Calvert Hall grad gets last chance

Track and field trials

June 30, 2008|By Elliott Denman | Elliott Denman,Special to The Sun

EUGENE, Ore. -- Ryan Olkowski calls the U.S. Olympic track and field trials "my last hurrah."

But few believe the 28-year-old all-arounder from Calvert Hall and Penn State, who has announced several previous retirements only to come back faster and stronger than before.

His current comeback might rank as his best.

Midway through the decathlon at the trials, Olkowski stands seventh in the 20-man field with a score of 4,076 points that puts him in the middle of the fight.

Past world champions Bryan Clay (4,476 points) and Tom Pappas (4,405) and ex-NCAA champion Trey Hardee (4,454) are poised to claim the three spots on the American team bound for the Beijing Olympic Games.

But the three others ahead of Olkowski - Jangy Addy (4,249), Ashton Eaton (4,226) and Rickey Moody (4,111) - might be within reach heading into today's final five events.

He got through the first day with performances of 10.85 seconds in the 100-meter dash, 49.46 in the 400 meters, 41 feet, 3 inches in the shot put, 23-1 1/4 in the long jump, and 6-9 3/4 in the high jump.

Today he competes in the 110-meter high hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 meters.

"I'm kind of excited because a lot of people don't think I have a good second day," Olkowski said. "But that may change."

Meanwhile, Mechelle Lewis can be added to Maryland's roster of American Olympic athletes.

With her seventh-place finish in the women's 100-meter dash Saturday, the 27-year-old sprinter from Fort Washington can expect to be named to the U.S. pool of runners for the 400 relay event in Beijing. Even if she ran just the preliminaries in Beijing, she would be in position to return home with a medal.

Such was the depth of talent in the women's 100 final (won by LSU graduate Muna Lee in 10.85) that it took a lifetime best performance of 11.08 seconds for Lewis to place seventh.

Men's 100 meters -- Tyson Gay's time of 9.68 seconds doesn't count as a world record because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind, but Gay qualified for the team and served notice that he is someone to watch at the Beijing Games. The previous fastest time under any conditions was 9.69, run in 1996 by Obadele Thompson. Walter Dix overtook Darvis Patton in the final 20 meters for second place. Dix clocked 9.80, and Patton came in at 9.84. The official world record is 9.72 seconds, set by Jamaica's Usain Bolt on May 31 in New York.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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