Kenny Bednarek waited a long time for his moment.

He got it on Sunday, June 27.

The Rice Lake alumnus took second place in the men's 200-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon, punching his ticket to this summer's Tokyo Olympics. He clocked in at 19.78 seconds, finishing 0.04 seconds behind winner Noah Lyles.

Just three years ago, Bednarek was dominating on the track with Rice Lake. Among his many accolades, Bednarek was named MVP of the Packy Paquette Indoor Invitational at Superior High School four years in a row. Now, he'll represent the United States on the sport's biggest stage.

Rice Lake’s Kenny Bednarek set two records at the 2016 Packy Paquette Invite in Superior. (Jed Carlson 
 File / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Rice Lake’s Kenny Bednarek set two records at the 2016 Packy Paquette Invite in Superior. (Jed Carlson File / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

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"It's a dream come true," Bednarek said on NBC's broadcast. "When I was younger, I always thought about being an Olympian, wanted to be an Olympian. Now I'm here. I've fulfilled my dream, but I've got a lot of work to do."

He'll take serious medal aspirations with him to Tokyo in late July. He's one of the top 200 runners in the world, and he proved it in Eugene.

Originally slated to run on Sunday evening, Bednarek had to stay patient following a delay due to extreme heat at the Trials. It was the latest postponement he needed to sit through after the Trials were pushed back from 2020 to this year.

But the wait didn't dash his Tokyo dreams. He stayed near the front of the group for the entire race, finishing a hair behind Lyles in a strong run from start to finish.

Bednarek led narrowly at the turn, but Lyles, the world champion in the event in 2019, made up enough ground coming into the stretch.

The crowd watches as Rice Lake’s Kenny Bednarek easily wins the 400 meter dash at the 2018 Packy Paquette Invite in Superior. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
The crowd watches as Rice Lake’s Kenny Bednarek easily wins the 400 meter dash at the 2018 Packy Paquette Invite in Superior. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

"(I was thinking) just stay focused and run my race," Bendarek said. "I had to make sure to get off with a good turn and then try to maintain that. That's what I did. Hoped to do a little bit better, but the result's the result, and I'm happy that I'm able to represent U.S.A."

Erriyon Knighton, a 17-year-old, took third to grab the final Olympic-qualifying spot.

The men's 200 begins on August 3 in Tokyo, with the finals slated for August 4.

The Superior Telegram contributed to this report.

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