Pac-12 Champions Advance on Day One of Trials

EUGENE, Ore. – Before Jadyn Mays even left the house for the start of the U.S. Olympic Trials on Friday, the Oregon sprinter had some wind at her back courtesy of a UO teammate.

That steady breeze remained constant throughout the opening day of the Trials at Hayward Field. Four Ducks competed in UO colors Friday, and all four advanced in their events, as did a slew of Oregon alumni looking to make Team USA for the Olympic Games in Paris later this summer.

Mays (100), Elliott Cook (1,500) and Ryann Porter (triple jump) each advanced during Friday’s evening session. That followed a qualifying effort from Shelby Moran in the hammer throw during Friday’s morning session.

“I got to see that before I had to head over here,” Mays said later in the day. “So I was like, OK, that’s really good. We’ve got Ducks through. That’s always what we try to do, is just survive and advance, live to see another day. We definitely feed off of that.”

Mays, Cook and Moran each followed up Pac-12 Championship-winning efforts in their respective events with strong starts at the Trials on Friday. Porter, who redshirted her first outdoor season with the Ducks this spring, improved on her showing from the Prefontaine Classic earlier this season and advanced to Saturday’s final of the women’s triple jump.

Cook was one of five runners with Oregon ties to advance in the 1,500; defending Trials champion Cole Hocker was the top qualifier along with Cook, Cooper Teare, Matt Wisner and Sam Prakel. The 2016 Olympic champion, Matthew Centrowitz, pulled out of the race Friday morning due to injury.

Cook, who was runner-up at this year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships, was one of eight collegians to advance through Friday’s three heats in the 1,500.

“I think the pros know that the NCAA guys are the sharpest right now,” Cook said. “So it’s something that they need to worry about, because obviously a lot of them are gearing up for way later in the season. So you have to expect that the NCAA guys are going to show up at meets like this. We have a little bit less pressure on us to perform, so a lot of us can go out there and just go crazy with it. And so that’s what’s exciting.”

Cook had a comfortable ride through the second of three heats, remaining just off the lead most of the race and finishing in 3:37.78. That followed an opening heat in which Teare had the lead early, then saw the pack spread out across the homestretch as the field vied for the seven automatic qualifying spots in Saturday’s semifinals. Teare surveyed the chaos down the homestretch and came away safe in fifth, crossing in 3:38.74, one spot ahead of Wisner (3:38.85).

“It’s mostly just making sure I’m playing it the right way, knowing who’s around me,” Teare said. “I think a lot of people just run; they don’t really assess their surroundings. They want to make it to day three feeling as good as they can, but like I said, there’s no day three without days one and two. So I’m just trying to gauge the effort properly — you know, not send it too hard, but making sure I’m in one of those safe spots.”

Hocker, meanwhile, made an emphatic statement in the final heat, leading essentially wire-to-wire and crossing in an impressive 3:34.54. Hocker was pulling away from the field in the final 50 meters before glancing back and seeing the big gap between himself and everyone else.

“It was about as good a day as I could have asked for,” Hocker said. “Coming off of it I feel like I did not have to dig deeper than I wanted to. So I’m feeling really good.”

Oregon track and field also was well-represented in qualifying for the women’s 100 meters. Two-time NCAA Outdoor champion English Gardner advanced through the first heat in 11.17, Mays was fourth in the second heat in 11.07 and Jenna Prandini was second in the third heat in 11.03. 

Mays survived a heat that included one false start and then officials standing up the field from the blocks before, finally, a clean start on the third try. Through all of that, Mays kept her head and managed to advance.

“Being at home on my track helps a little bit,” Mays said. “I mean, the crowd is there, everybody’s there, I’ve run on this track a million times. Obviously it’s a different stage (and) it is definitely easier said than done. But yeah, I think being at home kind of helped a little bit. I’m like, it’s OK.”

Gardner seemed rejuvenated after her effort in the opening heat. She got off to a strong start before cruising to sixth in her heat and automatically advancing.

“In my head, that’s really all I was thinking about,” Gardner said of her start. “Throughout the year that’s been kind of my crappiest part — which is crazy because here at Oregon, that was my best part of my race. But after a couple of knee surgeries, you know, you’ve got to figure out these new wheels. So that’s been the thing coming in these past three years.”

