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Ducks Burn Up Track At Nationals

Jun 24, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. — One of Oregon's star sprinters posted a top-three finish at a national championship meet Friday, and another came painfully close.

On the same day the Ducks' all-American in the women's 100 meters, Kemba Nelson, made her case to compete for Jamaica at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene come July, men's 100-meter all-American Micah Williams finished fourth Friday in the USATF Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field. Williams ran 9.90 seconds, one one-hundredth faster than his time while finishing fifth a year earlier in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

But though Williams ran a tick faster and finished a place higher this time around, the top three finishers Friday qualified for the U.S. team for Worlds. Fourth place, then, was a bitter pill.

"Getting fourth hurts," Williams said. "I wanted to get top three. That was the ultimate goal. I just know I belong, so this hurts. This hurts real bad."

Another recent all-American for the Ducks, Kyree King, ran a personal best of 9.96 in Friday's final to finish sixth. King will be back in action Saturday when competition in the 200 begins.

On the heels on her NCAA runner-up showing two weeks earlier, Nelson kept the momentum going with a second-place finish at the Jamaican Championships. Nelson crossed the finish line in an Oregon school-record time of 10.88, capping a trio of sub-11 performances at the national meet. She posted identical times of 10.98 in the first round Thursday and again in Friday afternoon's semifinal.

In the women's semifinals of the 100 meters Friday at Hayward Field, UO legend Jenna Prandini was fifth in her heat in 11.00 seconds. That put her on the bubble to advance on time, but she was bumped from the final by competitors in the second heat.

Two of the three UO alums in the semifinals for the women's 800 made it through to Sunday's final. Raevyn Rogers took second in her heat in a comfortable 2:01.15, and the second heat saw Brooke Feldmeier run 1:59.44 to advance on time; Sabrina Southerland was sixth in that heat in 1:59.70 and did not advance.

Rogers, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, took the lead early in her heat, settled into second at the bell and then pushed back into the lead coming off the final turn. After keeping clear of traffic most of the race, she finally eased up as Ajee Wilson took first in the heat.

"You have to treat the semis like the final," Rogers said. "You could let up just a little bit and anybody could get you. I wanted to go out there like, race plan, we have it, but at the end of the day I have to run this like it's the final. Once I had the position I was just like, let me get to the finish line. I don't care what happens, as long as I make it."

Feldmeier had two reasons to celebrate Friday. Not only did she make Sunday's final, but her performance Friday was a personal best of 1:59.44, just under the qualifying standard for Worlds of 1:59.50.

Injured earlier this spring, Feldmeier is seeing her season click just at the right time.

"Literally 10 days ago I ran 2:03 and I was like, man, I think it's there but it's not looking good," Feldmeier said. "So to come out and run 1:59 today … Honestly (today) was just about getting through, so when I saw the time I was like, wow, that's great. I'm just really excited."

The Oregon track and field program also had an alum advance in the women's 100 hurdles. Alaysha Johnson continued her breakout season that included a new PR of 12.40 earlier in June by winning her heat Friday in 12.41 seconds.

"I wanted it to be 'survive and advance,' but I'm just too much of a competitor," Johnson said. "Every time I go out there I just want to win, beat everybody. So it was supposed to be survive and advance, and I did that — probably a little bit faster than I needed to."

Johnson is currently running without a sponsor, something that seems likely to change if she continues running at her current level.

"I have a huge chip on my shoulder," said the 2017 Pac-12 champion, who was running for the first time at the reimagined Hayward Field. "I'm racing to prove myself to everybody, and the one thing I want to leave on this track is for people to remember me for my resilience. There's been a lot of times I could've given up — it would have been easier to do that — and I didn't."

In the men's long jump Friday, Demarcus Simpson posted a season best of 26 feet, 2.25 inches on his third attempt to leap from 10th to sixth and make the finals. That mark ended up being his best of the day, good for an eighth-place finish.

In competition during the concurrent USATF U20 Outdoor Championships, also held at Hayward Field, incoming UO freshman Lily Jones reached the final of the 100 meters and took sixth in a wind-aided 11.37 seconds. Earlier she advanced to the final with a preliminary round time of 11.41 seconds.

At the 2022 Bell Canadian Championships, rising sophomore Ella Clayton (54.83) was the top qualifier in the preliminary heats of the U20 women's 400 meters. The final is set to go off Saturday at 6:35 p.m. at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley, British Columbia. Clayton, a native of Calgary, established a lifetime best of 52.04 in a fourth-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships in May.

Matthew Erickson, having just completed his freshman season at Oregon, began his weekend at the Canadian Championships with an advancing effort in the U20 men's 1500 meters. Erickson (4:00.09) won heat one of two to ease into Saturday morning's final scheduled for 11:50 a.m. The Nelson, B.C., native is also entered in the U20 800 meters which begins Saturday evening.

Jillian Weir, a 2021 Olympian for Canada in the hammer, steps into the ring Saturday at 6:15 p.m. looking to secure a spot on the World team.
 
MEN
100 Meters | Final
4. Micah Williams - 9.90
6. Kyree King - 9.96 (PB)
 
100 Meters | Semifinals
5. Micah Williams - 9.94q
8. Kyree King - 9.99Q
 
Long Jump
8. Damarcus Simpson - 7.98m/26-2.25 (SB)
 
WOMEN
100 Meters | Semifinal
11. Jenna Prandini - 11.00
 
100 Meters - U20 | Final
6. Lily Jones - 11.37w (+2.7)
 
100 Meters - U20 | First Round
5. Lily Jones - 11.41q
 
800 Meters | Semifinals
5. Brooke Feldmeier - 1:59.44q (PB)
6. Sabrina Southerland - 1:59.70
9. Raevyn Rogers - 2:01.15Q
 
100m Hurdles | First Round
1. Alaysha Johnson - 12.41Q