Julie Jenkins, the former NCAA 800-meter champion from Plain City and BYU, was one of three Utahns to advance to the finals of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.
Jenkins, running under control and just fast enough to qualify for Monday evening's final, placed third in her semifinal heat of the 800-meter run with a time of 2:02.40. She was just a step behind Joetta Clark (2:02.14) and Debbie Marshall (2:01.95).Jenkins was content to run from behind the entire race, amid the jostling of the pack, but she promised the final would be different. "I won't waste energy moving around people and letting them (cut) in," she said. "I'll go with the leader and stay with her."
That's at least partly because Jenkins wants to avoid the pitfalls of running in a tight pack, a lesson that was brought home in the second heat of the women's 800. Essie Washington, the U.S. national champion who handed Jenkins her only loss of the year, fell while leading the pack at the 300-meter mark and narrowly missed placing among the top four qualifiers. Washington gamely jumped to her feet and resumed her race, much to the crowd's approval, but she finished fifth in 2:04.35.
The second heat was won by Kim Gallagher, the 1984 Olympic silver medalist who is making a comeback after sitting out the past couple of years. Gallagher clocked 2:00.62 and was followed closely by Delisa Walton-Floyd (2:01.10) and Karol Davidson (2:01.76).
If the heats are any indication, the final will be fast and Jenkins probably will have to break the two-minute barrier for the first time to make the team.
"(Monday) will be a new chapter in the book," vowed Jenkins.
Shortly after Jenkins runs in the 800 finals, two other natives of the Ogden area also will be competing in the finals of the javelin. Terry Okelberry and Niki Nye both survived Sunday's qualifying round to advance to Monday night's final. Nye, a former Roy High School and Weber State athlete who recently finished her collegiate career at Texas, finished ninth with a throw of 177-0. And Okelberry, a junior from Weber State (and Weber High) was 11th with a throw of 172-2 on her third and final attempt.
Russ Meldrum, a BYU graduate who is attending the University of Utah medical school, wasn't quite so fortunate. He threw 204-2 and placed 14th in Sunday's qualifying round of the hammer throw. The top 12 advance to the final.