EUGENE--A pair of former Washington prep standouts were among those who survived the qualifying rounds on Wednesday as day 1 of the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships concluded under sunny skies at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.
University of Oregon senior Michael Berry ran the third fastest time of the day in the men's 400, as the product of Rainier Beach HS ran 45.41 to win his heat and avoid a repeat of last year's failure to reach the finals.
Kent native Derrick Daigre from the University of Washington qualified for the finals of the men's 800, as he secured an automatic qualifier, finishing second in heat 2 of the 3 national semifinal heats.
Daigre, the reigning Pac-12 champ, got out well, and stayed out of trouble, surviving a late charge from the field, running 1:48.77.
Daigre will run in Friday's finals at 5:15pm. He's the first Husky to make the 800 final since Austin Abbott finished seventh in the 2008 meet in Des Moines.
“This could be your last race so you just give it your all no matter what happens,” said Daigre. “I did feel like I was in control though. Being in that third spot, coming through in 52-seconds, I’m really not concerned with those kind of fast laps. So I felt that with 150, 200 to go I’d still feel pretty good, and luckily I did, and was able to pass a couple guys and get through. You work out and practice every day to get into a race like this, so I’m very excited.”
In heat 1, Jesse Jorgensen of Washington State finished fourth in a time of 1:50.01.
In the women's steeple, Washington's Liberty Miller (above/photo by Mike Scott) ran a personal best time of 10:05.40 to finish fifth in her semifinal heat to advance to Friday's final, where she'll look to become the second Husky to score in this event along with 2009-10 scorer Mel Lawrence.
“The whole time I was thinking, ‘be aware of where you are and what moves you need to make,’ said Miller. “With two laps to go I made a little move, and some girls caught me and I thought don’t freak out, stay relaxed, you still have a full lap to go and a lot of energy to burn. So that last lap I just gave it all I had to cinch that fifth spot.”
In the same heat, Big Sky champ Catie Arrigoni of Eastern Washington finished ninth in a time of 10:24.66, while in heat 1, Inglemoor HS grad Tansey Lystad of the University of Portland was tenth in 10:20.02.
In the women's 400 hurdles, Washington's Gianna Woodruff and Kayla Stueckle finished 11th and 16th overall with Woodruff missing her personal best of 57.72 by 2/100ths of a second, and Stueckle running 58.84.
Woodruff said that she hit the ninth and tenth hurdles, which may have cost her a spot in the finals.
On the field, Washington's Pac-12 champ Jax Thoirs finished 13th in the pole vault with a leap of 17-8 1/2 (5.40m). After missing twice at 18-0 1/2 (5.50m), the Scottish national record holder gambled by passing his last attempt to go for a do-or-die attempt at 18-2 1/2 (5.55m) that would have put him in at least a tie for third.
Eastern Washington's Emma Murillo finished eight inches short of the personal best she set two weeks ago at the NCAA West Preliminary round, throwing 156-3 (47.63m) to finish 16th overall.
On Thursday, Washington's 1500 meter entries--2012 champ Katie Flood, along with Izaic Yorks and Nick Harris will line up in the semifinals, as will Megan Goethals and Lindsay Flanagan in the 10000 final. Washington State's Andrew Gonzales will run in the national semi in the steeplechase, and the final athlete for Eastern Washington, Jordan Arakawa goes in the finals of the men's hammer throw.
On the pro circuit, former University of Washington standout Ingvill Måkestad Bovin finished ninth in the women's 800 meters at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games Wednesday night in Oslo, Norway's famed Bislett Stadium.
Running in her first major track race since going on maternity leave in 2013, the 2011 world championships finalist at 1500m ran 2:02.23, as reigning world champ Eunice Sum of Kenya ran a season best 1:59.02 to strengthen her grip on first place in the 2014 IAAF Diamond League standings over this distance.
NOTE: The University of Washington, the University of Oregon, the USTFCCCA and the IAAF contributed to this report.