Six athletes with Oregon ties qualify for women’s 100 meter semifinal
Members of the University of Oregon women’s sprinting unit are adamant that they want Oregon to be recognized as more than just a distance running school. Oregon has produced four NCAA outdoor champions in the 100- and 200-meter events in the past four years, but to some, Oregon still isn’t considered an elite sprinting program.
On Saturday, the Ducks current runners and alumnus may have finally made their message clear.
Six different runners with Oregon ties navigated their way through the preliminary round of the U.S. Olympic Trials 100-meter dash and punched their tickets to the semifinals at Hayward Field Saturday afternoon.
Over a quarter of the 21 total women who qualified were either current Ducks or former Ducks.
“It’s fun,” said Jenna Prandini, a Puma sprinter who turned pro after winning the 100-meter title for Oregon in 2015. “It’s like a reunion when we’re in the call room. We’re all talking to each other and making sure we’re relaxed.”
Prandini finished in 10.81 seconds to clinch the fastest overall qualifying time, and former Oregon standout English Gardner, who now runs with Nike, finished in 10.90 seconds for the second fastest time.
Oregon freshman Ariana Washington, fresh off a dazzling NCAA Championship debut in which she swept the 100 and 200, finished with the seventh fastest qualifying time at 11.01. It was a lifetime best for Washington.
“My goal was just to go out there and try to get my jitters out,” Washington said. “Just have fun with it and get through to tomorrow. Goal accomplished.”
Brand Jordan athlete Mandy White, a two-time All-American at Oregon who last competed for the Ducks during the 2010-11 season, posted the 11th fastest preliminary time (11.11) and qualified despite finishing fourth in her heat.
Oregon’s Deajah Stevens earned the 15th qualifying spot in a time of 11.18 seconds. Stevens was the runner-up to Washington in the NCAA 200-meter championship.
Jasmine Todd earned the 21st and final qualifying spot, finishing in 11.26 seconds to edge her way into the semifinals. Todd owned the fifth fastest American time this season entering the meet, but on Saturday, she took three attempts in the long jump final before rushing to the starting blocks for the 100.
The long jump began at 11:45 a.m. and the 100 started only 48 minutes later.
“I literally did my last jump and then it was heat five of the hundred,” Todd said. “And then I went over to heat six. It was kind of a rushed thing, but I mean it happens and you get used to it doing the duo.”
“Definitely not the first rodeo having to do both, but I was definitely in a lot better shape than I am this year.
Todd was a five time All-American at Oregon and was expected to earn points for the Ducks at this year’s NCAA Championship meet, but her Oregon career was halted early due to an an academic misunderstanding.
Todd wore University of Oregon gear during the opening day on Friday, but chose not to on Saturday.
“Yesterday was the last time that I will be wearing the Oregon uniform,” Todd said. “I asked coach Johnson if I was able to wear it and he allowed me to wear the uniform one last time. It kind of ended in the right way.”
Todd said she is leaning towards turning pro at this point, but did not rule out the possibility of returning to Oregon for her senior season.
“There are so many things that could happen, and I mean, if I change my mind, who wouldn’t want to be a Duck again?” Todd said.
With all six Oregon athletes finding their way to the semifinals, they will now focus their efforts on navigating through one more round of qualifiers and then possibly turn around to run the final in the same day.
The semifinal starts at 4:02 p.m. Sunday, and the final will follow at 5:44 p.m.
“It’s gonna be a tough one,” Gardner said. “I remember last semis, I had to drop a 10.79 to beat Jenna Prandini … The times I’m running in practice, I’ve never ran in my life. There’s something in there. I don’t know what it is but I’m telling you, if I run the right way, you’ll see something special.”
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