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Walker, Lagat win spots on U.S. Olympic track and field team

University HS graduate Brad Walker reacts after clearing the bar in the pole vault final at the trials. (Associated Press)
University HS graduate Brad Walker reacts after clearing the bar in the pole vault final at the trials. (Associated Press)

EUGENE, Ore. – Brad Walker, the former University High School and University of Washington star, won his fourth U.S. pole vault title, clearing 18 feet, 7 1/4 inches at the Olympic track trials Thursday night for a spot on the U.S. team for the London Games.

Jeremy Scott was second at 18-4 1/4, and Scott Roth third at the same height, but Roth does not have the Olympic “A” standard this season of 18-9 1/4 required to compete in the Olympics.

The third spot on the team went to fourth-place finisher Derek Miles, who finished fourth at the Beijing Games.

Walker set the American record of 19-9 3/4 at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field in 2008. He finished third in the Olympic trials that year before no-heighting in Beijing.

“I’m not happy with the height, but I’m happy with the win, and the win is more important than the height,” Walker said. “I definitely wasn’t happy with what happened in Beijing. I can put it behind me in a healthy way and use it as motivation. I won’t completely forget about it, but it’ll be safely out of the way.”

In a thrilling finish to end the night, Galen Rupp caught former Washington State star Bernard Lagat in the 5,000 final, a scintillating race that came down to a sprint at the end.

Rupp finished in a time of 13 minutes, 22.67 seconds, significant because it broke meet record set by the late Steve Prefontaine nearly 40 years ago.

Rupp outkicked one of the best. Lagat is 37, but he still has the energy of a youngster.

“He’s 1 for 13 against Lagat now,” cracked Rupp’s coach Alberto Salazar, who said Rupp will run both the 5,000 and 10,000 in London. “I was going to joke afterward that if Galen had lost today, we still have another five years to beat Lagat. We figure we can get him when he’s around 45.”

Julie Culley (women’s 5,000), Evan Jager (steeplechase) and Lance Brooks (discus) also won.

Ian Waltz (Washington State/Post Falls) just missed out on qualifying for the Olympics in the men’s discus, throwing 201-2 to place fourth. Russ Winger (University of Idaho) was fifth at 200-11.

Brooks didn’t have an Olympic standard coming in, so Waltz would have made the team by placing fourth. But Brooks got the “A” standard by 6 inches on his last throw to bump Waltz from the team.

Former Washington State athlete Jeshua Anderson ran 50.49 seconds in his heat to qualify for today’s semifinals of the men’s 400-meter hurdles. Anderson had the third-best time in his heat and No. 9 overall. The top 16 moved on.