Prandini-led Oregon women join men as NCAA champs

BY foxsports • June 13, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) It was a Duck feast at home at the NCAA track and field championships.

Jenna Prandini won the 100 meters and finished second to Kentucky's Dezerea Bryant in an exceedingly fast 200 on Saturday, leading the Oregon women to their first team championship in 30 years.

A day earlier, under the new meet format, the Oregon men cruised to their second straight team title, making it the first time the Ducks men and women have won the championship the same year. They did it on their home track, in the second of an eight-year contract to host the championships at Hayward Field.

''We saw them go out there and win. We saw how pumped up they were,'' Prandini said. ''We didn't want the men to outshine us, so we got on the track and did our thing.''

Coach Robert Johnson called his team's double triumph ''awesome.''

''You can't put it into words how we're feeling on the inside,''' he said. ''We put in a lot of work to get to this point. For us to be able to achieve it here in front of our Hayward Field faithful - outstanding.''

Texas A&M is the last school to win the men's and women's title in the same meet, accomplishing it in consecutive years from 2009 to 2011.

Freshman Raevyn Rogers gave Oregon an unexpected boost when she pulled away to win the 800, shaving nearly two seconds off her personal best with a run of 1:59.71.

The Ducks finished with 59 points, 26 of them from Prandini, who was second in the long jump on Thursday. Kentucky was second with 50, by far the Wildcats' best finish. Texas A&M was third with 47.

Prandini could have had a hand in more points but the Ducks' 4 x 100 relay team was disqualified for passing the baton out of the exchange zone. Florida won the relay in 42.95 seconds.

Cheered on by a huge family delegation in ''Go Jenna'' T-shirts, Prandini used a late surge to barely beat Texas' Morolake Akinosun in the 100. Prandini, a redshirt junior from Clovis, Calif., won in 10.96 seconds, .01 seconds ahead of Akinosun.

In the 200, it was a four-woman race to the finish, with Bryant winning in 22.18 seconds. Prandini was second at 22.21. Kamaria Brown of Texas A&M was third and Kyra Jefferson of Florida fourth. Both were timed at 22.24.

Counting the relay, Prandini ran three races in a little over 90 minutes. This on top of her long jump and semifinal races on Thursday.

''I felt good,'' she said. ''I mean, obviously a little bit tired from my other races, but I went in there focused.''

Senior Kendra Harrison scored 18 of Kentucky's points, winning the 100-meter hurdles and finishing second in the 400 hurdles. She hasn't decided if she will focus on just one event after college.

''I'd still like to do both,'' she said. ''I can get a lot faster in both events, so we'll see.''

In one of the meet's most stirring finishes, Mississippi State's Rhianwedd Price, from Wales, ran down defending champion Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State over the final 10 meters to lean across the tape just ahead, winning by .89 seconds.

''I was just super excited,'' Price said. ''I could see the line coming closer and closer and I was getting more and more excited. I had to look at the screen just to double check. ... I thought she knew that I was there. I thought she was going to kick harder.''

Houlihan, who led virtually the entire race, said she thought she had pulled away from Price with a burst of speed some 200 meters from the finish. She didn't know Price was closing fast.

''I was very surprised,'' Houlihan said. ''I'm very disappointed in myself.''

Rogers dropped to her knees in joy after pulling away in the final turn to win going away. Claudia Saunders of Stanford was second in 2:00.63.

''I was so excited because it happened,'' she said. ''I prayed about it. I almost threw up twice before my race and I was super nervous, so when it happened I felt really blessed.''

Johnson is well aware of the perception that the Ducks have an unfair advantage in having the NCAA championship staged on their home track every year. But he said the Hayward Field crowd doesn't just cheer on the Ducks.

''The one thing I think people miss is they cheer for everybody,'' he said. ''If you guys go back and look at Marques Denby on the long jump and triple jump runway, those were some tremendous roars they gave him, and he deserved every one of them. ... They're knowledgeable enough that they cheer for everybody, no matter what uniform they are wearing.''