Division I track and field championships are Wednesday through Saturday at Hayward Field, the sixth year in a row the meet has been in Eugene.

The men's competition is on Wednesday and Friday, with the women competing Thursday and Saturday.

The Oregon women are aiming to repeat their dramatic national title of last spring, when they edged Georgia. But Georgia is the team to beat this year. The Bulldogs' strength is in the field, where Tatiana Gusin (high jump), Keturah Orja (long jump, triple jump) top the form chart.

Ducks high on the list are senior Sabrina Southerland (ranked first in the 800 meters), sophomore Makenzie Dunmore (second in the 400) and sophomore Jessica Hull (third in the 1,500).

The Oregon women have the second-fastest time this season in the 4x400 relay and are fourth in the 4x100 relay.COOK

Oregon's Chaquinn Cook, from Benson High, ranks sixth in the triple jump.

Oregon and USC have the most entries in the women's meet with 19 apiece. 

University of Portland junior Taryn Rawlings has qualified in the women's 1,500.

Oregon State has one entry, junior Destiny Dawson in the javelin.

Florida's men are favored to win a third consecutive championship. The Gators feature sophomore Grant Holloway and senior KeAndre Bates. Holloway is the defending champion in the 110 hurdles and last season's long jump runner-up. Bates is the defending champ in the long and triple jumps.

The Oregon men have 11 entries and are projected to compete for a top-10 finish. The Ducks' last national championship came in 2015.

Among Ducks to watch is senior Damarcus Simpson, who has the nation's top long jump mark. Senior Sam Prakel has the third-best time in the 1,500. Junior Cravon Gillespie has top-10 times in the 100 and 200. Sophomore Braxton Canaday is the Pac-12 champion in the 110 hurdles. Junior Ben Milligan (high jump) and junior John Nizich (a javelin thrower from Central Catholic High) also are ranked among the top 10.

UP senior Matt Welch has qualified for the 10,000.

• With all due respect to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and wife Ciara, their investment in an MLB-to-Portland group doesn't suddenly legitimize the effort or put it over the top. While it's nice to have their celebrity status and name recognition, and having them aboard gets a lot of press, the Portland Diamond Project already was well underway, organized and on target.

The campaign, sources say, has been more than adequately supported with heavy hitters since it began. Much bigger-pocketed owners are set to dominate the enormous funding needed — once Commissioner Rob Manfred pushes through what seems to be his burning desire to expand, or if a struggling team wants to move here.

With all those forces already at work, the crusade was making its way around the base paths even before the Wilsons emerged and Mayor Ted Wheeler suddenly said he is intrigued by the prospect of MLB in Portland.

Paul Allen and the Trail Blazers might have been able to prevent all of this had they acquired an NHL franchise in recent years, but the Portland basketball/Seattle football owner has always said no and professed little interest in hockey. Barring a sudden and dramatic change, the Blazers are likely, in a few years, to have their first real competition for major league sports dollars.

The NBA is riding high at the moment, though, and Portland has grown to where it should be able to support two big-league teams (plus the MLS Timbers and Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League, who have their committed followers).

Wilson, meanwhile, has positioned himself to one-up teammate Jon Ryan, a part-owner of the Portland Pickles summer wood-bat baseball team. Of course, a star quarterback's income is a little more than that of a punter.

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