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La Grande Observer Daily Paper 08/22/14

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The first day was anything but a cakewalk for the Eastern Oregon University team at the NAIA Outdoor National Track and Field Championships.

After a tight and tired first two throws, Chelsey Wheelhouse popped a hammer throw well out past her current personal best of 154 feet and change, landing the big throw right about the 160-foot line, only to lose the throw to a foot foul in the ring.

Wheelhouse's best legal throw was well below her personal record, but still put her in the same place she came in ranked — 16th, with a 139-9 throw.

Coach Ben Welch said Wheelhouse had a solid first national meet performance.

Damien Johnson's left hamstring tightened up in the 100 meters running into a head wind, the first event of the decathlon.

Johnson's time in the 100 was 12.04 seconds.

In the long jump, Johnson's tight hamstring from the 100 came back to haunt him again, as several potential 21-foot plus jumps were marginalized by the left leg/foot dragging low and scrapping the sand in the low 20-0 range, and he ended up with a so-so mark of 20-2.5.

Johnson overcame jet lag and a tight leg in the shot put to throw 36-7.

It was one of his best shot performances of his short multi-event career, Welch said.

Johnson jumped 5-7 in the high jump and had a close miss at 5-9.

The final event for Johnson was the 400-meter.

Welch said it was a fine effort, despite holding back mid-race as he ate the competition in his heat down the back stretch and then had to push hard into a strong headwind on the home stretch.

"Once again, concern over the hamstring had him hesitate as he thought he might be pushing too hard early as he destroyed the folks in the lanes outside of him." Welch said. "He ended up winning his heat and having the fifth-fastest multi-event 400 of the day at 50.69."

Johnson's day-one total was 3,146 points, good for 11th place.

In the men's 1,500-meter run prelim, Ian Schroeder finished seventh in his heat and 15th overall with a 3:59.59.

"Ian Schroeder found himself in the unwelcome lead halfway into the first lap when the heat favorites decided to put the brakes on into the wind," Welch said.

Stephanie Colkitt competed in the steeplechase.

"Running out of the highly competitive heat two, Stephanie ran a very fine race to finish eighth in her heat and 19th overall," Welch said.

Colkitt was 2.5 seconds off her personal best in very windy conditions and finished well above her 23rd pre-meet ranking, Welch said.

The men's 10,000-meter run was canceled because of a severe storm warning.

Tornadoes were reported to the west.

At the meet, a blown-out transformer from the lighting strike put out the lights, forcing meet officials to cancel the men's and women's 10Ks for the night.

The men's 10k will take place around 7:45 tonight and there will be no prelims for the women's and men's 5K, putting all four Eastern men and two Eastern women into the finals of the 5K. The 10k will be run in the time slots set aside for the 5K prelims on the original schedule.

The women's 10K will start at 7 p.m., with the men to follow.

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