AUSTIN, Texas -- A pair of Weber State steeplechase runners overcame injuries and barriers on Friday evening in Austin, Texas, in the quarterfinal round of the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship, and both runners now advance to the semifinals next month in Des Moines, Iowa.
In the men's 3,000 meter steeplechase, sophomore Mike Hardy hit the last barrier and stumbled, but picked himself up and sprinted to the finish line with a career best time of 8:51.66.
Hardy finished 12th overall which had 47 runners in three heats. The top 12 times advance to the semifinals.
"Mike hit the barrier pretty hard," said WSU distance coach Paul Pilkington. "He was battling with a runner from Boise State but had a tremendous surge in the final 100 meters to hold him off. He showed some grit and determination."
In the women's 3,000 meter steeplechase, junior Amber Henry went into the quarterfinal with the fourth best time in the nation (9:53.94). However, she came into Friday's race with a broke clavicle and a torn meniscus in her right knee.
The clavicle injury came in the finals of the 1,500 meter run at the Big Sky Conference championships. She fell at the finish line after surging from behind to beat Renisha Robinson from Sacramento State. The knee injury happened in practice on Tuesday.
"We didn't know how Amber was going to hold up," said Pilkington. "Dr. Neal Callister, who was at the meet watching his daughter Sarah run last night, checked her knee and said she would probably be able to go. Then she goes out and wins her heat. She's one of the toughest runners, physically and emotionally, I've ever been around. It was quite a performance."
Henry's performance was even more impressive because she fought off Rebeka Stowe of Kansas to win the heat. Stowe came into the meet with the third best time in the country this season at 9:52.08.
The top three times from each of the three heats, plus the next three best times, advance to the semifinals next month in Des Moines. Teammate Laken Hintze finished seventh in the same heat with Henry, posting a time of 10:30 but did not qualify.
Also on Friday, senior Tyler McBee finished fifth in his heat in the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 14.45 but failed to qualify. On Thursday in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, McBee was cruising along and it appeared he might have a chance to qualify, but he hit the ninth of 10 hurdles and fell to the track. He picked himself and finished in a time of 57.39.
McBee won the 2012 Big Sky men's 400 meter hurdle title.
On Thursday, three WSU runners were part of a 48-person field in the lone heat of the women's 10,000 meters. Three-time defending Big Sky champion Sarah Callister was part of a strong field which included 10 of top 12 best times in the country this season. Callister battled hard down the stretch and posted a time of 34:27.30, putting her in 13th place. The top 12 advance to the semifinals.
"Sarah ran a great race, but the field in the West first round was much stronger than the East first round," said Pilkington. "It was a bit warmer and definitely much more humid than she had been accustomed to running in, It probably affected her a bit, especially in the final 600 meters."
Taylor Thornley and Kayla Blackford were also in the field. Thornley posted a time of 35:40.62 and Blackford, 37:34.42.
Senior Zach Parry competed in the men's hammer throw. Parry fouled on his first two attempts before throwing 183-06.00 on this third attempt. Parry was 41st in the field of 48 throwers and did not qualify for the semifinals.