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Feast or Famine for ONU on Day 1 of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships

May 22, 2008

By Gary Petit

OSHKOSH, WIS.- It was feast or famine for the members of the Ohio Northern track & field competing on Day 1 of the 2008 NCAA Track & Field Outdoor Championships on the campus of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Junior Jimmy O'Brien won his heat of the 1,500-meter run while junior Dani Noe was disqualified in her heat of the 400-meter hurdles and senior Ryan Robertson fouled on all three of his attempts in the long jump.

O'Brien, who entered the 1,500-meter run with the top time, won his heat in a time of 3:54.68. He qualifies to Saturday's finals with the fastest time in the field.

"The pace was pretty good and I ran a pretty good race," said O'Brien. "My goal was to get out in front and move on to Saturday. That's the goal with these type of races."

He started the race on the inside lane, and as the runners crossed the finish line the first time, O'Brien found himself comfortably in third place.

Midway through the second lap, O'Brien swung out to lane two for positioning and found himself in second place as the pack crossed the line a second time.

"I didn't want to get boxed into lane one," said O'Brien. "I saw the opening and slipped out there and that was what let me make a move to the front."

He made his move on the third lap, as he opened up a 2-meter lead down the backstretch and cruised the last 600-meters on the inside lane to win the heat.

"Jimmy ran a perfect race," said ONU assistant coach Jason Maus. "It was exactly how we scripted it and he controlled the race from start to finish."

Before the 1,500-meter finals on Saturday afternoon at 4 pm EST, O'Brien will run the 800-meter prelims on Friday at 7:30 pm EST. He is the defending champion in the event and owns the top qualifying mark of 1:48.45.

Noe, making her first appearance at the NCAA Championships, crossed the line fifth in her heat at 1:03.21, just .14 of a second off her qualifying mark. However, it was discovered after the race the Noe was disqualified for "hooking" a hurdle.

"I'm a little disappointed with the DQ but it was still an awesome experience," said Noe. "I was a nervous leading up to the race but once we got going, it was fun. It was a good opportunity for me and it gives me a good goal to shoot for next year."

Despite the disqualification, Noe still ran a solid race. Her unofficial time of 1:03.21 was 16th in the 18-women field.

"Dani ran a good race and this experience was good for her," said ONU head coach Brian Cole. "It's unfortunate she got disqualified but she will take the positives from this experience and she'll get back here next year."

In the long jump, Robertson was the second to last jumper in the second heat, so he knew what he needed to do to make it to the finals, but the Pickerington-native had a toe over the line on all three attempts.

Robertson, a four-time All-American, was making his fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He finished sixth and earned All-American honors at the 2006 and 2007 Outdoor Championships and finished third to earn All-American honors this past winter at the 2008 Indoor Championships.

As a freshman in 2005, Robertson earned his first All-American honors as a member of the 4x100-meter relay team that set the school record in both the prelims and the finals.

Day 2
------------------------------------May 22, 2008

By Gary Petit

OSHKOSH, WIS.- Ohio Northern junior Jimmy O'Brien continues to run well, winning his heat of the 800-meter prelims Friday evening to advance to Saturday's final at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on the campus of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

O'Brien's time of 1:52.06 was the fastest time of any of the 17 competitors. He takes the top time into the finals on Saturday in both the 800-meter run and the 1,500-meter run.

The Pemberville-native, started the race in lane nine and as the field came off the stagger, O'Brien found himself a step ahead of the pack.

He slowly made his way into lane two over the next 200-meters and ran shoulder-to-shoulder with Matt Kramer of Wisconsin-Superior.

At the start of the second lap, Kramer slipped ahead of O'Brien and opened up a slight lead. O'Brien stayed close to Kramer down the backstretch and once the runners hit the final straight away, O'Brien used his tremendous kick to overcome the senior and win the heat.

"The goal today was to get to the finals and thats what I did," said O'Brien. "The pace was about what I expected and I'm happy with how I went."

ONU assitant coach Jason Maus was also pleased with O'Brien's race. "Jim ran another real good race today. He was in control the entire time and he did what he needed to do to get to the finals."

O'Brien will try to become the first Polar Bear to win two national titles at the same meet. He will run the 1,500-meter finals at 2:30 pm EST and the 800-meter final at 4 pm EST.