ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico--Washington State alum Joe Abbott (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com) and Washington grad Katie Mackey both won their semi-final heats of the 800 meters as the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships got under way at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Abbott, a former US junior champion outdoors, took to the front from the outset, holding on to take the heat from a late charging Matthew Centrowitz, 1:47.93 to 1:47.94.
Mackey, who is dropping down in distance at the national championships, stayed behind Bethany Praska for the first three laps, then ran a 31.29 last 200 to take the win in a comfortable 2:06.64.
In another heat of the men's 800, Tacoma's Mark Wieczorek was not fortunate, as last year's Olympic Trials finalist finished second in his section in a time of 1:49.36, behind winner Robby Andrews' 1:48.87. Only the heat winner was guaranteed a place in Sunday's finals, with the three fastest times advancing to the six-man final.
Former Spokane resident Britney Henry finished fifth in the finals of the women's weight throw, with a mark of 67-11 1/2 (20.71m), as Gwendolyn Berry took the win with a best of 81-0.5 (24.70m).
Reigning Olympic champion Jenn Suhr set a new world record in the women's pole vault, clearing 16-5 1/2 (5.02m).
The meet resumes Sunday, with live television coverage on NBC Sports Network (channel 626 on Comcast in Seattle) between 1-3 pm, pacific time.
In Tacoma, Western Washington dominated the field events at Saturday's University of Puget Sound quad meet, as they won the women's team title, and tied with UPS in the men's team competition.
For Seattle Pacific, distance runner Katie Thralls and 400 hurdler Ryan Endresen earned GNAC auto qualifiers, with Thralls winning the 10000 in 37:08.94, and Endresen winning the men's 400 hurdles in 55.06.
NOTE: USA Track & Field, and the sports information offices of Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, and the University of Puget Sound contributed to this report.