EUGENE, Ore. — This one took a little bit more “umph.”

Sitting in fifth position for most of the first heat, Isaiah Harris could feel the pace picking up. Notoriously a closer, Harris is used to having a few runners in front of him over the final 200 meters of an 800-meter race. But Saturday, at the U.S. Olympic Trials, the caliber of the runners in front of him forced Harris into action a bit earlier than normal.

Gritting his teeth down the home stretch, Harris vaulted across the finish line, pushing his body so far forward that he tumbled to his knees.

That extra effort was worth a fourth-place finish in his heat, and the fourth-fastest time overall in the semifinal round, as Harris qualified for the 800-meter final to be run Monday night.

“I’m happy with how I executed everything,” Harris told letsrun.com after the race. “There’s nothing else I really could have done.”

Harris, a multi-sport athlete at Lewiston High School who just completed a breakout freshman season at Penn State, navigated two laps at Hayward Stadium in 1:45.95, just two-hundredths of a second out of third place in his heat, which turned out to be the faster of the two heats by far.

Still breathing heavily, Harris paid little attention to the second heat during his post-race interview.

“I don’t think I could make it over to a TV right now,” Harris said with a laugh.

The heat has toyed with runners this weekend at the Oregon track, and it, combined with short rest, caught up to Harris a bit Saturday.

“It’s the heat; it’s the run,” Harris said, still panting. “It’s hot, and it’s two races, back-to-back, within 24 hours, that’s tough to recover. The legs are a little tired. Just going to have to rest up on Sunday, and come back on Monday.”

Regardless of Monday’s outcome (the top three finishers in the nine-man final will qualify for the Olympics), Harris is already far ahead of where he expected to be. Just making it to the final, with a chance to qualify for the Olympics, he said, is pretty unreal.

“It’s been a dream of mine, but I didn’t think it would come this quick,” Harris said. “I hoped for it and everything, worked as hard as I could. Dreams come true.”

Maine athlete update

Casco’s Kate Hall reached the final of the long jump competition Saturday, but went no further. Her second jump of three was her best, a leap of 20 feet, 9 inches, which placed her 10th out of 12 competitors through three jumps. Only the top eight advanced to a second set of three jumps in the final.

There, Brittney Reese vaulted 23 feet, 11½ inches to earn first place.

In addition to Harris’ bid to make the Olympic team in the 800 Monday, two other Maine natives — Ben True of Cumberland and Riley Masters of Veazie — will be looking to do the same in the first round of the 5,000 meter run. That race preceded harris’ 800-meter final on Monday.

In the U.S. Paralympic team trials in Charlotte, N.C., Lisbon’s Nick Rogers finished fourth in the 400-meter dash on Saturday in a time of 49.57.


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