Sunday, July 6, 2008

Olympic Trials day 8 recap...

EUGENE--Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) earned his second Olympic Trials title Sunday afternoon in the men’s 1500 meter run, the climactic event of a wildly successful eight days of competition at Hayward Field to select America’s team for next month’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

While the Washington State University alum’s winning time was relatively modest at 3:40.37, it was clear to the rest of the field that he was in control of the race, and that everyone else who expected to challenge him would have to run a perfect race to earn the victory.

NCAA champion Leo Manzano and former Northern Arizona standout Lopez Lomong, the fifth place finisher in the 800 earlier in the week, will join Lagat in Beijing.

Former Shelton High runner Andy McClary finished eighth in 3;42.40, while Auburn HS grad Chris Lukezic was tenth in 3:43.26.

"My coach (James Li) told me that there was no pressure [in this race], that I can run with anything that develops. The goal was to just stay out of trouble. We almost had it happen today, but we were able to get out of it," said the winner in the post-race interview area.

When asked about what it means to send a team comprised entirely of immigrants (Manzano is from Mexico, and Lomong is from Sudan), Lagat said, "It feels good. It shows that American is the place where dreams can happen. I can't find that in Europe or in my country. The three of us are living the American dream. My goal now is to do my best for this country."

"It was different for me last year [at World Championships], but in a different way. In Kenya I was wearing red and green, but now I get to wear red, white and blue."

Another Washington State standout, Ian Waltz (above/photo by Paul Merca), won the men’s discus title, throwing 216-1, to earn his second straight Olympic team spot.

Michael Robertson (209-1) and Casey Malone (205-7) will join Waltz in Beijing.

In describing the competition, Waltz said, “"I went out there in warm-up and basically took it really easy, trying to groove in some technique. I maybe had some 61 foot throws."

"I think my timing was still a little bit off because I haven't thrown hard the last week and a half. I thought I threw well and it feels good to be going to Beijing. It was a great day overall having my friends and family here."

For former Marysville-Pilchuck thrower Jarred Rome, who entered the finals with the top qualifying mark at 206-10 meters, it was a stunning fall from grace, as he finished 11th in 193-5.

As he described it, "I had three throws that slipped off my hand and went straight-up into the air. I've never in my career had that happen to me, not even in high school or college. I don't know why it was slipping off my hand. I led the qualifying and am in the best shape of my life, but I'm not on the Olympic team."

"I've never had a disappointment like this. I mean there was never a moment this year that I thought I wasn't going to make this team. I've been training for this since 2004 and have had the second longest throw this year. I don't even know what to say right now."

Former Husky Will Conwell finished sixth in 202-7, and Washington State junior Matt Lamb was tenth at 194-10.

In other field events, Washington State senior Jon Jeffreys finished twelfth in the men’s javelin at 210-0, and Thomas Jefferson graduate Kyle Jenkins finished ninth at 53-1 3/4.

In the men’s 110 hurdles, Washington State graduate Arend Watkins was eighth in his semi-final at 13.87.

Former Washington state high school champion Ginnie Powell from Rainier Beach in Seattle finished sixth in the finals of the 100 meter hurdles.

For complete results of Sunday’s Olympic Trials competition, click here, follow the date, then click on the event title.

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