Olympic Trials Day 3




EUGENE — Ashton Eaton made winning the grueling decathlon look easy. English Gardner led a torrid field in the women's 100 meters. And Justin Gatlin ran a world-leading 9.80 seconds in the men's 100. All three dazzled the Hayward Field crowd on Day 3 of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

Eaton didn't approach his world-record form of the past, instead staying conservative as he coasted to victory in the two-day decathlon. He won or tied five events en route to his total score of 8,750 points.

Gardner clocked 10.74 seconds in the women's 100, barely topping a field that also included times of 10.78 from Tianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie, who finished second and third, respectively.

Gatlin provided his own wow factor. First he posted the top semifinal time of 9.83 seconds, then bettered it by three-hundredths to win the final. Trayvon Bromell and Marvin Bracy will join Gatlin on Team USA for the Rio Olympics.

Chaunte Lowe and Vashti Cunningham also dueled in the women's high jump before Lowe topped the teenager for the victory.

6 Ducks made the women’s 100-meter semifinals, three made the final, one is an Olympian.

Sprinter English Gardner will carry the Oregon banner to Rio de Janeiro in August, earning her first spot in the Summer Games with a blazing performance Sunday during the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field.

With a crowd of 22,424 on its feet, the former Duck won in 10.74 seconds to set a personal best in a race that featured five times under 11 seconds, including Tianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie, who came in second and third, respectively, in a photo finish, 10.776 to 10.779.

“When I crossed the line and saw the results, I didn’t really care if I came in first, second or third, I was just excited that I made the team,” Gardner said. “This was something I worked on from the fall. I knew I was in the best shape of my life. I knew I was in a good position to do something good, and with the help of these ladies, we gave the show that we promised from the beginning. It was very fun, and it was exciting.”

The 100 turned into a showcase for the Oregon sprint program when six current or former Ducks advanced out of Saturday’s preliminaries.

Jasmine Todd, Mandy White and sophomore Deajah Stevens were knocked out during the semifinals. Jenna Prandini and Ariana Washington joined Gardner in the final.

Prandini, in her first season as a pro, finished fifth in 10.96. Washington, a redshirt freshman, was sixth in 11.01.

“It was a fast race, and I’m happy for those girls,” Prandini said. “I wish I would’ve run a little faster but I’m going to reset and get after it in the 200.”

Washington said it took all she had not to panic before the final race.

“You really don’t know what you’re against until you get into the blocks,” said Washington, who set a PR in the semifinals with a time of 10.97. “I was trying not to think that it was the Olympic Trials final, just tried to worry about my race and my lane and execute, and I didn’t do so well. But the learning experience was the greatest I ever had.”

Washington, Prandini and Stevens are all entered in the 200 later this week.

Not Gardner, who gets to turn all her attention to Rio.

“I told (my coach) in practice one day, all I need you to do is set the table,” Gardner said. “Put the knives down, put the forks down, put the napkins down, pour me a glass of water. Because if you get me to the table, I promise you I’m gonna eat. So, I had a little bit of dinner today.”

Gardner exploded out of the blocks and took an immediate lead in the final, and had just enough to hold off Bartoletta and Bowie as they nearly chased her down.

“I tried to stay as comfortable as possible,” Gardner said. “These two ladies are the most fierce ladies we have in the United States. They don’t back down. They’re not scared of anybody. That’s why I love competing against them — they always give the best race they can. I knew it was going to be a wire-to-wire race. If I just kept my composure, we would just see where I came out at the end.”

Like Gardner, Bowie will be a first-time Olympian when she gets to Rio.

The 25-year-old won bronze at the World Outdoor Championships last summer and came into the Olympic Trials with the top time by an American at 10.80.

“I’m extremely thankful,” Bowie said. “I’m on the Olympic team. I’ve been waiting four years for this moment, ever since 2012. I said no matter what happens today, I’m going to walk away with my head held high.”

Bartoletta is a seasoned vet on the international stage.

She won gold with the 4x100-relay team in London in 2012, and was the World Outdoor champ in 2005 and 2015 in the long jump.

Bartoletta, 30, will also compete in the long jump in Rio after finishing second in that event on Friday.

“It was so fine-tunely executed and planned out, the way we were going to handle this meet, that it was almost like a checklist: Done, done done,” Bartoletta said. “I’m extremely proud of myself, but at the same time, as a professional, I’m like, ‘It’s finished. I did what I needed to do.’”






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