THERE'S AN ENGLISH GARDNER IN OREGON
English Gardner is always willing to tell how she came by her first name.
"My mother is very spiritual," said the University of Oregon junior sprinter, "and when I was in her belly she had an epiphany. She felt that whatever was inside of her was going to be great, so she wanted a name for me that was hard to forget. She met a doctor named English and my mother took her name."
And English Gardner is a name not to be forgotten, an athlete still making that name more memorable. At Oregon, she's led off the 4x400 relays in the last two NCAA championship meets, starting the Ducks off to victories both outdoors last June and indoors in March. And she was the fastest woman in American colleges in 2012 when she won the NCAA 100 meters and indoor 60 meters events. She was second in the indoor 60 this year as Oregon won its fourth consecutive NCAA women's team title.
At last year's Penn Relays, English and Oregon finished second to Texas A&M in the women's 4x400 Championship of America, after the Ducks' 4x800 and 4x1500 relays put Oregon's women among winners at Penn for the first time. This year the quartet of Gardner, Chizoba Okodogbe, Laura Roesler and Phyllis Francis wants its own set of relays watches.
"The 4x4 is something new for us," English said. "We take pride in it now. It's the best race, at the end of the meet, it closes the doors. It's a showdown."
What's not new for her is the Penn Relays.
"I've been coming here (competing) since I was 12 or 13," said the graduate of Eastern High School in South Jersey. "It's been a part of me since I first started track."
Now all she needs is a Championship of America to make "English" a permanent part of the language at Franklin Field.
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