AUSTIN, Texas — Senior Nick Karren advancing in the 400 meter hurdles highlighted Utah State track and field’s action Thursday in the first day of competition at the NCAA Championship West Region Preliminary Round, in Austin, Texas at a hot and humid Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium, hosted by the University of Texas.Karren advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals of the 400m hurdles with a time of 51.36. The top three finishers in each heat plus the next six fastest times advanced, as Karren finished fourth in his heat, but was the No. 20 qualifier, as his time was faster than three automatic qualifiers from other heats.”Today Nick ran just like he’s done all year, it wasn’t pretty but it got the job done,” veteran USU head coach Gregg Gensel said. “He did all the things he needed to do to advance and move on to the next round.”Karren advances to Friday’s quarterfinals for the opportunity to advance to the National Championships. The top three finishers from each of Friday’s three heats, plus the next three fastest times advance.”He learned some things about warming up and running in this heat and humidity that will help him tomorrow. I think he’s going to have a great run tomorrow,” Gensel said.Karren was the only USU competitor to advance out of the eight Aggies in action Thursday.”I’m very happy with how everyone competed today. They just were up against some very tough competition,” Gensel said.Junior Sonia Grabowska just missed advancing as she finished tied for 14th with a season-best vault of 4.10m (13-05.25), as the top 12 finishers advanced. Finishers nine-12 cleared 4.15m (13-07.25), the height that Grabowka went out on. Grabowska’s 4.10 height is not only a season-best but the top mark of a USU women’s pole vaulter this season and the second-best height of her career behind her USU record jump of 4.21m (13-09.75) set last year.”Sonia had a season-best height and jumped really, really good, she just missed on advancing,” Gensel said. “I’m very pleased with her performance.”Another Aggie who just missed out on qualifying was junior Mike Pyrtle, who was 27th with an time of 10.61. Pytle missed qualifying by hundredths of a second as the 24th-place finisher and final qualifier Philip Redrick of Texas Southern ran a 10.5879, while No. 25 Adam Hebert of Texas-San Antonio ran a 10.5914, 26th-place finisher Keyth Talley of North Texas was 10.6014 while Pyrtle was officially clocked at 10.6051. Fellow Aggie junior Armahd Lewis was 30th with a 10.65 time.In the women’s 800, senior Elaine Connolly was 34th in a 2:10.54 time while in the men’s 800, fellow senior Jason Holt was 45th with a 1:52.58 time.Sophomore Brian McKenna led five laps in the early going of the men’s 10,000m, an event whose start time was pushed back roughly 30 minutes to allow the heat index to lower and which saw six runners not finish. McKenna finished 37th with a time of 31:40.24.”Brian ran a great race. It started slow and he went out and took the lead. Give him credit, he ran his heart out and ran really well,” Gensel said.Junior Joe Canavan got injured while warming up for the men’s shot put and did not compete.Action continues Friday and Saturday, as fans can follow along by watching live on the Internet or through live results, with eight more USU athletes competing.Athletes are trying to qualify for the 2010 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championships, June 9–12 at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., hosted by the University of Oregon.NCAA Championship West Region Preliminary RoundMay 27-29, 2010Austin, TexasUtah State Day 1 ResultsWOMEN800m – 34. Elaine Connolly, 2:10.54.Pole Vault – T14. Sonia Grabowska, 4.10m (13-05.25).MEN100m – 27. Mike Pyrtle, 10.61; 30. Armahd Lewis, 10.65.400m Hurdles – 20. Nick Karren, 51.36q.800m – 45. Jason Holt, 1:52.58.10,000m – 37. Brian McKenna, 31:40.24Shot Put – Joe Canavan, DNS-injury.-USU-
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