Gardner medaled in each of the last two Olympics as part of the U.S. relay pool but has found individual success tougher to come by in recent years. In other recent major meets at Hayward Field her frustrations have been palpable, but she was back to her old self Friday.

“I had to actually come to terms that I was going through a little burnout a little bit,” Gardner said. “And it took about three years for me to pull myself out of it. And I realized that I was just putting too much into track and field — and it’s hard to do that, because you love it. It’s a sport that can literally engulf you; it’s so intoxicating, it’s so attractive, it’s easy to get lost in it. And I started to identify English Gardner as just a fast girl that can just run the 100 meters really good. But I’m way more than that.”

Mental clarity was helpful as well for reigning Olympic bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers in the 800 preliminaries on Friday. Rather than relying on her typically strong kick, Rogers ran close to the front throughout her heat and crossed third in 2:01.73.

Rogers said ignoring social media for the past month helped her find peace of mind prior to the start of the Trials.

“I felt like I had things that just kind of stressed me out or just took me out of character leading up to it,” Rogers said. “And once I took that break, I was able to get back to myself, which is most important for these times.”

In the fourth and final heat of the 800, Sabrina Southerland also stayed near the front throughout. She crossed fourth in 2:02.39.

“For sure I tried my best to get out well and secure my position, so I wouldn’t be caught in traffic getting trampled up in the back,” Southerland said. “Just try to secure a top-six finish in my heat … The first lap was a little chill. I was like, OK, we got to get it moving. Because we are the last heat, and coming through in 61 it’s unlikely that time qualifiers will come out of it. So yeah, that’s when I really knew like, okay, top-six or nothing.”

Porter also experienced some pressure in the triple jump, needing to soar 43 feet, 3 inches — a personal best and the No. 6 mark in UO history — on her third and final attempt to move into the top 12 and reach Saturday’s finals. And Moran had some tense moments to start the day Friday, throwing the hammer 229-6 in the first flight and then waiting out the second to see if she advanced.

“I have nothing to lose at this point,” Moran said after her flight, before learning she had advanced to Sunday’s final. “I mean, NCAAs is done, it’s not like I have a big chance of going to the Olympics, so no pressure, just wanted to come in and have fun. Throwing with these girls is always fun.”

Cook has a similar mindset as he looks to Saturday’s semifinals, and a chance to reach the final on Monday.

“Obviously eyes are on the final, and then in the final let’s just see what happens,” Cook said. “I’m sharp right now. I’ve got more confidence than I ever have, with how my NCAA season played out. And yeah, I just want to show up for Hayward, man. I want the Eugene locals to remember my name and really do something fun in the final. But we’ve gotta get there first.”

Friday Results

U.S. Olympic Team Trials (Eugene, Ore.)


1500 Meters first round

1. Cole Hocker – 3:34.54q (SB)

3. Sam Prakel – 3:35.37q (SB)

13. Elliott Cook – 3:37.78q

24. Cooper Teare – 3:38.74q

25. Matt Wisner – 3:38.85q

31. Johnny Gregorek – 3:39.24

Semifinals – Saturday, 6:56 p.m.

3,000m Steeplechase first round

25. Jackson Mestler – 8:43.35

Pole Vault qualifying

14. Cole Walsh – 5.60m/18-4.5

Decathlon day one

11. Joe Delgado – 4,062 points

              11. 100 Meters – 10.83 (SB) [899 points]

              10. Long Jump – 7.09m/23-3.25 (SB) [835]

              12. Shot Put – 13.91m/45-7.75 [723]

              T9. High Jump – 1.92m/6-3.5 [731]

              9. 400 Meters – 48.74 (SB) [874]


100 Meters first round

6. Jenna Prandini – 11.03q (SB)

14. Jadyn Mays – 11.07wq (+3.1)

19. English Gardner – 11.17q

Semifinals – Saturday, 5:58 p.m.

800 Meters first round

14. Raevyn Rogers – 2:01.73q (SB)

24. Sabrina Southerland – 2:02.39q

Semifinals – Sunday, 6:11 p.m.

Triple Jump qualifying

9. Ryann Porter – 13.18m/43-3q (PB, No. 6 UO)

–. Lexi Ellis – NM 

Final – Saturday, 6:20 p.m.

Hammer qualifying

7. Shelby Moran – 69.95m/229-6q

Final – Sunday, 5:00 p.m.

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