Heather Dorniden advanced to today's semi-finals of the women's 800 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships by winning her preliminary heat in 2:05.21. Dorniden's clocking was the second-fastest of the 16 runners advancing to the semi-final round.
Micigan's Katie Erdman, who was the #1 seed entering the meet, was the fastest in the prelims as well, timing 2:04.14. All the major contenders advanced to today's second of three rounds in the competition.
According to the Gopher press release, Dorniden took the lead in her heat after a fast opening 200 meters. The field ran the first 400 meters of the race in 59 seconds, the fastest quarter split of the prelims.
“That first 200 was fast,” Dorniden said. “When we came through at 59, I thought to myself that we’re working harder to get to the same place [the semifinals] than the other heats. It was a good race, though, because I’m sure someone will take it out like that in the next rounds."
Dorniden finds herself in today's second semi-final heat with reigning NCAA Indoor champ Alysia Johnson of California, UTEP's Fatimoh Muhammed, and Michigan's Geena Gall, who ran in Dorniden's prelim heat, as well, finishing second.
Also advancing for the Gophers on the track was senior steeplechaser Emily Brown, who clocked 10:07.44 to advance as the eighth-fastest runner from the prelims to Friday's final.
The rest of the Gopher contingent in Sacramento was less successful yesterday. Liz Alabi finished a non-advancing 18th in the hammer throw with a mark of 185-8. Alicia Rue missed all three of her attempts at the opening height of 12-3 1/2 in the pole vault. On the men's side, Derek Gearman was unable to advance in the high jump and long jump. The Gopher senior cleared 6-8 3/4, but was unable to make the 6-10 3/4 necessary to advance to the high jump finals. In the long jump, Gearman's 24-5 1/2 was less than five inches short of the mark needed to advance. He finished 17th in both events. Hammer thrower Adam Schnaible threw 201-02 on his first toss of the competition, but fouled on his next two and was unable to mark the 206-6 ultimately needed to advance. He finished 19th overall.
Competition resumes today at the meet. In the field, Schnaible will seek redemption in the shot put prelims, while Ruby Radocaj will open in the javelin. Gearman will return to battle, this time in the triple jump. On the oval, along with Dorniden's next round of racing, Gopher senior Antonio Vega will run the 10,000 meters.