Former Illini reaches discus finals

Former Illini reaches discus finals

EUGENE, Ore. — Centennial product Gia Lewis-Smallwood, an Illinois grad, qualified for Sunday's discus finals at the U.S. Olympic trials, throwing 188 feet, 11 inches Friday.

Lewis-Smallwood had the sixth-best toss in the prelims. Stephanie Brown Trafton was first at 206-1.

Illinois sophomore Stephanie Richartz was scheduled to compete Friday night in the pole vault prelims, but the event was postponed because of inclement weather.

Earlier Friday, Sanya Richards-Ross stepped over a puddle, ran hard for a few more steps, then jogged to the finish line for an easy win.

A routine result Friday at the rain-drenched Olympic trials that left one of America's biggest track stars with nothing to complain about.

Well, almost nothing. "Other than it messing up my hair, it's OK," she said.

Richards-Ross, LaShawn Merritt, Allyson Felix, Dawn Harper and Carmelita Jeter were among those who made it through the first day without any problems.

Richards-Ross ran her qualifying heat in the 400 meters in 51.69 seconds, winning by 0.55 second even though she jogged to the finish.

"We all have to compete in it," said Richards-Ross, who also will try to qualify in the 200 next week. "Whatever it is, go out here and put in your best show."

A few minutes earlier, Merritt, the defending Olympic champion at 400 meters, took to the rain-slickened track, sidestepped a runner who fell in the lane next to him and finished in 45.36, the best time in the men's heats.

"I saw him and I had to do a little step more toward the inside of my lane, where I should've been in the first place," Merritt said.

Jeremy Wariner, the 2004 Olympic champion, also advanced to the semifinals, though his race wasn't quite such a breeze. He finished third in his heat in 45.84.

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