Former Ducks reflect after final Prefontaine Classic at Historic Hayward Field

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

Nearly one year ago, Raevyn Rogers sprinted over the finish line in the 4×400 at Hayward Field to earn Oregon women’s track and field the triple crown along with the outdoor national championship. At the 2018 Prefontaine Classic, it was just another day for her in Eugene, where she is currently living as she finishes up two degrees at the University of Oregon.

“Being able to still live this day like a normal day, helps me be calmer than I usually am,” Rogers said. “Once I came out here I just tell myself, ‘you can do this, you’re ready.’”

Rogers and other former Ducks competed one last time at Hayward Field at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday. With some of the biggest stars in track and field lining each event, the IAAF Diamond League meet gave the 12,667-person crowd its money’s worth.

Returning to Hayward Field for former Oregon track and field athletes is always a rush. The fans roar when the names of former Ducks get announced at the start lines, and at this year’s Prefontaine Classic, it’s even more special before the stadium gets renovated.

“They’re rooting for me no matter if there’s record holder or world champ, I get the loudest cheer so it’s pretty cool,” hurdler Devon Allen said.

Allen finished third in the men’s 110-meter hurdles in 13.13 seconds, 0.12 behind the defending Olympic and world champion Omar McLeod in the top spot of the race.

“He’s consistent,” Allen said of McLeod. “Really, 10 top guys in the hurdle world that we run against all the time. You always want a fast race and 13.01 is a really fast race.”

World champion and former Duck Phyllis Francis finished second behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the women’s 400 meters. Francis nearly was edged out by Shakima Wimbley, who came 0.04 seconds behind Francis’ 50.81 run. Francis said she didn’t realize how close behind her she was until there was 50 meters to go.

“I was just focusing on my own plan,” Francis said. “Whatever happens happens.”

Before the race, Francis said she was hoping to improve her start to the race, saying it’s publically known that her jump “sucks.” But in the race, she got it right, and said she was pleased with her start.

Just like Allen, and many other athletes, Francis also reflected on the Hayward renovation.

“Now it’s starting to hit me,” she said. “It’s so great to be out here with the fans, it just brings back memories of my college years. Out with the old and in with the new.”

Rogers didn’t win her race, nor was she very close. But she did improve for a season’s best 1:59.36, finishing seventh in a race won by South Africa’s Caster Semenya in 1:55.92 — the fastest women’s 800 run on U.S. soil.

That doesn’t bother Rogers, who was more than happy with her result and personal performance as she gears up for the summer.

“Once I saw I was really close to everyone, I was really excited because for a while I was scared to get in the mix,” Rogers said. “With this meet, I was really able to do the best that I could and actually finish close and still go two seconds faster than I did in Boston. It’s a good day for me.”

Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow

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