Damarcus Simpson falls short in long jump, Sam Prakel and Mick Stanovsek run into 1,500 finals

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

Football is considered the game of inches, but Oregon long jumper Damarcus Simpson might argue that should change.

In the long jump, one centimeter over the board and the jump doesn’t count. Too much space behind means distance is taken away from a jump. It was one or the other for Simpson, and it eliminated the favorite from competing in the final.

His first jump was over the board. His second jump was maybe less than an inch over, but it doesn’t matter. He needed to get one on the board for a chance to reach the final.

In his third jump, he got a mark, but he launched from way behind the board. He wasn’t trying to be conservative, but he knew he just needed one mark to give him a chance.

“We wanted to go for it,” Simpson said. “We wanted to go for it and my mind just shut it down that last three steps. In the back of my mind, I guess it was just, ‘Slow it down, get a jump in,’ and I was just too far behind.”

His jump of 27 feet, 7.5 inches was three-quarters of an inch short of qualifying for the final flight. He was the favorite in the event. His personal best jump is a foot shy of the winner’s mark of 27, 5.5. Maybe his poor performance was because of the pressure, or maybe it was the opposite.

“I had a very calm demeanor this whole entire day,” Simpson said. “That’s new territory for me. Everyone was looking for me to win, and I’ve never had that feeling before, and I guess I got too complacent, let it get away from me.”

Overall, three Oregon men qualified for Friday’s finals. Sam Prakel and Mick Stanovsek qualified in the 1,500 meters, and sprinter Cravon Gillespie qualified in the 100 meters. However, some Ducks’ seasons ended on Wednesday. Braxton Canady missed the final in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.78 seconds, placing 12th. Orwin Emilien failed to qualify in the 400-meters, running a 46.36 and finishing 19th. And the Oregon 4×400-meter relay finished 21st with a time of three minutes, 8.15 seconds.

The day began with the 1,500 meters for the Oregon men.

The heat started slow with the leader at 50 seconds through the first 300 meters, but it sped up for the final 800 meters. Prakel stayed steady at the front, following whoever jumped out to take the lead. With 600 meters to go, Prakel started a kick to take the lead and held it to the finish line for a time of 3:49.33.

A slow heat in championship qualifiers is not surprising, it’s all about creating the right game plan.

“It’s what we expected,” Prakel said. “It was pretty slow the first [800 meters], just take control of the race and run a hard last 600 [meters] cause we have a lot of strength to get a lot of guys over that long move.”

Stanovsek qualified with a different style. He was in the back of the pack through the first two laps, but he wiggled his way to the outside, kicking into the lead and entering the final 200 meters in the top three. He finished there, placing third with a time of 3:49.83.

Stanovsek, a redshirt sophomore, successfully navigated pack running, something he’s not quite used to.

“Yeah, that’s somewhere where I don’t find myself too often,” he said. “I’m a runner who likes to stay excited throughout the whole race. That’s that 800 [meter] mentality. So being back there made me a bit nervous, but I stayed cool, calm, collected. Just tried to take myself out of the race and look at it from a birds-eye view and see how I could get out.”

Junior sprinter Cravon Gillespie competed in the 100 and 200 meters on Wednesday. Gillespie ran the second-fastest time of the day in the 100 meters. His time of 10.02 is a personal best, setting it in a fast third heat.

“I knew each heat was going to be fast, knowing I got a guy who has ran 9.90 [seconds] before,” he said. “I knew I was going to have to get out and just compete the while.”

Gillespie didn’t qualify for the 200-meter final, running a time of 20.71. So, now it’ll be all eyes on the 100 for his final race of the season.

“Just knowing it’s two more days until next season, the end of my junior year, just finish strong,” he said.

Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917

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