Homecoming Queens Thrive At Oregon22
EUGENE, Ore. — Athletes who contributed to some of historic Hayward Field's biggest highlights prior to the facility's renovation were in action Friday to kick off the reason behind the reimagining of track and field's home in the United States, the World Athletics Championships.
Both Jillian Weir, an all-American hammer thrower for the 2015 Oregon team that swept men's and women's NCAA Outdoor titles at Hayward Field, and Jessica Hull, who won the 1,500 meters at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor meet just prior to the renovation, advanced through their opening rounds Friday on the opening day of Oregon22 competition. Hull advanced to the 1,500-meter semifinals Saturday evening, a day of action that will be packed with UO track and field alumni.
Devon Allen begins his quest for a 110-meter hurdles title with his opening heat during Saturday's morning session. The evening session will include Hull's 1,500 semifinal, Kemba Nelson in a women's 100 heat, and both Cooper Teare and Johnny Gregorek in heats of the men's 1,500.
Tristan James was the third Ducks alum in action Friday, and did not advance to Saturday's long jump final. Weir will have a day off Saturday before competing in the hammer throw finals Sunday.
Weir was the first UO alum in action at Oregon22, making her first appearance at Hayward Field since a fourth-place finish in those 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The competitor for Canada hadn't even visited Eugene since 2017, prior to Hayward Field's renovation, but she made an emphatic return Friday by throwing 72.0 meters on her second attempt, or 236 feet, 2 inches.
The 2021 Olympian saw that mark hold up for ninth in the field, with the top 12 advancing to Sunday's final.
"Coming in I wanted to make the final; I finished 19th in Tokyo so already to be in the top 12 is definitely good," Weir said. "To move on to that top eight and try to contend for a medal and get in there is good.
"I try to remind myself, you know what, hey, you made Tokyo — you've been here, done that, and this is just another meet. It's fun that I've competed against a lot of these girls before. So, just trying to go into it level-headed and try to keep calm."
Weir said she had to contend with some nerves on her opening attempt Friday, which sailed down the right side of the sector and ended up at 69.04 meters, or 226-6. Her second attempt was right down the middle of the sector, and put her comfortably into the final.
"I knew it was definitely better," Weir said. "And I still feel like there's a lot more there."
Hull also had to contend with some nerves Friday, before her first of potentially five races at this championships. She's also entered in the 5,000 meters.
Determined not to get boxed in and lose track position in her heat, Hull started from the outside of the field and shot to the front of the pack, being mindful of staying outside of any traffic. She ran in the top four throughout her heat and finishing second in 4:04.68, behind only Faith Kipyegon, the reigning Olympic champion.
"The first one is always the nerve-wracking one," said Hull, who flashed the Oregon "O" when she was introduced in the field. "I got to get out there, I got to feel the track, I got to feel the welcome home. So I think I'm going to be better for it tomorrow for having done it. I've got a big program this week so, just trying to enjoy it as much as I can but also try and not get too high or too low. Just manage the emotions."
Hull made her World Athletics Championships debut at Doha in 2019, and reached the Olympic final in Tokyo. That experience helped her devise and stick to the plan that kept her out of traffic Friday, and will help her navigate the potentially busy schedule over the coming days.
"At this point, I kind of know what to expect and I understand the flow of the meet, which is cool," Hull said. "And I think I kind of have felt that all week leading into this week. Just not being too like starstruck. I know my routine for the next 10 days and just being really comforted by that."
James is in the process of banking the kind of experience Hull enjoys at this point. The 2019 Pac-12 long jump champion, James is a Salem native who is competing internationally for Dominica. He had a best attempt of 7.72 meters, or 25 feet, 4 inches, placing 24th in the the preliminary rounds field.
"This being my first World Championships, I felt like I did mentally handle it well," James said. "I feel like God prepared me for this moment. And this is home for me. I grew up an hour up the road; I went to school here; I won the Pac-12 title here. So this was home. I was really excited to get to come home and get to come here."
James said he took off on his second attempt 23 centimeters short of the board; add that distance to his jump and James would have had a mark of 7.95, good enough to get him into the final.
A devout Christian who has scripture tattooed on his arm, James has faith he'll get back on this stage again.
"Jesus created me to long jump, I believe," James said. "So we're gonna try to do this for the next eight to 10 years, God willing."
Friday, July 15 | UO Results
Long Jump - qualification
24. Tristan James - 7.72m/25-4
1500 Meters - heats
9. Jessica Hull - 4:04.68q
Hammer - qualification
9. Jillian Weir - 72.00m/236-2q
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