Walker Wins Trials, Heading For London
June 28, 2012
U.S. TRACK & FIELD OLYMPIC TRIALS
EUGENE, Ore. - Brad Walker climbed aboard the Team USA plane to London today, winning the pole vault at the U.S. Olympic Trials and returning to his sport's biggest stage for the second time. The former Husky won his fourth U.S. Outdoor Championship and first since 2009, and can no compete for the one thing missing from his trophy case, an Olympic medal.
Walker has World Championship gold and owns the American record in the pole vault, but his previous Olympic experience in Beijing in 2008 ended in heartbreak as he no-heighted. A string of injuries then hampered him the past few years, but over the past year Walker showed he was returning to form. He won the U.S. Indoor title earlier this year and then won bronze at the World Indoor Championships in Turkey.
Today, in less than stellar vaulting conditions at Oregon's Hayward Field, Walker was the only competitor to clear 18-feet, 7.25-inches. Fellow Husky NCAA Champion Scott Roth was battling for a spot as well, and his Olympic chances were on his own pole, so to speak. Roth was one of just five vaulters to make 18-4 ½, and he then passed up to 18-9 ¼, which is the Olympic "A" standard that all competitors need to make it to London.
Roth cleared that mark once indoors and once outdoors during his UW career, but he had not cleared it recently enough to fall in the qualifying window. So Roth had three attempts at the bar, knowing that if he made it, he would finish top-three and make Team USA. Unfortunately, the steady rain helped no one, and Roth did not get up and over. He finished third, with fourth-place finisher Derek Miles making the Olympic team since he had previously cleared the "A" standard. Still, it's the best ever finish for Roth at a U.S. Outdoor Championships.
The women's 1,500-meters opened up the day at Hayward with the first of three rounds this afternoon. Sophomore Katie Flood, running for the first time since her NCAA Championship win earlier this month, was in the second of three prelim heats. Joining her in that heat was eight-time Husky All-American Katie (Follett) Mackey. Flood and Mackey were up near the front together early, but the pack remained bunched up. Mackey crossed third in a time of 4:14.28, getting one of six auto spots, but Flood slipped to ninth in the finishing pack, running a time of 4:15.45.
So Flood would have to wait the results of the next heat to see if she would get one of the time qualifiers. The third heat was slower, and Flood's time in fact would have won heats one or three, so she moved on to the semifinals along with Mackey. The semis will be tomorrow at 3:45 p.m.
The men's discus final got gong in the evening, with former Dawg Will Conwell in his second Olympic Trials final. The day was not up to Conwell's hopes, however, as he threw 182-8, then 179-3 on his first two attempts. Needing to improve to get into the top-eight and earn three more attempts, Conwell threw 188-4 on his third try, but it wasn't quite enough, as he finished 10th-place.
Tomorrow will see Flood and Mackey in the women's 1,500-meters, and Jordan Boase is also scheduled to return to competition in the 200-meters. Boase had made the semis of the 400-meters but did not start due to a foot injury.