Austin Tracksters Heading to Beijing

Local runners, jumpers, and throwers do well in Eugene

Former Longhorn Sanya Richards, in the 400 meters, offers Austin its best hope for a track & field gold medal
Former Longhorn Sanya Richards, in the 400 meters, offers Austin its best hope for a track & field gold medal (photo courtesy of IAAF)

I just spent an amazing week and a half in Eugene, Ore., watching the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials. As a rabid track fan, I'm still dizzy from the experience – the University of Oregon's Hayward Field is an historic track stadium, the sport's equivalent of Yankee Stadium or the Rose Bowl, and this was my first trip to a national championship meet.

A quick roundup of how Austin/UT athletes fared (A finish in the top three, provided the athlete meets Olympic qualifying standards, guarantees a spot on the American team):

Leonel Manzano, 1500 meters, 2nd place This event summed up what makes America great: None of the three athletes making the team were born in the United States. Winner Bernard Lagat won the 2004 Olympic gold for his native Kenya, but then became an American citizen. Manzano, a two-time NCAA champ for Texas, was born in Mexico but grew up in Marble Falls. And third-placer Lopez Lomong is a refugee from the violence in Sudan.

Andra Manson, high jump, 2nd Former NCAA champion for the Longhorns.

Trey Hardee, decathlon, 2nd Broke the NCAA record for the 10-event sport while at Texas.

Marshevet Hooker, 200 meters, 3rd Former Longhorn NCAA champ qualified in dramatic fashion, tripping at the finish line but still crossing .01 of a second ahead of the fourth-placer. She also placed fourth in the 100, missing a team spot in that event by .03, despite clocking the best time of her life.

Sanya Richards, 400 meters, 1st Austin's best hope for a gold medal. Plagued by illness last year, she placed fourth at nationals and thus didn't make the U.S. 400 squad for the world championships. Other than that, she had a sterling 2007 and ended the season ranked No. 1 in the world. Now she seems ready to win the big one.

Michelle Carter, shot put, 1st Another former NCAA champ for the Horns; her father is 1984 Olympic silver medalist Michael Carter.

Not making the team:
Michael Rodgers (Round Rock), 100 meters, seventh
Jacob Hernandez, 800 meters, fifth in semifinals
Jermaine Cooper, 110 meter hurdles, seventh in quarterfinals
Derrick Williams (Round Rock), 400 meter hurdles, seventh in heats
Jacob Morse, 3,000 meter steeplechase, fourth
Alexandria Anderson, seventh in semifinals of the 100, sixth in semifinals of the 200
Bianca Knight, fifth in the 200, fifth in semifinals of the 100
Temeka Kincy, 800 meters, did not finish her heat
Destinee Hooker (Marshevet's sister), high jump, 6th
Nichole Denby, 100 meter hurdles, fourth: former Longhorn NCAA champ now living in Illinois, she missed the team by a painful seven-one thousandths of a second! Such is the heartbreak and drama that makes the trials so amazing.

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Olympic Games, U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials

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