May 25, 2012
Four Gophers punched their tickets to Des Moines, Iowa, and the 2012 NCAA Men's Outdoor Track & Field Championships and a fifth advanced to the quarterfinals during Day 2 of the NCAA West Preliminary Friday in Austin, Texas.
Juniors Quentin Mege and Micah Hegerle placed second and sixth, respectively, to advance to the NCAA Championships at Drake in the hammer, while senior David Pachuta and junior Harun Abda both qualified in the 800-meter run. In the 200 meters, junior Cameron Boy advanced to Saturday's quarterfinal of the NCAA West Preliminary.
"All in all it was a very good day," said head coach Steve Plasencia. "In terms of realistic qualifiers we got all four of our guys through. So from that standpoint it was a very good day. These qualifying events are tough but the guys have done well so far. We are looking forward to tomorrow and getting as many of our athletes through to the finals as possible."
Mege, the Minnesota school record-holder in the hammer, recorded a throw of 215-03 on his second attempt before fouling on his third throw of the day and passing on his remaining three attempts. The distance was Mege's second-best throw of the season. Hegerle's second throw of 208-05 was also his best of the day and his second-best of the season. Sophomore Jon Lehman was in action in the hammer as well, but his throw of 192-09 was not enough to advance as he finished the competition in 21st place.
Pachuta clocked a time of 1:47.78 in what was to be the fastest 800-meter heat of the quarterfinals. Despite running what would turn out to be the fourth-fastest time of the day, the senior, who placed fourth in his heat, had to wait out the remaining heat to see if his time would hold up, as only the top three finishers in each heat were guaranteed NCAA qualification. It did and Minnesota had two national qualifiers in the event, with Abda placing third in his heat with a time of 1:49.17.
In the 200-meter dash, Boy ran a personal-best time of 20.99 to qualify for the quarterfinals. Similar to Pachuta, Boy placed fifth in one of the faster heats of day, then had to play the waiting game for three more heats to see if his time would stand up.
Sophomore Bobby Nicolls competed in the final event of the day, the 3,000-meter steeplechase but suffered an early fall came up short in his bid for NCAA qualification.
The final day of the 2012 NCAA Men's Track & Field West Preliminary will take place on Saturday. Field events kick things off at 11 a.m. The track events get underway at 6 p.m.
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 Joins Mead on Olympic Team
A native of Stillwater, Minn., Blankenship took third in the 1,500 meter final at Hayward Field, clocking a 3:36.18.
Mead Punches Olympic Ticket
The Minneapolis, Minn., native ran a 13:35.70 at Hayward Field to earn his first bid to the Olympics.
Blankenship Paces Semis at Olympic Trials
The Stillwater, Minn., native led the field with a time of 3:44.24 in Friday's semifinals.