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Hamilton, Runyan reach 1,500 final.

Byline: Ron Bellamy The Register-Guard

SACRAMENTO - Not just the weather will be steamy Sunday afternoon in Sacramento, because the action on the last day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials figures to be scorching as well.

Two Eugene athletes will be in the middle of two of the hottest finals, as both Marla Runyan and Becky Holliday advanced safely in the prelims of their events before 22,330 Friday night at Hornet Stadium.

Runyan, already on the Olympic team by virtue of her second-place finish in the women's 5,000 meters on Monday night, won her semifinal heat of the 1,500 in the fastest time of the evening, 4 minutes, 9.63 seconds.

Joining her in the final will be former Eugene resident Suzy Favor Hamilton, the form-chart favorite, and Janet Trujillo, who recently moved to Eugene from Albuquerque, N.M.

Holliday, meanwhile, advanced in the women's pole vault, clearing 13 feet, 9 inches.

"I was definitely feeling the 5,000 a little bit," Runyan said. "I did some quarters on Wednesday to see if I could come back tonight and I felt good Wednesday, but I felt a little more tired tonight. I hope I can freshen up (today) and give it a go on Sunday.

"It's going to be tough Sunday because it's going to be very, very hot, and that's going to be a factor."

The 35-year-old Runyan, an Olympian in the 1,500 four years ago - her personal best is 4:02.95, set in 2002 - shot to the front at the gun in her semifinal and never trailed.

"I wanted to be aggressive and confident and control a race," she said. "I've got nothing to lose."

She expects a fast race Sunday, if the heat allows. Not only will the runners be striving to finish in the top three to make the Olympic team, but they also know that only Favor Hamilton has the Olympic "A" standard of 4:05.80. While Runyan did a good job of handicapping the 5,000 finish on Monday night, she's not certain about the 1,500 final.

"I think I am in the top three, but this is a wide-open field, and nobody knows who's going to get it," she said.

Nor does she know whether she'll compete in both events in Athens if she makes the team in the 1,500.

"It's a moot point right now. We have to find out Sunday whether that's going to be an option, and then we'll reevaluate," she said.

Favor Hamilton finished second to Runyan in the semifinal heat, clocking 4:09.74. Trujillo, the former SEC champion from Auburn, finished sixth in that heat, one spot out of automatic qualifying, and reached the final based on her clocking of 4:10.66, fastest among the runners who advanced on time.

Holliday, 24, won the NCAA and Pac-10 titles last year, when she set the UO school record at 14-8 and made the team for the World Championships in Paris.

She's struggled this season, attempting to make the transition to bigger poles - to 14 feet, from 13-6 - and her best coming into the Trials is 14-5. She's returned to shorter poles for her most recent meet, and for the Trials.

Friday, she cleared both heights she attempted - 13-5 and 13-9 - on her first attempts, to be among the 14 vaulters who advanced to Sunday's final.

"I get more nervous for prelims than I do for final," said Holliday, competing in her first Olympic Trials. "Prelims get my jitters out. I'm really excited that prelims are over and that prelims went well. ...

"It felt great to be out there. It's like surreal being out there. You wait so long for this day, and then you wait around all day in your hotel room. But it was a lot of fun."

Holliday expects hot weather for Sunday afternoon's final but believes that she's ready to vault well.

"I think Sunday's going to be good," she said. "My rhythm's back, I feel really confident going in, and that's what you need. I'm ready to clear some high bars on first attempts, and that's what it takes."

Former Oregon vaulter Niki McEwen of Eugene cleared 13-5, but missed her three attempts at 13-9, finishing in a tie for 15th.

CAPTION(S):

Marla Runyan leads the pack out of the turn in her 1,500-meter semifinal. Runyan joins fellow Eugene resident Janet Trujillo and former resident Suzy Favor Hamilton in the event final. Rich Pedroncelli / The Associated Press Marla Runyan (right) and the rest of the pack in the women's 1,500-meter semifinal were able to avoid the fallen Treniere Clement (left). INSIDE Crain out: Eugene's Jenny Crain finishes 10th in the 10,000 / D6 Complete results / D6
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Title Annotation:Sports; The longtime rivals will face off on a steamy Sunday with Olympic berths on the line
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 17, 2004
Words:797
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