May 24, 2012
A series of mixed results saw three Gophers advance to the quarterfinals during Thursday's opening day of action of the 2012 NCAA Men's Track & Field West Preliminary in Austin, Texas. The trio now have a chance to advance to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines.
Nick Huttongot the Gophers off on the right foot with a strong performance in the 1,500-meter run, crossing the line in a time of 3:46.10. It was the second fastest 1,500-meter time of the season for the junior, who placed second in his heat and fifth overall in the preliminary rounds. Hutton will race for a spot at the NCAA Championships on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (CT).
Freshman Marcus Paulson, who posted the Gophers' top 1,500 meter time this season, also competed in the 1,500 but suffered a bout of bad luck when he was tripped. The fall caused him to fall off the pace in his heat and he was unable to make up enough ground to join Hutton in the quarterfinals.
Senior David Pachuta and junior Harun Abda, who were paired in the same 800-meter preliminary heat, also punched tickets to the quarterfinals and will race again Friday at 7 p.m. (CT). Pachuta won the heat with a time of 1:48.79 that was the second-fastest time of the opening round. Abda, meanwhile, finished third in the heat with a time of 1:48.85. Travis Burkstrandalso competed in the 800, but did not qualify for the quarterfinals.
In the 100 meters, junior Sean Kingran a 10.54 for his third-fasted time of the season but finished seventh in his opening round heat and also did not advance to the quarterfinals.
Both senior Trey Davis and freshman Mark Jenningshad solid throws in the shot put but were unable to advance beyond the preliminary round. Davis' placed 18th with a put of 57-09.00 and just missed moving on to the final round of 16, while Jennings' heave of 56-04.00 was good enough for 28th.
A solid effort by junior Pieter Gagnonin the 10,000 meters was also not enough to advance. Fighting high temperatures on the track, Gagnon finished back in the pack in the 48-athlete field that saw only the top 12 competitors qualify for the NCAA Championships.
"It was kind of an up-and-down day," said head coach Steve Plasencia. "This regional is tough and you're going to have to fight for some things. We were hoping that we would have a few more advance, but we have a long way to go and there is still a lot to look forward to."
Fans interested in following the action may do so via the University of Texas' live webcast of the West Preliminary at www.texassports.com/allaccess/.
Blankenship, Mead Shine in Olympic Finals
Mead and Blankenship recorded the best Olympic finishes by Gophers since Staffan Strand finished sixth in the high jump for Sweden during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Blankenship Punches Ticket to Olympic Final
Ben Blankenship (1,500) and Hassan Mead (5,000) will run in Olympic finals on Saturday night.
Mead Moves on to Olympic 5,000 Final
Mead races in the 5,000 meter final at Olympic Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT.