US Olympic track and field trials: Utah athletes, both new and old, excel on first day


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EUGENE, Ore. — Friday morning, Grant Fisher formally joined the Utah running community through a partnership with Run Elite Program.

By Friday evening, he formally became the first American male track and field athlete to punch his ticket to the Paris Olympics.

The 27-year-old Stanford product who runs for Nike won the men's 10,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic trials Friday at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, clinching one of three spots in the event with Team USA in 27 minutes, 49.47 seconds.

Woody Kincaid and Nico Young also qualified for the event in 27:50.74 and 27:52.40, respectively — one second ahead of adidas pro Drew Hunter. Fisher will attempt the double next week when he runs the 5,000 meter in Eugene.

The Nike sponsored athlete revealed last October that he had left long-time club Bowerman Track Club, the only pro club he had known. Fisher, who was born in Calgary, Alberta, but grew up in Grand Blanc, Michigan, then said earlier this year that he had relocated to Park City to train under the direction of Mike Scannell.

"I knew deep down it was the right move," Fisher explained after his win. "It was a hard decision to leave Bowerman, a risky decision because it was the only thing I had known. But I knew in my heart, it was the right time. I knew I was ready for a change. I didn't know how I would do it at first, how I would replace the great training partners I had, the coaching I had, the physio I had, the comprehensive setup Bowerman provided.

"But I slowly pieced it together and I'm really happy with where it is," he added. "The result today is a culmination of setting up this great system around myself. I don't think I would've been ready to branch out on my own like this when I first came out of college. But last year, I was ready. This year was validation."

The American record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters participated in several meet-ups and events with Run Elite Program, the state-funded program designed to attract elite distance running talent to the Beehive State. On Friday morning, REP — which was founded by former Olympic marathoner Jared Ward, Salt Lake Community College head coach Isaac Wood and former BYU-Hawaii soccer player Landon Southwick — had signed Fisher as one of five athletes to their growing professional roster.

Among the other professionals signed to new contracts were Kenneth Rooks, the former NCAA steeplechase champion from BYU who won his Olympic trials heat to advance to Sunday's final; Courtney Frerichs, the world silver medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and former seven-time collegiate All-American; Emily Venters, the University of Utah alumna with five All-American honors; and Michaela Meyer, the former NCAA 800-meter champion for Virginia in 2021.

The quintet joins a roster of professionals that already included Ward, as well as Conner Mantz and Clayton Young, who will represent Team USA in the marathon in Paris; and Anna Camp Bennett, Whittni Orton Morgan, Sylvia Bedford, Jake Heslington and Michael Ottesen.

"What a great race by Grant Fisher to win the 10,000 meters at the Olympic trials. He pulled away with two laps to go and never looked back," Southwick said. "He is an amazing runner and has been training really well leading up to the trials. We are excited for him to make another U.S. Olympic team. It's awesome to have three Run Elite Program runners — and counting — headed to Paris this summer for the Olympics."

Seeking to add a 10,000-meter bid to his Olympic berth, Mantz finished sixth in the finals in Eugene with a time of 28:00.90. That was just behind BYU's Casey Clinger, the redshirting track and cross country star from American Fork who finished fifth in 27:59.71 on the same day he announced a name, image and likeness deal with Brooks running shoes.

Clinger's time ranks fifth all-time in BYU's history in the 10,000 meters.

BYU's Creed Thompson, a Skyridge graduate, finished 17th in 29:06.38. Former Utah State standout Dillon Maggard, who runs professionally with Brooks Beasts Track Club, did not finish the race.

Maggard will race again next week in the 5,000-meter run, along with Mantz.

Several other Utahns pulled through qualifying heats in their respective events. BYU junior Meghan Hunter finished ninth in her 800-meter prelim in 2;01.58 to qualify for next week's semifinals.

BYU's Lucas Bons qualified for the 1,500-meter semifinals with a 3:37.99 for 15th in the opening round. Javelin thrower Cameron Bates is through to the final after throwing 71.39 meters for seventh.

Weber State's Josh Trafny threw for 64.24 meters (210-9) for 20th in the javelin, while Wildcat teammate was 23rd in 57.68 meters (189-3).

Rooks and BYU rising junior James Corrigan both qualified for the 3,000-meter steeplechase final Sunday, with Rooks winning his heat in a breezy 8:26.90 and Corrigan finishing second overall in 9:21.22.

Corrigan's personal-best time ranks second in BYU history in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

"I probably moved a little bit too much early on in the race, but I didn't want to get stuck back in a bad position," Rooks told NBC after his heat." It was a little hectic, but it was good. I got the win, I feel good and I'm excited for the final on Sunday. I'm hoping to make my first Olympic team."

BYU alum Whittni Orton Morgan advanced to the 5,000-meter final with a preliminary time of 15:18.67, good for fourth place.

Weber State volunteer assistant Na'Asha Robinson finished 14th in the first round of the women's 400-meter run in 51.30 seconds to advance.

Recently graduated BYU sprinter Jaslyn Gardner finished 34th in the 100-meter dash in 11.56, but did not advance. Same for Danny Bryant, who threw 18.59 meters in the shot put qualifying round.

Utah State sophomore Logan Hammer tied for 20th in the men's pole vault with a clearance of 5.40 meters (17-8.5). His mark was tied for the seventh-highest clearance among collegiate athletes at the trials.

"The opening night was almost a foot higher than he's ever started and he handled it really well," Utah State coach Artie Gulden said of Hammer. "To get 20th at the Olympic trials as a sophomore is incredible and Logan should be very proud of his performance."

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