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U.S. Olympic Trials: 5 Pac-12-centric events to watch this weekend

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EUGENE, Ore. – Hayward Field history was made during Wednesday's hammer throw completion at the 2016 United States Olympic Track and Field Trials. For the first time in the venue’s history, the hammer was thrown on the infield of the track, rather than the traditional hammer ring outside the immediate area.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials are halfway over, but plenty of action involving Pac-12 athletes remains in the final days.

The hammer throw competition saw six current or former Pac-12 athletes throw, but no more Olympians – as of now. While USC’s Conor McCullough placed third in today’s competition, he has been just shy of hitting the mandatory Olympic “A” standard for Rio qualification. However, given the required field size, it is not uncommon for the governing body to accept athletes who qualified for their country, but did not hit the standard. That being said, McCullough is likely to make the team and compete in Rio. Sun Devil Maggie Ewen fared best on the women’s side for Pac-12 athletes, finishing 9th overall with a best throw of 66.35m (217 feet, 8 inches).

The hammer throw was the only event to have a final round in the past two days, due to the “rest days” where minimal action that takes place in the middle of this 10-day competition.

Here are three events to watch to #BackThePac in the final days of the Olympic Team Trials:

1.     Men’s 1500m  A total of 10 athletes competing in the men’s 1500m hail from the Pac-12 – and eight of those 10 are Oregon Ducks. Notably is 2012 Olympian Matthew Centrowitz who holds Pac-10, NCAA  and World Indoor titles. He’s hot off his first world championship and running at his home track here at Oregon, so it promises to be a good show. The first round of the men’s 1500m runs on Thursday at 7:21 p.m. The semifinal round runs on Friday at 4:12 p.m. and the final runs on Sunday at 5:20 p.m.

2.     Women’s 100m hurdles  The U.S. women’s 100m hurdle field is the deepest in the world. The 11 fastest times in the world so far this year have come from American women. Amongst this deep field are six Pac-12 athletes, including UCLA’s Dawn Harper Nelson, a two-time Olympian and currently the 13th fastest woman in the world so far this year.  The first round runs on Thursday at 5:02 p.m. The semifinal round runs on Friday at 3:58 p.m. and the final runs later that evening at 5:54 p.m.

3.     Women’s 200m  Three Ducks, three Trojans and one Sun Devil will be representing the conference in this event, which will undoubtedly offer just as much (if not more) drama than the women’s 100m that ran earlier this week. Former Duck Jenna Prandini will join current Ducks Ariana Washington and Deajah Stevens on the line. USC follows this same pattern, sending alumna and Olympian Allyson Felix with two current Trojans: Deanna Hill and Alexis Faulknor. The Sun Devils will be represented by alumna Charonda Williams. Felix has already qualified for Rio in the 400m, but is trying to make history by achieving the 400m-200m double at the Games. The first round runs Friday at 3:30 p.m. The semifinal runs Saturday at 5:03 p.m. and the final runs Sunday at 5:11 p.m.

4.     Men’s 5,000m  At 41 years old, Washington State alum and multi-Olympian Bernard Lagat is still a heavy favorite to make the team and head to Rio. Joining him on the line are Ducks Eric Jenkins and Galen Rupp, who has already qualified for the Olympic Games in both the marathon and 10,000m. Stanford wraps up the Pac-12 participation in the event with alum Garrett Heath being joined by current Cardinal Sean McGorty. These men have already made it through the qualifying round and will race the final on Saturday at 5:20 p.m.

5.     Men’s 110m hurdles  Not only is the women’s side of this event stacked, but the men’s is too. Five of the athletes competing hail from Pac-12 schools, but the one to keep an extra eye on is Oregon’s Devon Allen. The two-sport athlete is both the NCAA and USATF champion in this event and is the heavy favorite to repeat as the national champion this week.  The first round will run on Friday at 3:02 p.m. The semifinal round runs on Saturday at 4:25 p.m. and the final later that evening at 5:52 p.m.

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