Three #ProDucks advance to event finals

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EUGENE, Oré. — Between Team USA in the men’s sprints and women’s throws, and the Jamaican women’s team sprinters, there were plenty of sweeps last week at the World Championships in Athletics at Hayward Field.

On Friday, the Oregon athletics program also had something of a sweep to celebrate. Three program alumni were in action on Friday, and all three advanced to their event finals on the closing weekend of Oregon22.

Raevyn Rogers made the 800 meters final on time and will have a day to rest after her semi-final on Friday night. Saturday night’s women’s 4×100-meter final will feature two teams that qualified Friday with help from the Ducks: Kemba Nelson from Jamaica and Jenna Prandini from the United States.

In another action on Saturday, Emmanuel Ihemeje will compete in the men’s triple jump final, and Alaysha Johnson will enter the 100 hurdles preliminaries. Shana Grebo is in the 4×400 relay pool for France, and Kyree King is in the US men’s 4×100 pool, although he didn’t compete in Friday’s preliminaries.

Rogers, a bronze medalist at the 2021 Olympics, had a cleaner lap on Friday than in the opening run of the 800 on Thursday. She finished third in her semi-final, the second of three on the evening, and her time of 1:58.77 made her the fastest qualifier for Sunday’s final.

“I tried to focus on being more aggressive, being more in it,” said Rogers, who was bumped twice in the final 250 of her opening round and had to work hard to come back from behind and win this race. “I watched my race yesterday, and I just felt like I looked a little slow. … Today I worked on that. I really wanted to be aggressive, to be in the mix , stay in position. Overall, I did my best today, and I’m happy with that.”

Rogers finished sixth in his semifinal at the bell and started to progress with around 250 to go. She was comfortably third coming out of the curve and went wide to try to come back, closing the gap but being edged out to the line for the second and final automatic qualifying spot of the heat by Jamaica’s Natoya Goule in 1: 58.73.

Raevyn Rogers, 800m - Semi-final WCHOOregon22

“Everyone’s legs feel some kind of way,” Rogers said of having to dig deep down the home stretch. “You prepare for it, but at the same time it’s the World Championships – you have to go through heats. So I didn’t expect anything else.”

Rogers said his main goal with the day off Saturday will be relaxation, clearing his mind for Sunday’s final.

“Also, recovery is important,” she acknowledged. “But tomorrow I’m going to use as a day for me just to get everything comfortable for my own mind.”

Raevyn Rogers, 800m - Semi-final WCHOOregon22

While Rogers rests, Prandini and Nelson will be looking to win medals with their respective 4x100m teams.

Prandini, who edged out of the 200m final by the slimmest of margins, was in world-class form when she returned to the track on Friday. Running the third leg for Team USA, Prandini was in her familiar stretch of track – the curve at the north end of Hayward Field – and she burned it.

Team USA had a 0.23 second lead over 200 yards, and that lead was 0.66 seconds over 300 yards as Prandini helped extend it by nearly half a second. She ran the third stage in 10.36 seconds, two tenths faster than anyone else in the heat on this stage.

“I’ve run the curve since college, so it’s something I’m very comfortable with,” said Prandini, who helped the American quartet clock a record time of 41.56 to win his sleeve. “I love racing the curve. To come here and do it with this team, and do it at Hayward, it’s really fun.”

Prandini’s transfer to Twanisha Terry was a bit awkward, as Prandini at one point had two hands on the stick to make sure Terry had secured it. But Prandini did not express much concern about the future.

“We moved in a bit, just to make sure we got the stick,” she said. “We had a relay camp and our sticks were really, really amazing. Our chemistry is great. So I’m really excited for tomorrow.”

Prandini said she was “quite disappointed” after narrowly missing out on the 200m final, but needed to “shake up and get ready because we have big goals as a 4×1 team as well”. Nelson could understand, as she washed away the frustration of not making the 100m final to help Jamaica advance in the 4x100m on Friday, running anchor as she took second place in her heat in 42.37.

“The trail should be, you know, short-term memory,” Nelson said. “The semi-final is not what I wanted. But I had to put it behind me and do it for the team. Let’s move on to the next one – take the stick and go to the final. That was the goal.”

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