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Olympic Track And Field Preview, Pac-12 Edition

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Previous Pac-12 Olympic previews: Women's soccer | Men's basketball | Men's swimming | Women's swimming | Men's rowing | Women's rowing

At the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. this past June the nation watched as Oregon graduate Ashton Eaton set a world record in the decathlon, scoring 9,039 points in front of a record-capacity roaring stadium of 21,795. The previous best was 9,026 set in 2001 by Czech Republic’s Roman Sebrle. Eaton’s record was the first world record set at the Trials since 1996 when Michael Johnson ran a 19.66 200m race in Atlanta. It was also the fifth time an American set a decathlon world record at the Trials. Eaton needed to run better than a 4:16.23 in the 1500m to break the world record. He followed Curtis Beach and Joe Detmer for the first three-and-a-half laps before crossing in 4:14.48.

Reigning Olympic champion and former UCLA star Dawn Harper out-sprinted Kellie Wells and Lolo Jones in the 100m hurdles in a winning 12.73. It was the second national title in the 100m hurdles for Harper, who also won in 2009.

After finishing in a dead heat for third with Jeneba Tarmoh in the 100m at Olympic Trials, three-time World 200m champion Allyson Felix (USC) will run the 100m after Tarmoh decided she did not want to compete in a race-off for the spot.

Cyrus Hostetler’s javelin split in half in mid-air on his first throw attempt at the Olympic Trials and with his second he qualified with a 74.74m/245-2. The 2010 Oregon graduate is a two-time NCAA All-American and two-time Pac-10 champion from 2010 (77.21m/253-3) and 2009 (76.32m/250-4). At the 2011 Pan Am Games he was runner-up (82.24m/269-9) and at the 2011 USA Outdoor Championships Hostetler earned third (77.84m/255-4). He holds both Pac-10 and Oregon records.

Four-time USA Outdoor champion Alysia Montano (Cal) ran the fastest qualifying 800 semi in 2:00.25 at the Trials. Her split of 400 was 55.65. Montano won Outdoors in 2012 (1:59.08), 2011 (1:58.33), 2010 (1:59.87) and 2007 (1:59.47). The 2007 Pac-10 Women’s Track Athlete of the Year also was a 2006 NACAC U-23 champion (2:03.87), the 2007 NCAA Indoor (2:03.47) and Outdoor (1:59.29) champion and at the 2010 World Indoor Championships a bronze medalist (1:59.60).

Jenny Simpson (Colorado), the American steeplechase record holder (9:12.50), will be competing in the 1500m in London. At the Olympic Trials she finished third in the event (4:05.17) and at the 2008 Trials she was third in the steeplechase (9:33.11). Internationally, Simpson is the 2011 World Championships gold medalist in the 1500m (4:05.40). As far as U.S. competition fairs, Simpson is a four-time USA Indoor Champion, winning two titles in 2012 (1500m and 3000m) and two in 2011 (mile and 3000m). She’s also a two-time USA Outdoor steeplechase champion from 2009 (9:29.38) and 2007 (9:34.64), a 2011 USA Outdoor runner-up (4:05.66) and a third-place finisher in the 5000m (15:33.33) at the 2010 USA Outdoors. She’s a three-time NCAA champion from 2009, 2008 and 2006 and is the 2009 NCAA Indoor Champion in the 3000m.

37-year-old Bernard Lagat (Washington State) holds seven American records, including the indoor in the 5000m (13:07.15) and outdoor (12:53.60), the event in which he’ll be competing in at London. He was runner-up at the Trials (13:22.82). This past year Lagat became just the second man – next to Ethiopia’s Haile Gebreselassie – to win three World Indoor titles in the men’s 3000m. In 2010 he was the first American to win both the 3000m and 5000m at the IAAF Continental Cup, while setting the American record in the indoor and outdoor 3000m and outdoor 5000m. Also in the record books, Lagat has the most Wanamaker Mile wins (eight) in the Millrose Games. In 2007 he won the first gold medal by an American in the 1500m at the World Outdoor Championships and the first Olympic or World Championships gold for the U.S. since 1908. He’s also the first to win the 1500m and 5000m double at World Outdoors and the first American to win a World Championship medal in the 5000m. Lagat is an 11-time NCAA All-American in cross country and track & field. He won silver in the 1500m at the 2004 Olympics and bronze in 2000.

Meb Keflezighi (UCLA), from Eritrea, won the 2009 ING New York City Marathon in 2:09:15, earning his fourth national title of that year. He became the first American man to win in New York since 1982. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Keflezighi became the first American since 1976 to win an Olympic medal in the men’s marathon, earning silver. His medal gave Team USA its 25th of the Games, becoming the most successful Team USA track & field since 1992. Keflezighi moved with his family, including 10 siblings, to San Diego, Calif. in 1987 and became a U.S. citizen in 1998.

Ryan Hall (Stanford) is the American half marathon (59:43) and 20 km (57:54) record holder, a three-time NCAA cross country All-American and the Stanford 5000m record holder (13:22.32). At the 2008 London Marathon he posted the second-fastest marathon time ever by an American in 2:06:17. In his debut marathon in 2007 he ran 2:08:24, the fastest ever debut time by an American. At the 2006 World Cross Country Championships he ran the fastest time by an American. Hall is the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon champion (2:09:02), the 2007 USA Half Marathon champion (59:43) and the 2006 USA Cross Country champion in the 12k (34:38).

On Oct. 31, 2008, the then-USC-sophomore Bryshon Nellum was shot three times in both of his legs. Doctors told the most decorated high school sprinter in California history that he would most likely not regain his world-class speed, but here he is competing in the 2012 London Olympics, running in the 400m and 4x400m relay. The 2012 Pac-12 Outdoor champion ran a personal best 44.80 seconds to finish third in the 400m finals at the 2012 Olympic Trials. He is the 2007 USA junior champion (45.38).

60 total Pac-12 athletes will be competing in track & field.