FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Nine Ducks assured themselves a happy homecoming by finishing in the top 12 of their events at the NCAA Track and Field Preliminary Rounds, Thursday, and advancing to the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field in two weeks.
Jenna Prandini has asserted herself on the track this season, posting marks among the nation’s best in the 100 and 200, and she did the same in her third individual event, Thursday, advancing as the top qualifier from the region in the long jump.
After fouling on her first attempt, the Pac-12 Champion soared for a five-inch lifetime best of 21-4.25 (6.51m) which moved her from a tie for third, to sole possession of second on the school’s all-time list and is the third-farthest in the NCAA this season. Putting up a big mark early also gave Prandini a sizeable lead on the field and allowed her to pass the rest of her attempts.
The extra time off worked in favor of the redshirt sophomore, who was running the 100 a few hours later. Prandini ran the fastest time of the day (11.31) to advance to the quarterfinal on Friday, where she will join Marybeth Sant who ran 11.74.
Liz Brenner qualified for her second-consecutive NCAA Championships in much more dramatic fashion. Brenner unleashed a PR throw at an opportune moment after she qualified for the 16-competitor final in 15th place. With her first finals attempt, the junior launched a throw of 169-1 (51.76), her best of the season by more than eight feet. The distance moved her up 12 spots to third place as she eventually finished in a tie for fourth.
In the men’s javelin, junior Sam Crouser will make his third NCAA Championships appearance. Crouser threw 229-2 (69.85m) on his third attempt before passing on his three finals opportunities.
Each will return to Eugene as experienced NCAA Championships participants. On the other hand, there are three Oregon athletes who will be eager for the chance to contribute at their first national meet.
Brittany Mann locked up a spot in Eugene on her first throw of the day in the shot put, going 53-3 (16.23m). Entering the finals in eighth place, the redshirt freshman was able to pass on each of her final three attempts, remaining neutral in the standings by the end of the day.
Trevor Ferguson jumped out to a quick start setting a personal best in the long jump (24-11.25/7.60m) on his first attempt. The distance was good enough for 11th place and will send him onward.
Sammie Clark finished ninth in the pole vault after clearing 13-3 (4.04m), punching her ticket to the NCAA Championships.
In the only men’s track final of the day, Edward Cheserek, Parker Stinson and Trevor Dunbar each finished in the top eight of the men’s 10,000 to advance to Eugene. Cheserek closed hard in the final lap to cross the finish line in second with a time of 29:06.99. Stinson finished third (29:26.87) and Dunbar took eighth (29:35.59).
But most of Thursday’s competition on the track mirrors the greater philosophy for the regional meet – to simply advance.
The Ducks did so in numbers during the men’s 1,500 and will have four competitors in Saturday’s 1,500 quarterfinal. Mac Fleet won the first heat while Colby Alexander, Daniel Winn and Sam Prakel each qualified by finishing in the top five of their heats. Winn (3:42.95) and Prakel (3:43.69) each set personal bests in the process.
The Ducks were 3-for-3 in qualifying of the women’s 800. Laura Roesler and Annie Leblanc won their heats while Claudia Francis automatically advanced by finishing second in hers. All will compete in Friday’s quarterfinal with hopes of reaching Eugene.
Mike Berry and Boru Guyota rounded out the list of Ducks who advanced past Thursday’s races. Berry won his heat of the 400 while Guyota automatically qualified for the quarterfinal by finishing second in his heat of the 800.
Competition will resume Friday at 8 a.m. PT with the men’s hammer throw. Track events will start at 3 p.m. PT.