When Raevyn Rogers stood at the starting line during the 2018 Prefontaine Classic, she felt a sense of calm come through her mind. In only her second outdoor meet as a professional athlete, Rogers absorbed the atmosphere at historic Hayward Field, one of the places that helped shape her accomplished collegiate track and field career.
However, this time she found herself racing against some of the world’s best 800-meter runners.
Rogers finished seventh in the women’s 800m at Pre with a time of 1 minute, 59.36 seconds, six spots behind South Africa’s Caster Semenya, who clocked a world-leading time of 1:55.92.
“My biggest thing was I wanted to have a clean race and I wanted to execute my plan,” Rogers said. “I just wanted peace of mind and be able to do the best that I could and that’s why I’m proud about.”
As someone who is self-admittedly uneasy about running in the middle of the pack, Rogers posted a 2 second improvement from her race at the recent Adidas Boost Boston Games.
“Once I saw that I was really close to everyone, I was excited because for a while I’ve been scared to get in the mix of things,” Rogers said. “But with this, I was able to do the best that I could, finish close and still go sub-2.”
Rogers competed in her first professional outdoor race at the Oregon Twilight Meet on May 4 where she ran the 400m and set a meet record at 52.06.
Rogers, of course, is no stranger to Eugene as she competed as part of the UO women’s track and field team for the past three years. Today, she still considers Eugene her primary residence and continues to practice daily at Hayward Field.
“I think the best thing about (Pre) was that it was in Eugene,” Rogers said. “To still be at home, to still live this day as if it was a normal day really helped me be calmer than I usually am.”
At times, the transition from college to professional running has been a steep learning curve, but Rogers has found comfort in knowing her surroundings, and she has used that to her advantage. Being able to practice on the same track that also holds large meets allows her to strengthen her muscle memory during practice, which translates well to her races.
“The transition has been so inclusive with Hayward because I practice here,” Rogers said. “Not only did I run Twilight, and we won the triple crown here, this is my daily area where I’m actually practicing the things I’m trying to work on in races. To be able to really muscle memory know the areas I’ve been practicing hard at and kicking it into gear has showed how I was little bit more confident when I was running on the track.”
Rogers’ performance on the track is only part of her future. After competing in Jamaica on June 9, she will return to Eugene for graduation ceremonies – she will graduate from the University of Oregon with a double major in Spanish and Art.
Being a UO student-athlete presented its challenges, and sometimes Rogers wouldn’t feel like she was in the right place. However, her faith continued to anchor her as she took steps to excel in both academics and athletics.
“It’s been overwhelming, I’m not gonna even lie,” she said. “The whole process has been overwhelming, and I have times where I don’t feel as though I’m in the right place, but I always come back to my faith. I pray about things, pray for a peace of mind.”
And that has her excited for the future.