Waltz and Lagat win events, head to China

EUGENE, Ore. — Washington State graduates Ian Waltz and Bernard Lagat won their events Sunday on the warm and blustery final day of the USA Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Both will return to the Olympic Games, Waltz for the second time and Lagat for the third time.

Waltz won the men’s discus final with a throw of 216-feet, 1 inch (65.87m). Waltz, originally from Post Falls, Idaho, was a 2004 Olympian as well as the 2005 and 2006 US discus champion. Now training out of the USA Olympic facilities in Chula Vista, Calif., Waltz entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the men’s discus with a personal-record of 226-0 (68.90m), thrown this past spring in Salinas, Calif.

In post-event quotes posted on the USA Track & Field website Waltz said, “I went out there in warm-ups and basically took it really easy, trying to groove in some technique. I maybe had some 61-meters throws. The competition started and I felt pretty good. After that, I knew my leg was going to be fine. I was able to crank it up a little bit like I normally do. I think my timing was still a little bit off because I haven’t thrown hard the last week and a half. I thought I threw well and it feels good to be going to Beijing. It was a great day overall having my friends and family here. I wasn’t prepared as well as I could’ve been but sometimes rest is a little better during this stage of the year. It’s amazing going into your final throw knowing you’re the Olympic Trials champion. It’s pretty cool.”

Matt Lamb, a redshirt junior at Washington State, finished 10th in the men’s discus final with a toss of 194-10 (59.38m) coming on his third, and final, throw of the day. Lamb, from Emmett, Idaho, threw a PR discus distance of 204-7 (62.36m) during the July 3 Olympic Trials qualifying round.

Lagat, winner in the men’s 5000m race at the Trials June 30, won the men’s 1500m final Sunday with a time of 3 minutes, 40.37 seconds. Lagat was the 2007 IAAF World Champion in both the 1500m and 5000m. Lagat won the Silver medal in the 1500m at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and the Bronze medal in the same race at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games as a member of the Kenyan team. The 2008 Olympic Games will be his first as an American citizen.
In post-event quotes posted on the USA Track & Field website, Lagat said, “My coach told me that there was no pressure [in this race], that I can run with anything that develops. The goal was to just stay out of trouble. We almost had it happen today, but we were able to get out of it.” Lagat commented on immigrant qualifiers: “It feels good. It shows that America is the place where dreams can happen. I can’t find that in Europe or in my country. The three of us are living the American dream. My goal now is to do my best for this country. It was different for me last year [at World Championships], but in a different way. In Kenya I was wearing red and green, but now I get to wear red, white and blue.”
Jon Jeffreys, from Spokane Valley, Wash., finished 12th in the men’s javelin final after tossing a distance of 210-feet (64.01m). Jeffreys fouled both his first and third throws today after throwing a distance of 230-9 (70.34m) in the qualifying round July 4, just below his PR of 237-4 (72.35m).

Arend Watkins did not advance from the men’s 110m hurdles semifinals after running a wind-aided time of 13.87 seconds which was 14th overall with eight moving to the final. Watkins ran a time of 13.53 in the Saturday quarter finals (12th) after running a time of 13.48 in the qualifying round (17th). Another WSU alum, Dominique Arnold, ran a time of 13.59w (19th) in the qualifying round of the men’s high hurdles, but then false started in the quarter finals and was removed from the competition.

The track and field (international term is athletics) events at the 29th Olympic Games will be held in Beijing from August 15-24, 2008, at the National Stadium in the Olympic Green.