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NCAA track and field championships: Gonzaga’s James Mwaura misses Olympic qualifying deadline, appealing decision

UPDATED: Thu., June 10, 2021

James Mwaura’s time in the 10,000 last week at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., was good enough to earn him a spot in the U.S. Olympic Trials.  (Courtesy of Gonzaga athletics)
James Mwaura’s time in the 10,000 last week at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., was good enough to earn him a spot in the U.S. Olympic Trials. (Courtesy of Gonzaga athletics)
By John Blanchette For The Spokesman-Review

James Mwaura’s thrill in bettering the qualifying standard for the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on Wednesday night was hit with a cold shot of agony on Thursday.

The Gonzaga sophomore’s entry missed the deadline established by USA Track and Field, Gonzaga coach Pat Tyson confirmed.

An appeal has been filed to USATF’s Entry Appeals Committee.

Mwaura’s time of 27 minutes, 50.44 seconds in finishing ninth in Wednesday’s 10,000-meter run at the NCAA championships in Eugene was well under the Trials qualifying standard of 28:00. Qualifying marks must be made before Sunday to be recognized, with the Trials beginning June 18 – and the 10,000 final that day.

But the original entry deadline for the meet was Monday, then extended a day. Athletes could enter without a qualifying mark, though they would need to reach the standard by Sunday in order to compete. Mwaura’s previous best was 28:27.49.

“Blame that one on me,” Tyson said. “We didn’t have him on the radar to improve by 37 seconds in what’s normally a strategic race. No one had ever broken 28 minutes in this meet before.”

In the rejection response from USATF, the organization noted that late entries were not permitted, and that the entry date was established “after the NCAA regionals along with several high-level domestic and international meets that were held this same weekend.”

“I’m naïve, I guess, but I don’t see how they would bend the deadline to include those meets, but not the NCAA championships,” Tyson said.

Tyson said the appeals committee is supposed to meet by Tuesday “and there are some athletes on it, so we’re hopeful.

“We just don’t want James hurt by something that was maybe neglected by the coaching staff.”

Mwaura, who is also qualified in the NCAA 5,000, will compete in that race Friday.

EWU’s Fossen 10th in pole vault: Eastern Washington senior Morgan Fossen tied for 10th in the women’s pole vault Thursday in Eugene.

Fossen cleared a height of 13 feet, 9¼ inches, the second height of the competition. She failed her three attempts at 14-1¼.

Fossen’s mark is a personal best.

LSU’s Lisa Gunnarsson won the event at 14-5¼.

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