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Symmonds, Montano win Olympic Trials 800m

Eugene, Ore. – Soggy conditions didn’t hold local favorite Nick Symmonds as he defended his Olympic Trials title, and Alysia Montano earned her first Trials title as 13 athletes earned a spot on Team USA for the Olympic Games in front of a crowd of 21,626 fans at Hayward Field.

Following the same script that saw him lead an historic Oregon-area sweep of the top three spots at the 2008 Trials, Symmonds used a 27.09 last 200 to defend his title with a stellar 1:43.92. The only man closing quicker than Symmonds was ageless Khadevis Robinson, who was seventh at the 600 mark and sprinted the last 200 in 26.83 to take the second spot on the London squad with a 1:44.64. That put him .01 ahead of former USC star Duane Solomon, who used a big personal best to claim the final Olympic berth at 1:44.65.

Playing catch-me-if-you-can for the umpteenth time in her career,  Montano sped through the first 400 of the women’s 800m in 55.87 and had to hold off a late charge by Geena Gall and Alice Schmidt to pick up her fourth U.S. title in 1:59.08. Gall was the fastest in the field over the final furlong to place second at 1:59.24, with Schmidt clocking 1:59.46.

Jamie Nieto finished fourth in the high jump at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and Monday the 35-year-old made his second team with a first-attempt clearance at 2.28m/7-5.75. Kansas State’s NCAA champion Erik Kynard also made that height on his first try, as did Arizona’s Nick Ross, but World Champion Jesse Williams needed three attempts and ended up fourth overall. Fortunately for Williams, and unfortunately for Ross, the Arizonan does not have the Olympic A standard, so Williams will have a spot on the Olympic team.

Young guns ruled the day in the men’s javelin, with the biggest surprise coming from Texas A&M’s Sam Humphreys. The NCAA runner-up at Des Moines two weeks ago, Humphreys added more than two meters to his lifetime best in the second round with a massive 81.86m/268-7 winner that saw him move to fifth on the all-time U.S. collegiate list. Oregon’s Sam Crouser waited until his final attempt to bust the 80-meter barrier, moving to second with an 80.80m/265-1 throw, and Craig Kinsley matched his third-place finish from 2011 with a 79.92/262-2. Kinsley and the two men who finished in fourth and fifth, Sean Furey and Cyrus Hostetler, will make up the London squad by virtue of having previously achieved the Olympic A standard of 82.00m.

Only one person in the women’s triple jump field had even the Olympic B standard of 14.10m, and poor conditions virtually guaranteed that no one else would meet the standard. D as defending national champion Amanda Smock won with a leap of 13.94m/45-9. Veteran Sheena Gordon had a lifetime best of 13.83m/45-4.5 to place second, with NCAA bronze medalist Andrea Geubelle of Kansas taking third.

Heat two of the men’s 3,000m steeplechase was significantly faster than the first section, producing the five fastest times to advance to the final. Danniel Huling won that heat in 8:29.00 to help drag the first four men under 8:30. Evan Jager and American collegiate record holder and NCAA champion Donn Cabral of Princeton took the top two spots in heat one, with Jager clocking 8:30.60 to edge Cabral by .04. 2008 Trials runner-up William Nelson was the last man into the final at 8:35.22.

In the preliminary round of the women’s steeplechase none of the top three finishers from the ‘08 Trials were entered so it fell to last year’s U.S. and NCAA champion Emma Coburn of Colorado to lead the way with a solid 9:43.19 in heat one for the fastest time of the day. 2011 runner-up Bridget Franek won heat two in 9:44.05, and this year’s NCAA winner Shalaya Kipp, another Coloradoan, was the fifth-fastest advancer. 

Surprisingly good performances came from the soggy qualifying round in the men’s discus, led by a 64.80m/212-7 toss by Lance Brooks in the first round. All four men who have Olympic A standards advanced to the final, taking the 2-5 spots on the list of 12. Defending Trials champ Ian Waltz, Jarred Rome, Jason Young and Russ Winger have all surpassed 65.00m/213-3 during the qualifying period.

Only 11 men cleared a height in pole vault qualifying, which was briefly suspended due to inclement weather. Defending Trials champion Derek Miles was one of the survivors clearing 5.30m/17-4.5, and this year’s World Indoor bronze medalist, Brad Walker, made it through with a 5.40m/17-8.5 effort. NCAA indoor champ and American Junior record holder Andrew Irwin of Arkansas was the biggest casualty, failing to clear a height.

NCAA champion Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth was the fastest qualifier for the women’s 5,000m final, winning the first heat in 15:41.14 ahead of Julie Culley’s 15:41.29. The top five times heading to the final came from that first section. Liz Maloy and American Record holder Molly Huddle finished together at the front of heat two, with Maloy getting the win in 15:46.00. Amy Hastings, the 10K winner on Friday, just missed advancing.

American Record holder and 2007 World champion Bernard Lagat finished side-by-side with Lopez Lomong in the second section of the men’s 5,000m, Lomong getting the nod by .02 at 13:42.81. The top eight times going into the final came from the second heat. Andrew Bumbalough and Galen Rupp also finished .02 apart in the first section, with Bumbalough winning in 13:46.80. U.S. mile record holder Alan Webb faded badly in that heat to finish at 14:01.25.

Full live resultsathlete quotes and start lists for tomorrow’s competition can be found

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