Ducks Enjoy Another Strong Day At Trials
EUGENE, Ore. – At this rate, a third U.S. championship at 200 meters is well within reach for Jenna Prandini.
Prandini, the former three-time NCAA champion for Oregon who won U.S. titles in the 200 in 2015 and 2018, ran a personal best for the second time in two days Friday to win her semifinal heat in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field. Prandini ran 21.99 on Friday, a day after running 22.14 in the first round.
Gabby Thomas was the top qualifier Thursday in 21.98, and again Friday in 21.94. Prandini had the No. 2 time each day; Saturday's final, at 7:24 p.m., will be the first time they go head-to-head in the event this week.
Allyson Felix was runner-up to Prandini in the first semifinal Friday, a race that also included NCAA champion Cambrea Sturgis among others.
"I knew I had a really stacked field," Prandini said. "I kind of wanted to get out like (Thursday) and execute the first 150. I knew I'd have to run a little farther through the line today, and just run a clean race."
After jogging the final 20 meters Thursday, Prandini didn't have it quite as easy Friday. She exploded through the turn and led the field by about five meters, before being challenged by Felix from the outside lane. For the second day in a row, though, Prandini's combination of top-end speed with an explosive start paid dividends.
"I feel really confident," Prandini said of her start. "It's something my coach and I have been working on all year, and I've been doing it really well in practice. So to come out here and have it happen in the meet is exciting."
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In addition to action in Eugene, the Ducks will have an eye on Kingston, Jamaica, where Kemba Nelson will race in the semifinals (4:25 p.m.) of the 100 meters at the Jamaican National Trials. Should she advance, the final will take place at 5:55 p.m. Nelson ran 11.05 in Thursday's first round, good for the fifth-fastest qualifier.
FOLLOW THE DUCKS
1:30 p.m. – men's long jump | qualifying
Who: Damarcus Simpson
What: Three jumps each; top 12 advance to final (6/27 – 3:45 p.m.)
Result: Former two-time Pac-12 champion Damarcus Simpson advanced to Sunday's finals by finishing in the final qualifying spot during Friday's preliminary round. Simpson, the 2018 Pac-12 field athlete of the year and a three-time all-American for the Ducks, jumped a season-best 25 feet, 9.25 inches on his second of three attempts Friday to take 12th in the prelims and advance to the final. Rayvon Grey also recorded a best mark of 25-9.25, but Simpson claimed the last spot in the finals by having a better second mark, 25-0, while Grey scratched on his other two attempts. The top qualifier, Jarrion Lawson, scratched on his first two attempts before soaring 26-7.75 on his third jump.
2:04 p.m. – men's 200 meters | first round
Who: Cravon Gillespie, Kyree King
What: Four heats; top three in each heat + next four fastest advance to semifinals (6/26 – 7:33 p.m.)
Result: Kyree King advanced to his second semifinal of this U.S. Team Trials, running 20.63 in his opening heat of the 200 meters to reach Saturday's semifinals. King, who reached the semis in the 100 earlier in the meet, took fourth in his heat to narrowly miss automatically advancing to the semis, but the next four fastest runners in the field advanced on time and King was among that quartet. Gillespie, who made the 100 final and is in the pool for the 4x100 relay for the Olympic Games, scratched in the 200.
2:33 p.m. – 110m hurdles | first round
Who: Devon Allen
What: Four heats; top three in each heat + next four fastest advance to semifinals (6/26 – 6:03 p.m.)
Result: Five years after running 13.44 in his opening round before going on to win the 2016 U.S. Team Trials in the 110 hurdles, former two-sport UO star Devon Allen got off to an even quicker start Friday by winning his first-round heat in 13.26. "I felt like I had a pretty good start," Allen said. "That's my first goal in these rounds, is to lock in the start and then just relax. And that's what I did this race — kept it smooth, stayed aggressive, stayed relaxed. Set me up well for the next rounds." Allen, who grew up in Arizona and currently trains in the humidity of Maryland, said that "for now" the heat in Eugene this weekend hasn't posed a problem. "It makes your body feel better — it's easier to warm up, takes less energy," he said. "Just gotta made sure you're hydrated."
