Saturday, March 6, 2010

Minnesota's Ben Blankenship wins mile at UW Final Qualifier...

The University of Minnesota's Big 10 champion Ben Blankenship (left/photo courtesy University of Minnesota) won a thrilling mile run at the UW Final Qualifier meet Saturday at the Dempsey Indoor to earn himself an automatic qualifying mark for next week's NCAA championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Blankenship was content to let Galen Rupp, who was using this race as a tuneup for next week's IAAF World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar do most of the work, along with a designated pace setter from the Oregon Track Club Elite.

Once the OTC Elite pace setter dropped out at the 1200 mark, Rupp took command, but was slightly surprised to see Blankenship, along with former Oregon teammate AJ Acosta, and former University of Washington school record holder Eric Garner still with him with 200 to go.

In fact, Garner took the lead, but lost it as the runners entered the final straight, at which time Blankenship charged from the outside to take the victory in a time of 3:57.87, under the NCAA auto qualifying time of 3:59.00.

Acosta, who broke four minutes for the first time at this last chance meet two years ago, also got under the NCAA auto qualifier with a time of 3:58.08. Rupp finished third at 3:58.79, while Garner hung on to finish fourth in 3:59.32, to break four minutes for the first time since graduating from the UW.

Here's the video of the race, courtesy of media partner

Other highlights of the UW last chance meet included an automatic qualifying mark of 9:08.74, just off of her personal best and UW school record in the 3000 meter run by Mel Lawrence, with teammate Kendra Schaaf third in a time of 9:20.53, a provisional qualifying time.

Washington State's Lisa Egami finished fifth in the race in a time of 9:27.45, setting a WSU indoor school record.

Rupp finished his day by winning the 800 meter run in 1:50.64.

Perhaps the most bizarre finish to a successful series of meets at the Dempsey occurred in the men's pole vault.

As the competition drew to a close, Brian Porter of Texas Tech, Michael Arnold of Idaho State, Jeremy Klas, Brandon Estrada of USC, and Casey DiCesare of UCLA all thought they were jumping at 5.43 meters/17-9 3/4.

All but Estrada missed their three attempts at that height. However, the bar was remeasured, and it was revealed that all competitors were actually jumping at 5.50 meters/18-0.5, the NCAA automatic qualifying standard, instead of the announced height of 17-9 3/4.

After discussion between the officials and the meet referee, Porter, Arnold, Klas & DiCesare all received three attempts at 17-9 3/4, which none cleared.

The bottom line? Estrada got the victory and an NCAA auto qualifying mark of 18-0 1/2 for next week's NCAA championships!

Complete results from the UW Final Qualifier can be accessed here.

Finally in Ames, Iowa, the Washington State men's 4x400m relay squad of freshman Greg Hornsby, junior Jeshua Anderson, senior Reny Follett and sophomore Joe Abbottdid not finish their heat at the Iowa State NCAA Qualifier in Ames, Iowa, after Anderson pulled up with a hamstring injury. This WSU squad ran an NCAA PQ time of 3:09.35 at the MPSF Championships last weekend in Seattle, but was trying to better the 24th position in the national standings to score an invite.

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