After years of preparation the city of Eugene, its streets adorned with TrackTown USA banners, opened Hayward Field for the event it’s been preparing for, for the past few years. A slew of Ducks, past and present, returned to Hayward Field on Friday for the opening day of the Olympic Trials.
Three former Ducks entered the first round of the women's 100 meters. Two left with a ticket to Saturday’s semifinals. English Gardner and Jenna Prandini finished in the top three of their respective heats as Prandini — the former five-time NCAA champion — finished second with a time of 11.22 seconds while Gardner, the 2016 4x100 relay gold medalist finished in third in her’s at 11.17.
"The ultimate goal is to survive and advance, get through and get to the semis, and I did that," Prandini said.
She added: "I'm really confident in my top-end speed, and closing at the end. As long as I'm out and within reach, I'm really confident in what I can do at the end."
Current Oregon redshirt senior Kiana Phelps opened the day in the women’s discus. In her three throws, Phelps threw 175 feet, 6 inches, 174-11 and scratched once. After setting a personal best in order to qualify for Friday’s competition, Phelps failed to move on to the semifinals.
Shortly after, in the women’s 400 meters, Phyllis Francis, a member of the 2016 gold medal-winning 4x400 relay, finished fourth in her heat at 51.34 seconds. While she didn’t automatically qualify, her season-best 51.34 helped her advance to Saturday.
Marcus Chambers, a three-time NCAA Outdoor championships finalist in the 400 meters at Oregon, ran a 46.30 in the men’s 400 meters, ultimately failing to qualify for Saturday.
Later in the evening, Oregon sophomore Dominique Ruotolo grasped at semifinal qualification, only to miss out in heartbreaking fashion. With jumps of 42-3.25 to 42-6.25 to 42-11.5, Ruotolo improved jump by jump but finished 13th, falling one short of the qualifying 12.
As day one of the trials came to a close, Eric Jenkins and Galen Rupp took the track for the men’s 10,000 meters. Rupp stepped into Hayward having already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the marathon and finished sixth in Friday’s race with a time of 27:59.43. Jenkins did not finish, stepping off the track after 7,200 meters.
Day two of the Trials kicks off at 1 p.m. on Saturday as the men’s decathlon begins with the 100-meter.