Inside Athletics

Foster and McNeill leading qualifiers on rain delayed opening day of NCAA championships


ryan fosterTasmania's Ryan Foster caused a surprise on the opening day of the NCAA championships, clocking the fastest heat time in the men's 800m, whilst David McNeill took out his heat of the men's 5000m with a calculated, controlled run.

The 20 year old, who is attending Penn State University, slashed his personal best by 1.2 seconds to take out the fourth and final heat of the event in 1:47.56. His time makes him the second fastest Australian this calendar year behind Lachlan Renshaw's 1:47.18 run at the Melbourne World Athletics Tour meet.

Speaking to FloTrack.com following the event, Foster explained his approach to the race:

"I wasn't going to waste the opportunity for a fast time by backing off in the last hundred," he said. Foster had passed through the bell in second place in a swift 51.85 seconds before making his move for home with 200m remaining.

"I actually looked up at the big screen and I wouldn't have been able to anyway," he added.

The finish of the race was tight, with only five hundredths of a second separating the three automatic qualifiers, with the fourth placegetter snaring a place in tomorrow's semi-finals less than three tenths of a second further behind.

High winds and an electrical storm delayed the evening's events, with the David McNeill and Genevive LaCaze's participation in the heats of the 5000m not taking place until after 1 am local time. The late (or depending on your point of view, early) running of the race didn't phase McNeill, who patiently sat in second place in closely bunched field until the final 800m of the race, where he asserted himself as the pace quickened. In the end, a final last lap of 57 seconds, most of the pace which was put on over the final 200m, saw McNeill streak away for the win in 13:57.73. Behind him the favourite for the event, Galen Rupp, who in less than 24 hours will contest the 10000m, comfortably qualified for the final in 4th place.

LaCaze's performance wasn't as notable, finishing 14th in her heat in time of 17:46.21 - a minute and a half outside of her personal best set earlier this year.

Earlier in the day Zoe Buckman successfully moved through to the semi-final round of the women's 800m, placing third in her heat in 2:05.46. A fourth placegetter in last year's championships, Buckman led her heat through the bell in 61.56 seconds and finished within half a second of the heat winner, Pilar McShine of Florida State University.

In the field Simon Wardhaugh was third in his pool of the men's hammer throw qualifying round with a throw of 66.72m to be the fifth ranked qualifier for the final.

The entire footage of Ryan Foster's interview with FloTrack can be found below:



Photo courtesy of Track & Field Photos

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