Jenna Prandini is the queen of the NCAA long jump, adding another impressive piece of hardware Friday at the Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Of course, she’s not a bad sprinter, either.
Prandini, the former Clovis High standout who now stars as a junior on one of the nation’s preeminent track and field teams at the University of Oregon, leaped a school-record 21 feet, 10 inches to win long jump gold in one of the highlights of the first of two days of competition. She won the same event at last summer’s NCAA Outdoors meet.
Kentucky sophomore Sha’Keela Saunders was second at 21-5, followed by Louisiana State sophomore Nataliyah Friar (21-0).
Encore, anyone? Prandini nearly one-upped herself in the 200 meters. It was just a preliminary, after all, when runners don’t always go all out, but she still ran the ninth-fastest time in NCAA history at 22.52 seconds to lead all qualifiers. It ranks No. 1 in the world this season and broke the school record of 22.87 she set in a tuneup meet a month ago.
The final of the 200, where the meet and NCAA record is the 22.40 by Texas’ Bianca Knight in 2008, is scheduled for Saturday night. Florida’s Kyra Jefferson, who had grabbed the world lead a day after Prandini briefly led, was second in qualifying at 22.64.
Somewhere in between she took it easy in the 60-meter prelims, just the second-best qualifier there. Kentucky senior Dezerea Bryant and Prandini had identical final times of 7.15, but Bryant had the edge 7.145 to 7.147. Pradini's time was a personal best.
"I don't really think about (the hectic schedule) that much," Prandini said. "I just listen to my coaches. I've done it all in high school and I got a lot of experience with it last year at Pac-12's and outdoor nationals so I was pretty comfortable with it."
Prandini won the long jump (21-6), was second in the 200 (22.63) and third in the 100 (11.42) at the Outdoors in June.
"Jenna is absolutely phenomenal," coach Robert Johnson said. "For her to be able to maintain and manage her energies correctly was big coming into this meet."
The Oregon women’s team is seeking a sixth straight national team title, though ranked just sixth. Host school Arkansas is the favorite.
“Every year we face the same battle,” Prandini said ahead of the meet. “I think we’re just as ready to go to war as any other year.
"I have three events, so I just have to take them event by event. I'm one of the oldest on the team now, or the oldest. It's definitely more of a burden. I'll take more of the pressure, but I'm ready to take on that role."