UCSB’s Ryan Martin got off to a quick start in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on Friday, June 22. He recorded the second fastest time in the quarterfinals of the 800-meter dash, crossing the finish line at Oregon’s Hayward Field in 1:46.92. Martin led his heat from the starting gun until the final stretch. Tyler Mulder of the Nike Oregon Track Club overtook him to win in 1:46.81.
None of the other three heats was that fast, but there is a lot of latent firepower in the runners who will compete in the semifinals Saturday at 4:45 p.m. Martin will run in the second semifinal against Mulder and Oregon TC’s Nick Symmonds, who is bidding for his fifth consecutive national championship. NCAA champion Charles Jock of UC Irvine, Martin’s rival in the Big West Conference, won his heat in 1:47.90 and will go in the first semifinal.
Amy Haapanen, a 2007 graduate of UCSB, made a strong bid for the U.S. Olympic team in the women’s hammer throw, the first event of the Trials. After making it into the final round as the ninth and last qualifier, Haapanen unleashed a throw of 231’8”, more than three feet beyond her previous all-time best, and finished in fourth place. The top three women, led by Amber Campbell of Nike with a toss of 235’6”, qualified for the London Olympics.
“I couldn’t ask for more than to come back in front of a huge crowd, and throw a meter farther than I’d ever done before,” Haapanen said. “It’s the country’s biggest meet in four years.” The hammer competition took place Thursday on a soccer field at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. A crowd estimated at 3,000 filled temporary bleachers and lined the edge of the field.
While at UCSB, Haapanen set school records in the hammer, discus and shot put. She works at the desk of the Holiday Inn at her hometown of Manteca and works out twice a day, “sometimes at midnight in a gym,” she said.
Stephanie Rothstein, another Gaucho from the Class of 2007, finished eighth in the women’s 10,000-meter final Friday night. She too set a personal record of 32 minutes, 24.25 seconds, and she improved from her 12th-place finish in the 2008 Trials.
The highlight of the day was Ashton Eaton’s blazing start in the decathlon. He ran the 100 in 10.21 seconds and flew 27 feet in the long jump. Both marks were decathlon world bests. Eaton finished the first five events with 4,728 points, 322 more than world champion Trey Hardee and ahead of Dan O’Brien’s American record pace.