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Utah's lone rep at NCAA track meet is peaking at the right time

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 4:27 a.m. MDT

Rosalie Waller, Utah Cross Country and track September 11, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah (Photo/Steve C. Wilson) (STEVE C WILSON, Courtesy University of Utah Athletics) Rosalie Waller, Utah Cross Country and track September 11, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah (Photo/Steve C. Wilson) (STEVE C WILSON, Courtesy University of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY — Rosalie Waller is peaking at the right time. The Utah senior has made steady progress in the 800 meters over the past three seasons. So much so, in fact, that she’s set to conclude her career as the Utes’ lone representative at this week’s NCAA outdoor championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I’m so grateful for how my last season has gone, and my whole experience at the U. has been really great,” Waller said. “But it’s really rewarding to see all the hard work over the years paying off. Going into this season my goal was to make it to nationals. So it was a couple of weeks ago when I qualified for this meet and it was really a complete moment to have gotten there from all of that hard work."

Waller will run in the semifinals Wednesday at Oregon’s Hayward Field. Should she advance, the finals are scheduled for Friday evening. This is the eighth time in nine years that a Utah athlete has qualified in the event.

“It’s definitely an honor to be here and I’m excited to represent the U.,” Waller said. “I’m also missing having my teammates here. It’s nice to have your teammates.”

Despite going at it alone, Waller is determined to finish her career off with a good race. She’s hoping for the best Wednesday and would be very excited to qualify for Friday.

“She’s not here just to be here,” Utah track coach Kyle Kepler said. “She’s not just happy to be here.”

Getting to the NCAA meet, he added, is a big deal considering there are approximately 12,000 female track athletes in the nation and Waller is one of 24 semifinalists in her event.

Reaching the elite, though, took time — although Waller made steady progress along the way. She began running the 800 in earnest in 2012. After placing seventh in the Pac-12 and 44th in the NCAA preliminaries that year, Waller upped her finishes to sixth and 20th, respectively, in 2013.

This season, Waller ran a personal-best time of 2:04.71 in the Drake Relays before going on to finish second in the Pac-12 and third in the NCAA preliminary quarterfinals. Kepler and Waller credit associate head coach Burke Bockman for much of her rising success.

Waller, though, handles things well. She was a state champion in the hurdles as a senior at Bountiful High. In college, the married 22-year-old was recently given the Bud Jack Award for her 3.99 grade-point average in biomedical engineering.

“She’s very intelligent, very thoughtful — just a wonderful human being,” Kepler said.

And a fast one, too.

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