3:00 p.m. – men's high jump | qualifying
Who: Ben Milligan
What: Two pits concurrently; top 12 advance to final (6/27 – 1:15 p.m.)
Result: Milligan cleared the opening height of 7 feet, 0.25 inches before being unable to clear 7-2.25 in three attempts. The Portland native was a two-time Pac-12 runner-up for the Ducks.
3:02 p.m. – women's 800 meters | semifinals
Who: Raevyn Rogers, Sabrina Southerland
What: Two heats; top three in each heat + next two fastest advance to final (6/27 – 4:30 p.m.)
Result: Raevyn Rogers matched her season best in Friday's 800 semifinals, running 1:59.66 to advance to Sunday's final. Rogers was in the middle of the pack with about 300 to go but worked her way through the field and finished second in her heat, as the fourth-fastest qualifier overall. "It's exactly how I planned to run it," Rogers said. "I felt really good. Even afterward, it was like a feeling of self-confidence, that I executed that plan." Rogers powered through the final few meters and now has a day off before Sunday's final. "I feel great," she said. "Of course that's gonna be a difference race, but all I can do is just prepare myself. I'm excited." Another UO alum, Sabrina Southerland, also saw her race turn with about 300 to go Friday, but unfortunately Southerland began to fall off the pace at that point and did not advance, running 2:05.61.
3:18 p.m. – men's 400m hurdles | semifinals
Who: Jonathan Harvey
What: Two heats; top three in each heat + next two fastest advance to final (6/26 – 6:35 p.m.)
Result: Jonathan Harvey capped an impressive championship season Friday by setting a UO record of 49.53 in the 400 hurdles. After tying the school record of 49.64 in the NCAA final earlier this month, Harvey advanced to Friday's semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, where he broke that record. Harvey was the ninth-fastest runner in the semifinal round, unfortunately coming up one spot short of reaching Saturday's final, but he accomplished much to be proud of in June.
4:05 p.m. – men's 1500 meters | semifinals
Who: Colby Alexander, Matthew Centrowitz, Johnny Gregorek, Cole Hocker, Sam Prakel, Jack Yearian
What: Two heats: top five in each heat + next two fastest advance to final (6/27 – 4:40 p.m.)
Result: A third of Sunday's final in the men's 1,500 meters will be Ducks, after four of the six entrants with UO ties in Friday's semifinals advanced to the final. In the opening heat, Colby Alexander stayed comfortably with the leaders throughout to advance in 3:38.71; Jack Yearian got stuck on the rail behind the lead pack at the bell and took ninth in 3:41.00. In the second heat, defending Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz took the lead with 600 to go, then held off a challenge over the final 300 from defending NCAA champion Cole Hocker, with the two exchanging a glance and a smile as they blazed through the homestretch. Centrowitz crossed first in 3:42.96 and Hocker was second in 3:43.0. The last spot in the final came down to a race between two more UO alumni, with Sam Prakel using a strong kick to claim that spot in 3:43.82, edging out Johnny Gregorek in 3:44.41.
4:25 p.m. – women's 200 meters | semifinals
Who: Jenna Prandini
What: Two heats; top three in each heat + next two fastest advance to final (6/26 – 7:24 p.m.)
Result: Prandini came into this week with a PR of 22.16 but has now beaten that twice in two days to reach Saturday's final.
4:42 p.m. – men's 3000m steeplechase | final
Who: Jackson Mestler
Result: Like Jonathan Harvey in the hurdles, Jackson Mestler capped a marvelous championship season Friday by finishing 12th in the final of the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Mestler ran 8:36.58, staying within reach of the leaders until the final lap. A native of Eugene, Mestler qualified for the Trials with a PR of 8:27.65 at a last chance meet June 13, and he automatically advanced to Friday's final with a fifth-place finish in his preliminary heat Monday, in 8:33.09.
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