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DES MOINES, Iowa (June 12, 2008) -- BYU senior Carlee Clark-Platt was the lone competitor for the Cougars on the second day of the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium in rain-soaked Des Moines, Iowa. After winning the third of four heats in the 800 meters on Wednesday with a time of 2:06.10 to advance to today's semifinals, Clark-Platt battled to a fourth-place finish in the second of two heats on Thursday with a lifetime best of 2:04.10 to earn the seventh of eight spots in Saturday's final.
"Oh, man. This is the highlight of my running career," Clark-Platt said after the race of earning her first-ever trip to the national finals. "You work so hard for so long, and to have this opportunity makes it all worth it."
Prior to the start of the race, Clark-Platt learned that one of the pre-race favorites, Alysia Johnson of California, would not be competing in the semifinals.
"I found out that she [Johnson] had scratched right before the race," Clark-Platt said. "We expected her to go out fast, so it forced me to change my strategy. I think that's where being a senior and having experience really helped. My goal was to make the top-three and make the finals."
Starting out of lane five, Clark-Platt was in second place behind Western Michigan's Beck Horn who went on to win the heat in a time of 2:03.73. Clark-Platt dropped back to third and held that position on the rail coming off the final turn. Heading down the final stretch, Washington State's Anna Layman came from the outside and caught Clark-Platt with just over 30 meters to go to take the third and final automatic qualifying spot. Forced out to lane two, Clark-Platt caught Layman but could not get past her as the pair crossed the line with only .07 seconds separating the two.
"I didn't feel her [Layman] coming," Clark-Platt said. "After she caught me, I had to give it everything I had. To be honest, it's easier to do the catching than it is to hold someone off."
Despite finishing fourth in the semifinals, Clark-Platt advanced on time with the seventh fastest time between the two heats.
After running on back-to-back days, Clark-Platt will take Friday off and enjoy some time with her husband—former BYU baseball player James Platt—her mother, and her in-laws, who have all traveled to Iowa to support her.
"It's been great to have their support out here," Clark-Platt said. "I'm looking forward to taking tomorrow off and spending the day with them and maybe even do some shopping."
Clark-Platt will be return to the track on Saturday to compete in the 800 meter finals. The race is scheduled to begin at 3:19 p.m. (CDT).
CBS College Sports Network (formerly CSTV) will begin its live broadcast of the NCAA Track & Field Championships from Des Moines on Friday, June 13 from 6-9 p.m. (MDT). CBS will broadcast live coverage of the final day of competition from 2-4 p.m. (MDT).