Five athletes — two pole vaulters, two discus throwers and one middle-distance runner — with connections to the state advanced to event finals at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene Monday night. Brad Walker, Scott Roth, Jarred Rome, Ian Waltz and Bernard Lagat, will try to secure 2012 Olympic berths later this week.
Walker, a 2008 Olympian, and Roth, who is seeking his first Olympics, vaulted 17-8 1/2 and were in a group of 12 who advanced from a field of 20 for the finals Thursday. Both are from the University of Washington. Walker is the American record holder in the event, having soared 19-9 3/4 1 in 2008.
Rome, a Marysville-Pilchuck High School and Boise State graduate, was third in the discus preliminaries with a throw of 202-10, while Waltz, a Washington State graduate, was fifth with a heave of 201-1. The top 12 throwers advanced to Thursday’s finals.
Lance Brooks, representing Nike, won the preliminary round of the discus with a toss of 212-7.
Walker, who attended University High in Spokane, was a favorite in the Beijing Games but failed to clear a height after an evening disrupted by problems with the vault standards.
Roth concluded his UW career in 2011 by winning NCAA championships both indoors and outdoors. He won two NCAA indoor titles during his UW career.
Rome, the USA Outdoor champion in 2004 and 2011 and an Olympian in 2004, had throws of 196-1, 199-3 and 201-1. Waltz, an Olympian in 2004 and 2008, had throws of 201-1, foul, 200-2.
Lagat finished second in the prelims of the 5,000-meter run, clocking 13:42.83 to Lopez Lomong’s 13:42.81. The top 16 advanced to the finals Thursday.
Lagat, a 2000 Washington State graduate, has won Olympic medals in the 1,500 meters at Sydney in 2000 and in the same event at the 2004 Games in Athens. He won the gold medal in the 5,000 meters at the World Championships in 2007 at Osaka, Japan.
Lagat also has seven victories in the famed Wanamaker Mile at New York’s Millrose Games.
Another athlete with Washington state connections, triple jumper Blessing Ufodiama, a Nigerian and a 2009 Washington State graduate, failed to qualify for the London Games, finishing 10th in a field of 12 with a best leap of 43-3 1/2.