June 22, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. - Running an easy race with the goal to advance to the next round of qualifying in her quest to make her first U.S. Olympic team, Alysia Montano won her opening heat of the women's 800 meters in 2:02.61 at the track & field trials held at Hayward Field Thursday evening.
Montano, the 2007 NCAA champion during her junior season with the Bears, has won three U.S. championships in the 800 and finished fourth at last year's World Championships.
Montano's time was the fifth fastest of the day, with Cal director of track & field Tony Sandoval saying she used the race to get the kinks out and get ready for Saturday's semifinals.
In the women's 10,000 meters, school-record holder Deborah Maier finished ninth in 32:25.82 in her first appearance at the Olympic trials. Racing near the front of a tightly bunched pack through the first portion of the race, Maier surged to the front after about four laps and held the lead for eight minutes before being overtaken by the field.
The third-place finisher at the NCAA Championships earlier this month, Maier had never run a competitive 10K for Cal until this year, and she now owns the top three times in school history. She posted a Pac-12-record 32:12.47 at the Payton Jordan Invitational in April and was clocked in 32:47.20 at the NCAA meet before Friday's race.
"Deborah was so courageous knowing she needed to get the Olympic 'A' standard," Sandoval said. "I'm surprised no one was willing to push the pace. She will bounce back quickly for the 5000 prelims on Monday."
With rain falling throughout the afternoon, Kelechi Anyanwu, the 2007 NCAA discus champion who holds the Cal school record, finished 13th in her specialty with a best effort of 176-2. With the top 12 advancing for additional throws, Anyanwu just missed out on an opportunity to continue in the competition.
The rain cancelled qualifying in the women's pole vault, and all entrants, including Cal alumna Allison Stokke, will advance to Sunday's final.
One former Golden Bear was in action on the opening night Thursday, and Travis Nutter (Cal '98) placed 16th in the men's hammer with a best mark of 217-8. In addition, volunteer assistant coach Amy Haapanen finished fourth in the women's hammer with a lifetime best of 231-8, a mere six inches from the third-place spot.
Several Cal alumni will be in action Saturday: Ryan Young (men's javelin), Tracey Stewart (women's triple jump) and Ed Wright (men's high jump) in addition to Montano in the 800 semis. Meet highlights will be carried on NBC from 8-9 p.m. ET/PT. For a complete television schedule of the trials, click here.
U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials
Q - qualified for semifinals