June 23, 2012
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
It was a good day to be a Seminole at the U. S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Ore. Saturday as sprinters Maurice Mitchell and Walter Dix advanced in the 100-meter dash, along with Michelle Jenijein the triple jump.
Dix, a double bronze medalist as the 2008 Olympic Games, qualified fourth overall from the preliminary rounds. He won the first heat in 10.03 seconds, just edging Darvis Pattion (10.06).
Mitchell, who just capped his Florida State career with an NCAA 200-meter title, qualified eight overall in 10.13. The 13-time All-American finished second to Michael Rodgers (10.05) in the third heat.
FSU Director of Sprints, Hurdles & Relays Ken Harnden, who is coaching Mitchell, liked what he saw on a day when the damp and cool conditions were less than ideal.
"People were shutting it down and messing around, including Mr. Mitchell high-kneeing it from 40-60 [meters], but it was a good day," Harnden said. "His reaction wasn't great but his start was spectacular. I was very happy with it."
Dix and Mitchell will be in the same semifinal heat Sunday (5:30 p.m., ET) at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus, where they will be joined by former Florida standout Jeff Demps, who qualified 12th in 10.18, and Rodgers. Mitchell and Dix drew lanes four and six, respectively, in the third heat.
The top two finishers from each of the three heats will advance to Sunday's 100-meter final, which is set for a 7:48 p.m. start locally. The top three finishers in the finals will represent the U.S. at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
"It's a pretty decent heat," Harnden said. "You've got to run. It's the Olympic Trials. There's no free lunches."
Jenije made the most of her first Olympic Trials appearance, qualifying ninth for the finals of the triple jump with a best effort of 13.17m (43-2.50) in windy and rainy conditions. By finishing in the top 12 she earned three more jumps in Monday's finals round, where she must still meet the Olympic A-Standard of 14.30m.
“It’s just amazing the fans that come out," Jenije said of her first Trials appearance. "It’s a completely different atmosphere. … It’s pretty amazing to see that and see all of the best athletes in America and the world right beside you, it’s unreal.”
Advancing to the finals added yet another chapter to Jenije's incredible senior season with the Seminoles.
“I definitely have to be thankful to live to jump another day," she said. "I’ve got to bring it on Monday and see what happens.”
"I'm happy with the outcome," FSU jumps coach Dennis Nobles said of Jenije's performance. "The marks don't carry over to Monday, so the whole objective today was to be top 12, which she was. [I'm] Hopeful that Monday will be a nicer day and better effort. I'd like to see her jump better than she has."
Another athlete with FSU ties, Seminole signee Ajee Wilson, finished 14th in the semifinal round of the 800-meter run. Wilson, who will enroll at FSU in August, posted a qualifying mark of 2:03.63 on Friday which ranked 15th.
In addition to the 100-meter men's competition, former Seminole star Lacy Janson will get her long-awaited crack at the pole vault. Friday's competition was rained out, putting the Tallahassee resident's bid for her first Olympic team on hold. Janson is projected to make the team according to Track & Field News' form chart. The pole vault competition begins at 4 p.m. (ET).