EUGENE, Ore. (Sporting Alert) — LaShawn Merritt leads all qualifiers from the preliminary round of the men’s 400 metres at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene on Friday.
The reigning Olympic champion posted 45.36 seconds to take heat 1 of the first round races, beating Bryshon Nellum (45.58) and prep star Aldrich Bailey (45.59).
Defending national champion and recently crowned NCAA gold medal winner Tony McQuay of Florida, was on top of heat 2 with a time of 45.41secs, the third fastest of the round.
Josh Mance was the second fastest this evening with a time of 45.38secs, and he led home Joey Hughes Jr and Gil Roberts, who both ran 45.64.
The other heat winner was Manteo Mitchell and he ran 45.70 with NCAA star Torrin Lawrence following him, at 45.82 and Jeremy Wariner taking third with 45.84.
On the women’s side, Francena McCorory was most impressive – registering the fastest time on the evening at 51.11 when taking heat 1.
Amongst the other qualifiers were Sanya Richards-Ross (51.69), winner of heat 2, Debbie Dunn (52.24), who followed her in that race, while Natasha Hastings went 51.86 to take the third heat.
Dee Dee Trotter won the last heat with 51.64, with Kansas’ Diamond Dixon (52.66) amongst those making it from that heat.
The semi-finals are set for Saturday.
Ashton Eaton is also off to a good start in the men’s decathlon – notably posting a fast 10.21 seconds to win the opening race of the multi-event, the 100m.