Photos: Oregon hosts the Twilight Invitational meet

Former Oregon sprinter Jenna Prandini races in the 100m. The Oregon Ducks host the Oregon Twilight Invitational meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. on May 5, 2017. (Adam Eberhardt/Emerald)

A slew of sixteen past and present University of Oregon athletes competed at Hayward Field on day eight of the Olympic Trials.

Former Ducks Jenna Prandini, Devon Allen and Raevyn Rogers stood out during Friday’s events in the women’s 200-meter semifinals, men’s 110-meter hurdles first round and women’s 800-meter semifinals.   

Prandini qualified for the finals in the women’s 200-meters in an impressive manner. The eight-time all-American won the first heat, finishing .01 seconds ahead of Allyson Felix. 

Prandini, a Puma-sponsored athlete, burst out of the fifth lane, taking a massive lead and didn’t look back. She posted a personal best of 21.99 seconds, which was the second-best overall time for the day's event. 

“I feel really confident about my starts,” Prandini said. “It’s something that my coach and I have been working on all year and I’ve been doing it really well in practice so to be able to come out here and have it in the meet is exciting.”

After winning the Olympic trials finals in 2016 as a recent graduate of the University of Oregon, Allen returned to Hayward Field looking to protect that crown.  

Allen, who was a two-sport athlete during his time as a Duck, playing football as well, started out strong as he clocked in at 13.26 seconds in the opening round; .18 seconds faster than his championship time in 2016. 

“I came out aggressive and stayed relaxed which set me up which set me up well for the next couple of rounds,” Allen said. “I got a big home-field advantage… I get a lot of love and it makes me feel appreciated before every race.”

DeMarcus Simpson was the first Duck to compete on Friday, taking the field  in the men’s long jump at 1:30 p.m. Simpson, a two-time Pac-12 champion, snuck into the finals earning the final qualifying spot. On his second attempt, the three-time all-American jumped a season best 25 feet and 9.25 inches. 

Simpson finished 12th and will compete in the men’s long jump finals on Sunday. 

Cravon Gillespie and Kyree King competed in the first round of the 200-meter event looking to earn a spot on the U.S team. King had already reached the semis for the 100-meter and he showed out once again, posting a 20.63 in the opening heat of the 200-meter to place fourth and advance to the semis. 

Gillespie, on the other hand, scratched in the 200-meter and failed to advance. 

Recent graduate, Ben Milligan, narrowly missed out on progressing from the qualifying rounds of the men’s high jump as he placed 13th in a field where the top 12 competitors moved on. 

Rogers was honored in her return to Hayward Field as the Ducks placed her image on the tower by the stadium’s entrance.

The former 2017 Bowerman Award Winner and eight-time all-American placed second in the second heat of the women’s 800-meter semifinals. Rogers finished .17 seconds behind the heat’s leader, Ajee’ Wilson, at 1:59.66. She will compete in the women’s 800-meter final on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. 

As Rogers prepared for the finals, she opened up about a year filled with numerous mental battles. Rogers began her season by fasting to alter her mindset and strengthen her relationship with God because she felt that would lead to the best results for her on and off the track. 

“Now I know something great is coming,” Rogers said. “My resources are strong, my faith is strong, and my family is strong and all of that has been helping me stay focused.” 

Sabrina Southerland’s return ended today as the three-time all-American failed to qualify for the finals after placing seventh in the second heat of the 800-meter semifinal. 

Jonathan Harvey had a bittersweet showing in today’s 400-meter men’s semifinal as well. Harvey missed out on advancing to the finals as he placed ninth in the field where only eight competitors advanced to the finals. 

However, Harvey made history posting a University of Oregon record of 49.53 during Friday’s events taking down his past record of 49.64 in the NCAA Finals in early June. 

The men’s 1500-meter semifinals was filled with six past and present Oregon athletes. Colby Alexander topped the field of Ducks as he finished third in the first heat at 3:38.71. Matthew Centrowitz and Cole Hocker also qualified for the finals as they finished first and second in the second heat finishing at 3:42.96 and 3:43 respectively. 

Sam Prakel finished fifth in the second heat and also qualified for the finals, but Johnny Gregorek and Jack Yearian ended their Olympic trial campaigns Friday as they failed to qualify. 

Jackson Mestler highlighted the heavily-anticipated steeplechase final as the recent graduate prepared to take on the most elite opponents in his field. Mestler stood by, waiting and watching fifteen other Ducks compete because his final took place three hours into today’s events.

Mestler placed 12th in the final, capping off an impressive day for the Ducks athletes at Hayward Field. 

Aaron Heisen is a writer from Venice Beach, California. He enjoys covering Oregon sports including basketball, football, baseball and softball. When he’s not writing, he’s playing basketball, reading, watching movies, or spending time with his family.