EUGENE, Ore. — Boxed out with only 200 meters to go, Isaiah Harris knew he had to make a move.

Harris, the Lewiston native who just recently completed his freshman year at Penn State University, chugged down the home stretch to win his preliminary round heat at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials on Friday, earning a spot in Saturday’s semifinals.

With most of the event’s top runners choosing to take it easy during the qualifying stages, Harris’ heat went out faster than the rest, which was to his benefit. As he’s done all season, Harris allowed the field to set the pace, and stayed within striking distance. Harris was seventh after 200 meters, sixth after 400 and third after 600, though the final 200 got a bit contentious when Harris tried to break to the outside and caught an inadvertent elbow in the chest.

He regrouped quickly and made a charge to the outside at the top of the final stretch, bolting past Casimir Loxsom, Shaquille Walker and fellow freshman sensation Craig Engels of Ole Miss to win the heat.

Harris races again Saturday in the 800-meter semifinals at 3 p.m. The event finals are Monday.

Harris wasn’t the only Maine athlete competing on the first day of the Olympic Trials on Friday.

Kate Hall, a jumping and sprinting sensation out of Casco and Lake Region High School, advanced to the final in the women’s long jump, popping off a jump of 21 feet, 7½ inches to finish eighth in qualifying. The top 12 qualifiers advanced to the women’s final set for 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

Hall last year set a national high school record at high school nationals with a leap of 22 feet, 5 inches.

Brittney Reese, who trains out of the Nike camp, leaped 23 feet even on her first jump, the longest of the qualifying round.

Ben True, a standout runner and cross country skier at Greely High School in Cumberland, was among the top seeds in the men’s 10,000 meters later Friday. True battled through congestion on the first couple of laps and settled in to the bottom half of the top 10 through most of the middle and latter stages of the race. After peaking in sixth position with three laps remaining, True faded to an 11th place finish.

In his race, Galen Rupp, Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir took the top three spots to punch their tickets to Rio.

Paralympic games

While a strong Maine contingent was tearing up the track in Oregon, an equally strong group was hard at work with its own qualifying in Charlotte, N.C. at the U.S. Paralympic Team qualifying meet.

Christy Gardner, a member of the U.S. Women’s Sled Hockey Team and a Lewiston-area native, earned two gold medals at the qualifier, winning the women’s 56/57 discus throw with a toss of 69 ¾ feet on Thursday, and backing that up with a women’s 34/56/57 shot put gold Friday after a heave of 25.9 feet.

On Thursday, Nick Rogers, 19, of Lisbon, placed fifth in the 200-meter dash, and on Friday qualified for the 100-meter dash finials. That race will be held Saturday.


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