Friday, June 22, 2007

Alicia Rue Makes Pan American Juniors Team

University of Minnesota freshman pole vaulter Alicia Rue earned a trip to the Pan American Games in Brazil next month with her runner-up finish in the pole vault this afternoon at the Finishline USA Junior Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis.

Rue, who finished 6th in the meet last year as a recent Armstrong High grad, cleared 13-1 1/2 to finish second to Tori Anthony who vaulted 13-3 1/2.

Rue had misses at every height except her opener, but still edged bronze medalist Natalie Willer, who also cleared 13-1 1/2, by having fewer misses at the last cleared height.

"It was a very good day for me," Rue said. "The height that I missed was an attempt at my PR, so I was happy with that. It's been a long season of college, so I wasn't sure how it would go. But, I was confident coming in."

Gopher coaches believe Rue is the first current Golden Gopher female to make a USA team while a member of the Minnesota track team.

Gopher head coach Matt Bingle saw only positives in Rue's finish.

"For her, coming off the [NCAA] national meet where she no-heighted, to rebound mentally and physically and come back to a meet like this to make the Pan Am team is awesome," Bingle said. "It's pretty awesome for her and it's a great experience because we think she can be a phenomenal athlete. We think this type of experience now, as a freshman, is just wonderful."

Bingle volunteered special praise for vault coach Caroline White.

"She's done a tremendous job," Bingle said. "At the Big Ten outdoor meet, we scored 17 points in the in the pole vault. It's a huge commitment for us with the vault -- we love the vault -- and she does a great job with it."

In other early afternoon action ... Milers Ben Blankenship of Stillwater High School and Andy Richardson of Irondale advanced to the finals of the junior men's 1500 meters. Running in the same heat, Blankenship placed 3rd in 3:51.11 to advance automatically while Richardson finished 8th in 3:55:87 to qualify on time.

Blankenship split 61.6 -- with Richardson leading through 300m -- and 2:07.6 going out, but charged home in 1:59.9 and 57.5. A. J. Acosta won the heat and leads all qualifiers with 3:50.52.

Hill-Murray's B.J. Otto finished a non-qualifying 10th in the 200 meters 22.51.

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