Former Ducks shine at Oregon Twilight
Along with members of the current Oregon track and field team, many alumni made a return to Hayward Field on Friday during the Oregon Twilight. The most notable star was Devon Allen, who was racing in his first meet since injuring his ACL for the second time.
It was only six weeks ago that Allen began hurdling again. Even though he says he never gets nervous before races, he was before this one after being out of action for so long.
The rust was evident. In the 110-meter hurdles, he finished as the runner-up to training partner Jonathan Cabral, who crossed the finish line in 13.59 seconds, slow by his standards.
Neck and neck after the final hurdle, Cabral finished just .04 seconds before Allen.
“It’s literally like every practice,” Allen said. “He’s been getting me lately.”
Although he was completely healthy at the time, and on the biggest stage of his life, Allen’s personal record is 13.03, which he ran at the Olympic trials. Yet despite that, Allen is proud of his finish at the Oregon Twilight.
“I’m really happy about my time,” he said. “13.59 is my second fastest opener ever.”
Allen will be back at Hayward for the Prefontaine Classic, but before that, he will be running in a couple meets to improve his time and work his way back from his injury.
“I’m ready to run, and I’m excited for the season,” he said. “As the season progresses, I’ll feel better and better.”
Another former Duck, Jenna Prandini, will also make another appearance at Hayward when she participates in the Pre Classic.
“I love running here. It’s my favorite place to compete in the world,” she said. “Every time I step on the track, you can always feel that Hayward magic.”
That Hayward magic was clearly working for her on Friday. She won the 100-meter in 11.29 seconds, crushing the meet record at the Oregon Twilight. Previously set in 2009, the former 11.75-second record was demolished by both Prandini and the runner-up Ashton Purvis, who finished in 11.62.
Despite that, Prandini says that she wasn’t worried about her time. Lately, she has been working on improving her start, something that she will continue to do in preparation for Pre.
“I’m really not worried about what I’m running time-wise right now,” she said. “If I get my start down and get that under control, I’m never worried about the end of my race.”
Another former Duck, Mandy White, was in the race. She finished in fourth as the last runner to reach sub-11 minutes.
As Eugene residents, competing at Oregon Twilight was a no-brainer for both Prandini and Andrew Wheating, who raced in the 800-meter for the first time in two years.
“I decided to go back to what I was good at, and what I was good at was the two lap race,” Wheating said. “The 1,500 was kind of the bonus.”
After running behind the pacer for the majority of the race, Wheating finished as the runner-up to Jesse Garn, who out-kicked him on the final straightaway. Wheating finished only .06 seconds after Garn in one minutes and 49 seconds.
“It is windy out there,” he said. “When the pacer stepped off, and I hit the back stretch it was like,” he makes a noise resembling a car screeching to a halt.
“I was like okay that’s some wind, and I’m gigantic,” said the 6-foot-6 athlete. After being pushed back by the wind, Wheating decided to jog a little and was then caught by Garn.
Wheating may also return to Hayward for the Prefontaine Classic, which takes place May 26-27.
Follow Hannah Bonnie on Twitter @hbonnie03
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