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Three #ProDucks Advance To Event Finals

Jul 22, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. — Between Team USA in the sprints and throws, and the sprinters of the Jamaican women's team, sweeps have been fairly frequent the past week in the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field.

On Friday, the Oregon track and field program had a sweep of a sort to celebrate as well. Three alums of the program were in action Friday, and all three advanced to their event finals on the closing weekend of Oregon22.

Raevyn Rogers made the 800-meter final on time and will have a day to rest after her semifinal Friday evening. The women's 4x100-meter final Saturday night will feature two teams that advanced Friday with the help of Ducks: Kemba Nelson of Jamaica and Jenna Prandini of the United States.

In other action Saturday, Emmanuel Ihemeje will participate in the men's triple jump final, and Alaysha Johnson gets started with the preliminaries of the 100 hurdles. Shana Grebo is in the 4x400 relay pool for France, and Kyree King is in the U.S. men's 4x100 pool, though he did not run in Friday's preliminaries.

Rogers, the 2021 Olympics bronze medalist, had a cleaner trip around the track Friday than in Thursday's opening round of the 800. She finished third in her semifinal, the second of three on the night, and her time of 1:58.77 made her the fastest on-time qualifier for Sunday's final.

"I tried to focus on being more aggressive, being more in it," said Rogers, who was jostled twice in the final 250 of her opening round heat and had to work hard to come from behind and win that race. "I watched my race yesterday, and I just felt like I looked a little sluggish. … Today I worked on that. I really wanted to be aggressive, be in the mix, stay in position. All in all I gave my best today, and I'm happy with that."

Rogers was sixth in her semifinal at the bell, and began moving up with about 250 to go. She was comfortably in third coming off the curve and went wide to try and move up, closing the gap but being edged at the line for the second and final automatic qualifying spot of the heat by Natoya Goule of Jamaica in 1:58.73.

"Everyone's legs are feeling some type of way," Rogers said of having to dig deep in the homestretch. "You prepare for it, but at the same time it's World Championships — you gotta go through rounds. So I didn't expect anything else."

Rogers said her primary focus with a day off Saturday will be relaxation, clearing her mind for Sunday's final.

"Also, recovery is important," she acknowledged. "But tomorrow I'm going to use as a day for me just to get everything back at ease for my own mental."

While Rogers rests up, Prandini and Nelson will look to win medals with their respective 4x100 teams.

Prandini, who was edged out of the 200-meter final by the thinnest of margins, was in world-class form in her return to the track Friday. Running the third leg for Team USA, Prandini was in her familiar stretch of track — the curve on the north end of Hayward Field — and she burned it up.

Team USA had a lead of 0.23 seconds through 200 meters, and that lead was 0.66 seconds at 300 meters as Prandini helped extend it by nearly half a second. She ran the third leg in 10.36 seconds, two-tenths faster than anyone else in the heat on that leg.

"I've run the curve since college, so it's something that I'm very comfortable with," said Prandini, who helped the U.S. quartet clock a world-leading time of 41.56 to win their heat. "I love running the curve. To come out here and do it with this squad, and do it at Hayward, it's really fun."

Prandini's handoff to Twanisha Terry was a bit awkward, as Prandini at one point had two hands on the baton to ensure Terry had it secured. But Prandini didn't express much concern going forward.

"We moved in a little bit, just to make sure we got the stick around," she said. "We had relay camp and our sticks have been really, really amazing. Our chemistry is great. So I'm really excited for tomorrow."

Prandini said she was "pretty disappointed" after narrowly missing out on the 200 final, but had to "shake it off and get ready, because we have big goals as a 4x1 (team) as well." Nelson could relate, as she flushed the frustration of not making the 100 final to help Jamaica advance Friday in the 4x100, running the anchor as they took second in their heat in 42.37.

"Track should be, you know, short-term memory," Nelson said. "Semifinal is not what I wanted. But I had to put it behind me, and do it for the team. On to the next — get the stick around and get to the final. That was the goal."