Three Oregon track and field alumni-turned-professional returned to Hayward Field for day one of the 2018 Prefontaine Classic on Friday night. Laura Roesler finished fifth in the women’s National 800 meters, while Eric Jenkins and Edward Cheserek finished seventh and 15th, respectively, in the men’s two-mile race.
Roesler, who won The Bowerman award in 2014, her senior year, finished in 2 minutes, 02.68 seconds, earning a season-best time. Naoya Goule took first in the women’s 800 meters, crossing the finish at 2:00.84, about seconds before Roesler.
Meanwhile in the men’s two mile, Jenkins crossed the finish in 8:23.5; Cheserek followed a little under 10 seconds later with a time of 8:31.43. Selemon Barege took first, finishing in 8:20.01.
Rounding the Bowerman Curve one last time before the Hayward renovation, Roesler sat in third with Lindsey Butterworth and Carly Muscaro on her heals. In the final 100 meters, they overtook her, finished third and fourth, respectively. Stephanie Brown took second.
During her college career with the Ducks, Roesler brought home two NCAA championship titles, in the 2012 and 2013 4×400 relays, and three Pac-12 championship titles, and even though Hayward will look much different the next time she takes the track, Roesler knows the memories there are more important the structures.
“It doesn’t change the fact of the amazing performances and it doesn’t change the history that’s happened here,” Roesler said. “I got to run Pac-12s here my sophomore year and we swept the 800 and I’m like, ‘This is always gonna be the location that we swept Pac-12s my sophomore year.’ If there were no stands here, this would still be the location that happened.”
In the men’s two-mile, Cheserek and Jenkins came around the first curve side-by-side, holding the third and fourth spots, but in a back-and-forth race with a lot of vying for position, both fell to the middle of the pack.
“I think I made a few too many moves and didn’t really hold, but it’s a good learning experience,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said he wasn’t surprised by the pushiness of the race.
“We all come out here, you hear what the pace is gonna be,” Jenkins said. “…You’re kinda gearing up to just sit and kinda hurt for a little while.”
While Cheserek was able to maintain a position towards the middle of the pack for most of the race, he started to slip towards the back in the final three laps, passing the finish for one final lap in third place. He kept that position for the rest of the race, finishing ahead of fellow Kenyans Richard Yator and Paul Kipngetich Tanui, taking 15th of 17.
Cheserek did not stop for interviews.
This is the last time Roesler, Jenkins and Cheserek will compete in the historic venue as it is now before the Hayward Field renovation, scheduled to break ground in June of this year.
Raevyn Rogers and Devon Allen, with other Oregon alumni, will take the track tomorrow for day two of the Prefontaine Classic.
Follow Sierra Webster on Twitter @WebsterSierraE