Ageless Athletes: Steven McChesney

By Ray Flint
Published: December 2010

South’s Girls’ Cross Country and Track and Field coach, Steven McChesney, is more than just a coach; he is a world-class athlete. He has not only been nationally recognized for his accomplishments as a coach, but he has also been recognized internationally for setting world records as a competitive runner.
McChesney comes from a family of runners; all three of his brothers were All-Americans who won National titles in college, and both his parents have won National titles as masters, who are runners over the age of 40. McChesney’s brother Bill made the Olympic team and still holds the American College 5K record for American born athletes.
Prior to coaching at South, McChesney worked at two different schools in Oregon. He began coaching at Churchill High School, where he worked for two years. During his time there, his team won the district every year and took third in the state during one year. He also coached two state champions while there.
Then he moved on to coach at his own high school, South Eugene High School, for another six years. “We won all six Cross Country district titles and also won States three times, McChesney said.
After his stint at South Eugene High School ended 20 years ago, McChesney joined the South community.
In his 60 seasons as a coach at South, the program has produced 42 All-American runners, 13 individual All-State champions, and two National champions.
For McChesney, high school began at tenth grade. He wrestled for the high school team from seventh grade to ninth grade, however, and held a flawless 33-0 record for his weight class during that time.
Upon entering high school, he decided to devote all of his attention to Cross Country and Track and Field.
McChesney went to the University of Oregon from 1975 to 1979. He ran on the Oregon Cross Country teams that won two Pac-8 titles and won the NCAA Division-I title one year and placed second the next.
After college McChesney was able to pursue his passion for running by running professionally for several years. “The best part of that was the travel, McChesney said. “I got my way paid to races all over the country, as well as to Japan and Europe. That was a blast.
McChesney ran a 5K in 23:11, and a half marathon in 1:05:12. “My marathon best would place in the top ten in Boston most years, McChesney said.
McChesney didn’t return to competitive running until he was 40, when he began running as a master runner. Three years later he ran the 3,000-meter race in 8:54, which was the fastest time in the nation for the over 40 age group.
“Then I broke my ankle, had twins with my wife, and let myself get heavy and out of shape. This summer I have returned to training and it was really tough, McChesney said. “I would run with my younger brother, who has lost two lobes of one lung, and I could not keep up with him. Now I can run 6 miles comfortablely in the 6:30 per mile range, so I am improving.
McChesney plans to condition himself, and get back into shape in order to compete at the national level for his age group.
“I will turn 55 this summer and I hope to run [under] 5:00 for the mile so I can medal at Nationals, he said. “I have no idea how that will go, as I was removed from this level for about five years, but I have a goal just like my teams do and I will work towards it.
Presently, McChesney is adhering to a rigid running schedule. “I run six days a week right now and about four to five miles a day. I hope to work up to an average of about seven miles a day, McChesney said.
He also aims to run for 12 miles by the end of the year. In order to accomplish these goals, McChesney works out two times a week with a track club.
Not only does he enjoy competing, but McChesney also likes to watch others compete. “I love Track and Field, as each event has a beauty of its own, he said. “It has all of the elements of speed and strength and the hurdles, jumps, and vault are amazing to watch at the top levels. My Oregon Ducks have been national champs again recently and that is fun to follow.
Just watching sports isn’t enough for McChesney, however, and he has been working his way back onto the competitive scene.
While he tries to get back into gear, he is working at South as a gifted, amazing coach, and continues to help runners achieve what they may not have known was possible.

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