Saturday, June 28, 2008

Olympic Trials day 2 recap...

EUGENE—Under a warm sunny afternoon in the Willamette Valley, Diana Pickler (left/photo by Paul Merca) punched her ticket to Beijing by finishing third in the heptathlon, scoring a personal best of 6257 points.

With a sellout crowd of 16500 at historic Hayward Field witnessing the day's activities entering the 800 meter run, the final event of the seven-event, two-day ordeal, Pickler was in an epic struggle with Gi Gi Johnson for the third and final spot on the plane to China.

The situation was simple; Pickler needed to stay within 1 1/2 seconds of Johnson to earn the last spot.

And stick to Johnson she did.

Johnson won the final section of the 800, running 2:15.88, worth 880 points, while Pickler ran a personal best of 2:16.59, worth 870 points, earning Pickler the final score of 6257, with Johnson fourth with 6247 points.

“Racing the 800 hasn’t been my forte”, said Pickler. “My coach (Rick Sloan) told me, ‘I know you can do it’. I had to convince myself of that, so I had to stick to her like glue. I just kept my eyes on her back.”

“I couldn’t let her break away from me, so I had to go with her every time she went.”

Hyleas Fountain won the heptathlon with a score of 6667 points, with Pickler’s former Pac-10 rival, Jacqueline Johnson second with 6347 points.

Diana’s sister Julie dropped out of the competition after six events.

In other events, Purdue’s Kara Patterson was very relaxed as the Skyview/Vancouver grad easily advanced to the finals, by throwing 175-9, the fourth longest throw of the day.

“I’m totally excited about qualifying today. I was so much more relaxed than I was at the NCAA championships. I’ve never thrown here at Hayward Field before. It’s so cool to be able to throw in front of friends and family.”

When asked about her thoughts on being one of two women that hold the Olympic Games A standard, she said that it makes her feel more relaxed and that she can rely on the training that she’s done to get her through the competition.

Jeshua Anderson’s amazing run ended with a non-qualifying fifth place finish in the semifinals of the 400 hurdles, running a time of 48.92, the fastest non-qualifier.

Former WSU standout Eric Dudley from Bellingham, who now resides in North Carolina, finished sixth in Anderson’s heat, running 49.37.

In the only other event involving an athlete with Washington connection, Ryan Brown ran 1:47.95 to finish seventh in the first semi-final.

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