BYU's Ted Mecham won his heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase Wednesday and advanced to the finals on opening night of the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Mecham, a sophomore from Spokane, moved from last place to first on the gun lap and coasted to the finish line, clocking 8:41.71.A number of other Utah collegians competed Wednesday in the preliminary rounds of the NCAA meet, which will run the remainder of the week and conclude on Saturday. Weber State's Darin Williams joined Mecham in the finals of the steeplechase by finishing fourth in his heat with a personal-record time of 8:44.97. Teammate Kris Cary did not finish.

BYU's Malcolm Hunsaker, a senior from Orem, qualified for the finals in the pole vault. He scaled the qualifying height of 16-71/2 on his first attempt to join 12 others in the finals. Teammate Dave Brannan failed to clear the height.

For the Utahns, the night's biggest surprise was the failure of BYU's Frank Fredericks to survive the 200-meter dash heats. Fredericks, the freshman star from Africa, finished ninth in his heat and missed advancing to the next round by .01 of a second.

There were similar disappointments in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles. Utah's Eric Chesley, the Western Athletic Conference champion, clocked 52.3 and failed to advance. BYU's Shaun McAlmont fell over the third hurdle and finished last in his heat.

BYU's Chris Wilson qualified for the finals of the high jump by clearing the qualifying height of 5-9 3/4 on her last attempt. Weber State's Paula John failed to qualify.