EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon saw three more alums qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
On a sunny day before 22,497 fans at Historic Hayward Field, Matthew Centrowitz and Andrew Wheating became Olympians in the men's 1,500 meters, while Rachel Yurkovich joined them in the women's javelin.
In one of the deepest 1,500 fields in history, Centrowitz and Wheating survived a scramble to the finish and placed second and third, respectively. Leonel Manzano won in 3:35.75, with Centrowitz second in 3:35.84 and Wheating third in 3:36.68. Former Duck Jordan McNamara was seventh in 3:37.79.
"This is my first USA team. I'm very excited," said Centrowitz. "I just wanted to put myself in a good position. I knew I was fit and I wanted to come out with top 3."
It will be the first Olympics for Centrowitz, the 2011 NCAA champion at 1,500 meters, and the second for Wheating.
"Around 400 meters to go I realized I was in a deep hole," said Wheating, who won both the 800 and 1,500 NCAA title for the Ducks as a senior in 2010. "I tried to keep an open lane. I came off the turn, saw the finish line and just kicked as hard as I could."
Earlier in the day, Yurkovich used a fourth-place finish in the women's javelin to earn a trip to London.
The two-time NCAA champion had a best throw of 186-6/56.85m on her fifth attempt.
"I'm going to the Olympics and I'm elated, but this was a little bit of a sting," said Yurkovich. "I'm just trying to look forward. I've been having great practices and I'm upset those didn't translate. I'm fully aware what I'm capable of. I know I have the potential to throw far."
Those three bring the total to nine Oregon alums who have qualified for London Olympics, joining Americans Ashton Eaton (decathlon), Becky Holliday (pole vault), Cyrus Hostetler (javelin) and Galen Rupp (5,000 and 10,000 meters), Canadian Brianne Theisen (heptathlon) and Australia's Zoe Buckman (1,500 meters).
The 2012 Trials also set attendance records, as 173,153 fans passed through the Hayward gates for the competition on the track with another estimated 5,000 to 7,000 each night watching in the Fan Festival.
"Our challenge was to make this better than 2008, and we coined the term 'Best Meet Ever,' said TrackTown12 co-chair Vin Lananna. "First and foremost, this meet was for the athlete. Second, it was great to see the performances by the athletes.
"The Hayward Field magic is great for everybody. I think the fans cheer louder for the Oregonians, but they appreciate any good performances."