Hull Seventh In 1,500 Final
EUGENE, Ore. — Fans at Hayward Field on hand to support UO alumni were back in a celebratory mood Monday night.
A day after the disappointment of Devon Allen's disqualification, the World Athletics Championships gave Oregon fans two highlight moments Monday. Jessica Hull, the 2018 NCAA Outdoor champion at 1,500 meters while running for the Ducks, finished seventh in that event final at Oregon22. And Jenna Prandini, a two-time NCAA champion for the Ducks, opened competition in the 200 meters with a very relaxed performance in her first-round heat.
Hull finished 13th in the 2019 World Championships in Doha, and 12th in the 2021 Olympic final. She took a big step forward Monday, breaking into the top 10 with a seventh-place finish in 4:01.82.
How, Hull was asked, does it sound to be the seventh-fastest woman in the world at 1,500 meters?
"It sounds pretty damn good, yeah," said Hull, the national record-holder for Australia. "Seventh place, here at Hayward, it's a big step from Tokyo, where I was off the back with 600 to go. Today I was in the mix at the bell, amongst the top eight … I'm pretty proud of that."
Prandini led her 200 heat off the curve before easing up and crossing in 22.38, taking second in her heat to qualify automatically for Tuesday's semifinals. Hull also has work left to do, as she's entered in the opening round of the 5,000 on Wednesday.
Monday's 1,500 final saw tactics thrown out the window 300 meters in, when Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopa and Faith Kipyegon of Kenya led a breakaway group of four women who opened up a gap of several meters on the rest of the pack. Hull and her training partner, Sinclair Johnson of Team USA, could only watch that quartet gain separation as they ran the first 400 meters at a scorching pace.
"Both of our race plan was, whatever they do, you're ready," Hull said. "But I don't know that we ever considered they'd go out in 55. We thought, like, 61 would be aggressive. So when they got six seconds on us in the first 400, it's pretty wild."
Still, Hull kept her cool and settled in behind the leaders of the second pack. Afterward, she thought she had enough left in the tank that starting her kick earlier might have resulted in finishing a place or two higher. But there was pride in the result regardless.
"It shows progress, which is the coolest thing in this sport," Hull said. "It might not look like a medal, but it's often delayed gratification. So to see myself improve since Tokyo — in Tokyo I was like four or five seconds slower in the final than I was in the semis, whereas tonight I matched what I did in my semi and I got a top-eight finish. So I'm just getting more consistent. And with consistency comes big improvements."
The next step in her training? Perhaps preparing for fast starts like the one Monday from the group that included Kipyegon, the eventual winner in 3:52.96.
"(To go out in) 55 seconds, that's just unbelievable," Hull said. "I think it's turning into the 800, I don't know. Like, my fastest 400 is not 55. So I'll have to talk to (my coach) and see, how do we keep tackling these women? I want to be able to contend for medals, and if that means I've got to be ready to go out in sub-60 and not die, then we need to practice that. …
"The beauty is, Sinclair and I are sixth and seventh in the world, and we're 24, 25. We've got another five, six years to master that aggressive start and put ourselves right in it."
Prandini had the opposite experience on the track in her 200 heat, getting out to a blistering start and then easing up to conserve for potentially two more rounds of the event. Semifinals begin Tuesday at 6:05 p.m., and the final is scheduled for Thursday at 7:35 p.m.
"I came off the curve and I felt really relaxed and confident," said Prandini, who was second in her heat to Favour Ofili of Nigeria. "I felt good on the straight. I felt her come up on me but, no use fighting right now."
Prandini, the 2014 NCAA champion outdoors in the long jump and 2015 Outdoor champ in the 100, returned to Eugene late last week with the goal of winning a medal.
"I'm in the best shape of my life," she said. "If I can go out there and execute how I do every day in practice, I think I should be happy with the result."