For Immediate Use

June 22, 2012

Rupp, Eaton Lead Duck Alums at First Day of Olympic Trials

EUGENE, Ore. - Duck alum Galen Rupp became an Olympian for the second time and fellow alum Ashton Eaton set two world records in the decathlon on Friday, the first day of the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Rupp set a Trials record in winning the men's 10,000 meters in 27:25.33, despite running in a soaking downpour.

"I'm really happy with it," said Rupp. "It was my goal coming in to win. I feel lucky to run here at my home track. I had a rough lead coming into this race.

"Anytime you make an Olympic team, you're going to be ecstatic. Having that experience under my belt is good. You know what to expect and can relax more and focus on the race."

Also in the men's 10,000, Duck senior Luke Puskedra finished eighth in a personal-best 27:56.62. It was the first time under the 28:00 barrier for the Ogden, Utah, native.

"There are only two weeks in between the NCAA's and now," said Puskedra. "I am just happy wearing the UO uniform."

Eaton, also competing in unseasonably wet and cool weather, set world decathlon records in his first two events. The Bend, Ore., native and defending U.S. champion led the decathlon with 4,728 points.

He ran 10.21 seconds in the 100 meters and then unleashed a monster long jump at 27-0/8.23m. That was better than any of the nine men's long jump qualifiers on Friday. He also threw 46-7.25 in the shot put, cleared 6-8.75/2.05m in the high jump and ran 46.70 in the 400 meters.

"What you're seeing is a culmination of everyone who supported me," said Eaton. I just do not want to let anyone down."

In preliminary action on the track, a number of current Ducks fared well.

Sophomore English Gardner, the 2012 NCAA 100 meter champion got through her opening round with a third-place finish in 11.27 to advance to the semifinals.

"I just wanted to get out there and qualify," said Gardner. "I leaned in at the end so I was pretty confident I got third.

"I love my home crowd. They keep me going. I thank God every day for my fan base at University of Oregon."

Sophomore Laura Roesler finished third in her opening round heat of the women's 800 meters in 2:03.11 to move on the semifinals. Late in the race, the Fargo, N.D., native avoided disaster by hurdling a fellow competitor who fell right in front of her.

"I felt really good," said Roesler. "I definitely had a smile on my face and I came here to do what I did, so I am happy.

"That is the most relaxed I have been and most fun I have had at a race before."

In the men's 800, junior Elijah Greer took second in his preliminary heat to advance. The Lake Oswego, Ore., native times 1:47.42.

"At 300 meters I made a move and finished second," said Greer. "I made a lot of bad moves, accelerations weren't needed. Tomorrow, I don't want to make the same mistakes. The last 200 meters was perfect energy for that round."

Sophomore Phyllis Francis placed third in her first round heat of the women's 400 meters in 52.82 to advance to the semifinals. Former Duck Keshia Baker also advanced by taking second in her heat in 52.02.

"All I wanted to do was qualify," said Francis. "I was a little nervous, but I tried not to stress too much. I could have run faster, but I'm proud of myself."

Sophomore Mike Berry finished sixth in his men's 400 heat in 46.29 and did not advance.

Also Friday, due to the heavy rain, the women's pole vault was postponed until Sunday. Former Ducks Melissa Gergel and Becky Holliday are in that field.

-www.goducks.com-