On July 28, 1954 in a Cottage Grove High School alumni/high school track meet, 1952 CGHS graduate Doyle Higdon won three events: the 100, the shot put and the javelin. His javelin toss of 197 feet was just under his throw of over 200 feet, which he accomplished during the track season as a sophomore competing for the University of Oregon. Sadly, that was to be his last athletic performance.
Just 16 days later, on Friday, Aug. 13, the affable 20-year old Higdon was killed by a dynamite blast while he was working at a summer job for a local logging company. The next Tuesday was to be his last day at work before reporting for football at Oregon.
The high school and the people of Cottage Grove thought so highly of Higdon they acted within the week of his death to establish the “Doyle Higdon Trophy,” to be given each year to a Lion senior considered to be the most outstanding student/athlete.
The University of Oregon quickly followed suit, and in May of 1955 multi-sport star Phil McHugh was the first Duck honored with what has become the Doyle Higdon Memorial Trophy. It is presented near the end of each school year to a University of Oregon sophomore athlete for achievement in athletics, scholarship and citizenship.
Such notables as Cottage Grove’s own Dyrol Burleson (1960), Steve Prefontaine (1971), Ronnie Lee (1974), Bev Smith (1980), Bill Musgrave (1989), Luke Jackson/Luke Ridnour (2002) and Tommy Skipper (2005) have been the recipients.
Doyle Higdon was an outstanding multi-sport athlete for the Lions, and he was also coming into his own for the Ducks in both football and track and field. Higdon was one of those rare student/athletes who could do everything well. In high school he played football, basketball, tennis, baseball and track and field.
In football the muscular 6-foot, 200-pounder started at fullback, where he displayed both his speed and power. In the first game of his senior year in 1951 he ran for a 65-yard touchdown against St. Francis to spark a Lion victory. He also ran back kickoffs and took one to midfield against Marshfield.A few plays later he scored from eight yards out. Higdon was one of the first off the bench on the basketball team, and in the spring he did double duty playing baseball and competing in track and field.
Higdon played catcher, arguably the most demanding position in baseball, and was good enough to receive some interest from the St. Louis Cardinals.
In track and field Higdon didn’t take it easy either. Doyle was a very unique athlete, who undoubtedly could have been a good decathlete. For the Lions he competed in the 100 and 220-yard sprints, threw the shot put and discus and long jumped. For the complete article see the 03-13-2013 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-13-2013 paper.