Nielsen has been chasing Darryl Roberson's 1989 school record of 249-6 for the past three years, since he first earned All-America honors as a sophomore. His previous career-best was 247-1, coming in 2010. This year, Nielsen had been impressively consistent, but had yet to land a huge throw, with a season-best of 239-11. That changed in round one, and Nielsen followed it up with another big bomb of 246-6, before passing his final three attempts after fouling in round 3.
"First meet this year that I've really felt a hundred percent on. As soon as I was on the runway for that first throw everything felt in the right position, I felt totally prepared. I'm happy I finally got that," said the Langley, British Columbia native. "Working on my attack angle, working on lowering my release because I'd been throwing a little too high this year, and on the runway I hit my steps right and everything fell together."
Joining him on the plane to Des Moines in two weeks are fellow javelin thrower Joe Zimmerman, who finished sixth in the qualifying round (top twelve advance to the nationals) with a toss of 235-1 (71.67m) on his fifth attempt, after being on the bubble through the first three rounds.
Eastern Washington's Aaron Mettler fouled on all three attempts.
Another Husky who advanced to the nationals was pole vaulter Scott Roth, who was one of ten athletes to clear 17-0 3/4 (5.20m) despite tricky conditions and a rain delay to tie for seventh.
Pac-10 javelin champ Marissa Tschida had the best throw in the women's javelin first round of 174-feet, 10 inches (53.29m) and will advance to the NCAA semifinals next month in Des Moines. Tschida, a senior from Missoula, Mont, is a two-time All-American and will be competing in her fourth NCAA Championships. She is the WSU record-holder and had the top throw in the country entering this competition at 183-9 (56.02m).
Teammate Courtney Kirkwood, a junior from Othello, Wash., took 10th-place in the javelin first round with a throw of 162-5 (49.52m), and is among the 12 from the West to advance to the semifinals round.
Washington's Amanda Peterson finished a disappointing 16th, throwing 156-8 (47.75), five feet short of 12th place and a spot in the national championships.
In other events, Tacoma's Andrea Geubelle of Kansas advanced to Des Moines with an 8th place finish in the long jump, leaping 20-3.5 (6.18m).
In the 10000 meter run, Pac-10 champ Stephanie Marcy of Stanford, a Sequim HS grad, finished fourth in 33:31.95, while Bellingham's Bronwyn Crossman of Oregon was ninth in 33:36.74. Washington's Lindsay Flanagan was 18th in 34:04.13.
The men's 10000 saw Gig Harbor's Miles Unterreiner of Stanford taking fifth in 29:14.46.
The University of Washington's release can be read here, while Washington State's release is available here.
Complete day 1 results from the NCAA West preliminary round are available here.
Action continues Friday at Eugene's Hayward Field.
DIVISION II AND III RECAP
In Turlock, California, Western Washington University distance runner Sarah Porter had the greatest accomplishment of her illustrious career, winning the women's 10,000 meters in opening-day action Thursday.
Porter's time of 33:17.39 broke her own school record as well as bettering meet and stadium standards. The old meet record was 33:24.24 set by Robyn Root from Cal Poly SLO in 1985. Porter's clocking, which was just over 12 seconds off the all-time NCAA II standard of 33:05.80 set by Seattle Pacific's Bente Moe in 1987, qualified her automatically for the USA Championships later this summer.
"It really hasn't sunk in yet, but it feels really awesome," said Porter, a senior from Hockinson. "I know that I wanted to go out from the gun, and I figured going off by myself would be the best way to go."
Following Porter's race, two Vikings competed in the men's 10,000, Jordan Welling (Sr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison) finishing 11th in 30:13.87 and Bennett Grimes (Sr., Pocatello, ID/Century) 14th in 30:40.71.
In the first day of the heptathlon competition, Seattle Pacific's Ali Worthen stands in sixth place with a score of 3117, while teammates Crystal Sims (3062) and Katy Gross (2871) are in eighth, and fourteenth places, respectively.
Worthen also competed Thursday in the long jump finals, placing 17th with a jump of 17-1 1/4 (5.21m).
Central Washington's Torrie Self finished 15th in the women's hammer, throwing 162-10 (49.63m) in her only fair mark of the day.
Seattle Pacific's release can be read here, while Western Washington's release is available here. Central Washington's release is here.
In the NCAA Division III championships in Delaware, Ohio, Tonya Turner and Elizabeth Mattila of Whitworth advanced to the championship finals of their respective running events.
Turner (Sr., Spokane, Wash.) finished third in her heat of the 1,500 meter run with a new school-record time of 4:29.13. Her heat was the faster of the two, and she was one of ten automatic qualifiers to Saturday's championship final.
Mattila (Sr., Ferndale, Wash.) finished second in the third and final heat of the women's 400 meter hurdles with a time of 1:01.62 to advance to Saturday's finals.
Whitworth's release is available here.
NOTE: The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, Eastern Washington, Western Washington, Central Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Whitworth contributed to this report.