UI's True advances in 800

BOISE, Idaho – Illinois senior Bobby True advanced to the finals of the 800-meter run after finishing second in his semifinal heat Wednesday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

True clocked 1 minute, 49.64 seconds to place second behind SMU's Roman Oravec in their heat.

UI freshman Jason Van Swol, the ninth-ranked qualifier in the 800, finished sixth in his heat at 1:55.94 and did not advance to Friday night's finals.

In the 400 hurdles semifinals, Illinois sophomore Sherman Armstrong placed sixth in 52.62 and did not advance.

UI sophomore Aleisha Latimer finished fourth in the 200 prelims at 23.94 and did not advance to Friday's semifinals.

Meantime, for the want of a baton, the chance of LSU regaining the women's NCAA title went tumbling.

The first exchange between Joyce Bates and Chenelle Marshall in the 400-meter relay semifinals went awry, and so did the Tigers' hope of taking back the title from Texas. The Longhorns, who ended LSU's 11-year reign last year, had no difficulty with their handoffs and won their heat in 43.20, a record for Boise State's Bronco Stadium.

Both Marshall and Bates were puzzled as to how they didn't connect on the handoff.

"I felt it (the baton)," said the disheartened and tearful Marshall, running the second leg for the first time this year. "It just brushed my hand."

In breaking LSU's 1994 record of 43.26, Texas led the way into Friday's final.

Although the relay turned out to be the pivotal event of the competition, four finals also were contested.

Stanford, which went 1-2-3 in the men's 10,000 last year, repeated again, with Nathan Nutter winning at 29:11.96, followed by Jason Balkman at 29:12.91 and Brent Hauser at 29:14.07.

Pittsburgh's Trecia Smith, the 1997 long jump champion and 1998 triple jump winner, earned her second outdoor long jump title, leaping 21 feet, 81/4 inches. Freshman Gabor Mate from Hungary became Auburn's first men's throwing champion since 1951, winning the discus at 202-1, and SMU sophomore Florence Ezeh took the women's hammer throw at 207-2.

Tennessee's Tom Pappas, the collegiate record-holder in the decathlon, led after the first five events with 4,265 points.

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