Sports

Prandini books return ticket to Olympics, eyes spot in favored 200m

Jenna Prandini, the Clovis High School track and field standout and 2016 Olympian, punched her return ticket to the Olympics – this time in Tokyo – last week finishing fourth in the U.S. Track and Field 100-meter trials.

While Prandini’s 11.11-second finish in last Saturday’s 100 meter final came up short a bid for Olympic hardware in the event, it did earned her a spot on the U.S. 4×100-meter relay team for the Tokyo Games in July.

As an alternate in the 100-meter event, she could also be called to lace up for the Stars and Stripes if one of the top three finishers is unable to compete.

Her attention much of this week, however, is about leading the charge in her strongest event – the 200-meter.

For historical context, Prandini is a two-time national champion in the event – in 2015 and 2018. It was also the event that helped deliver her to Rio de Janeiro four years ago.

In the first round of the 200-meter trials on Thursday, Prandini closed out a strong second place at 22.14 seconds, closely tailing top finisher Gabby Thomas at 21.98 seconds.

In her opening heat in the 200, Prandini jumped to an early lead only to cruise the final 50 meters of the race.

“The plan was to get out there and execute the first 150 and then just relax,” the Oregon grad told her alma mater in a post-race interview.

Thursday’s finish moved her into the 200-meter semifinals, slated for Friday night.

In her Friday semi-final, the Oregon Duck will square off against Allyson Felix, the most decorated female track and field Olympian. However, Felix’s specialty is the 400-meter, rather than the shorter sprint.

Only one runner has a quicker season’s best time than Prandini – Cambrea Sturgis of North Carolina A&T University. Her time is 0.02 seconds better than Prandini’s.

The top three finishers in each of the two semi-final races on Friday – along with the next two fastest times – will advance to the 200-meter final on Saturday night in Eugene.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.