Trotter In Good Position in 400

Nick Symmonds, a graduate of Williamette University, outran the University of Oregon's Andrew Wheating in the 800.
Nick Symmonds, a graduate of Williamette University, outran the University of Oregon's Andrew Wheating in the 800. (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
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By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

EUGENE, Ore., June 30 -- As Nick Symmonds blasted down the straightaway in the men's 800 final at the U.S. Olympic trials in track and field Monday night, the crowd went nuts. When Andrew Wheating came around the outside, climbing from the back of the pack to just behind Symmonds, the crowd went even crazier.

Finally, when the 20,000 fans packed into Hayward Field realized Christian Smith had survived a collision at the finish and had claimed third, they surely violated some local noise ordinances with their explosion of riotous approval.

Three local boys had made good, all in a mere two laps around the track. Symmonds, a graduate of Williamette University, finished in 1:44.10, followed by Wheating, a sophomore at the University of Oregon, in 1:45.03. Claiming the third and final Olympic team spot in the event: Smith, an Oregon Track Club member, in 1:45.47.

"I cannot say enough about that crowd," said Wheating, 20. "All I heard was screaming . . . I do honestly believe that Oregon goes 1-2-3 because of that crowd."

Though both made thrilling moves at the finish, Symmonds, who stands 5 feet 10, sneaked out of a log jam in the middle and burst to daylight. Wheating, who at 6-5 is unusually tall for the distance, used his long, loping strides to spin around the outside of a thick pack of runners.

"I'm able to fit in these pockets that other people can't find," Symmonds, 24, said. Wheating, he added, "is a freak."

Reston's Green Is Last

Reston's Nikeya Green finished last in the final of the women's 800 after sitting in third place for much of the first lap of the race.

Green, a training partner of Alan Webb's under Coach Scott Raczko, got left behind at the 400 mark as eventual winner Hazel Clark, a two-time Olympian, and Alice Schmidt pulled ahead.

Clark finished in 1 minute 59.82 seconds. Schmidt clocked a 2:00.46 and Kameisha Bennett claimed third in 2:01.20. Bennett, however, has not achieved the Olympic qualifying standard, meaning fourth-place finisher Nicole Teter likely will claim her spot.

Green crossed the line in 2:07.05. The time was more than three seconds slower than she had run in the semifinals.

The field was jammed with 12 runners rather than eight after a referee's decision advanced one entire 800 semifinal Saturday rather than only the top four. A collision during the race had wiped out half the field. Though the collision occurred in Green's heat, she had avoided it. Teter was among those felled in the wipeout and advanced by the referee. . . .

Bernard Lagat, the reigning world champion, shocked no one when he accelerated around the last turn of the 5,000 final, cruising to victory in 13:27.47. American two-mile record holder Matt Tegenkamp finished second in 13:29.68, ahead of Ian Dobson, who was third in 13:29.76. Lagat, who competed for Kenya in the 2000 and 2004 Games, will also try to make the team Sunday in the 1,500.

Trotter in Good Position

Olympic relay gold medal winner Dee Dee Trotter accidentally slammed her left leg in the door of her Cadillac in the garage of her Knoxville, Tenn. home two months ago. While trying to yank some bags out of the front seat, she said, the door swung nearly closed, causing a fracture of her femur.

When she surveyed the swelling, assessed the pain and got the diagnosis, she feared she had destroyed her chances of making her second Olympic team. But her chances remained alive even after Monday's semifinals of the 400 meters. Trotter posted the third-best qualifying time of the night, her finish in 50.90 seconds trailing only Mary Wineberg (50.57) and Sanya Richards (50.75).

Trotter noted that she had finished eighth in 53.31 at the May 31 Reebok Grand Prix in New York City.

"I'm feeling very blessed," said Trotter, who won a gold medal on the 2004 4x400 relay team. "Just six weeks ago I thought I likely wouldn't be here." . . .

West Springfield High's Nick Welihozkiy finished tied for 17th in the first round of the hammer throw late Monday night and did not advance. The Stanford graduate managed a heave of 219 feet 2 inches.

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