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Top talent ready to go the distance

This is a press release courtesy USA Track and Field

Bernard Lagat, Alan Webb, Khadevis Robinson, Abdi Abdirahman, Meb Keflezighi, Matt Tegenkamp, Galen Rupp and Tim Seaman are just a few of the top U.S. men's middle/long distance competitors and race walkers who will compete at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials forTrack and Field starting Friday at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

The top three finishers in each competition, who have met Olympic performance standards, will earn the ultimate prize of a spot on the Team USA roster for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

800 Meters
In recent times, U.S. men's 800m supremacy has been a two man tug-of-war between Khadevis Robinson and Eugene area resident Nick Symmonds, and that trend should continue at the Trials.

Robinson has won three straight U.S. Outdoor titles and currently owns the fastest time by an American this season of 1 minute 44.55 seconds. A five-time U.S. World Outdoor Championships team member, Robinson, who has been ranked #1 in the U.S. every year since 2005, will be looking to qualify for his second Olympic team.

A four-time NCAA D-III 800m champion, Symmonds (at left) burst on to the national scene in a big way in 2006 when he came from virtually nowhere to finish second to Robinson at the USA Outdoor Championships in Indianapolis. Also the runner-up at outdoor nationals in 2007, Symmonds is the 2007 USA Indoor champion and his 800m time of 1:44.54 at the 2007 Prefontaine Classic is the fourth-fastest time ever on American soil.

Additional contenders include 2007 USA Outdoor Championships third-place finisher and World Championships team member Duane Solomon, 2004 NCAA Outdoor champion and Olympic Team member Jonathan Johnson and University of Texas standout Jacob Hernandez, who has the third-best time by an American this outdoor season of 1:45.68, a personal best by 2.30 seconds.

1,500 Meters
Two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat leads the entries in this event following his dramatic 1,500m win at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, Japan. It was Team USA's first gold medal in the event ever at a World Outdoors, and the first gold medal at a World Outdoor Championships or Olympic Games since 1908, when Hall of Famer Mel Sheppard won the Olympic title. Lagat sits atop this season's U.S. 1,500m list with his winning time of 3 minutes 35.14 seconds at the May 18 adidas Track Classic in Carson, Calif.

Reigning USA Outdoor men's 1,500m champion and American mile record holder Alan Webb (at left) will look to retain his national title after finishing eighth at the Osaka World Championships and ending the 2007 season with the highest world ranking of his career (#6). Webb posted the fastest time in the world for 2007 with his impressive win at Paris in 3:30.54.

Now a senior at the University of Texas, up-and-coming star Leonel Manzano is a strong contender to make the team after finishing as the 2007 USA and NCAA Outdoor 1,500m runner-up. Manzano, who won the 2007 NCAA Indoor title, finished the 2007 season ranked #3 in the U.S. by Track & Field News.

Also keep an eye on 2006 USA Indoor champion Chris Lukezic, who ended the 2007 campaign ranked #4 in the U.S. after placing fourth at the USA Outdoor Championships. 2007 NCAA Outdoor 1,500m champion Lopez Lomong is the second-fastest American so far this year, behind only Lagat, and could finish in the top three in Eugene, as could veteran Rob Myers, who has been ranked in the U.S. top ten four years in a row and placed third at the 2004 Olympic Trials in Sacramento.

3,000m Steeplechase
The 2006 men's NCAA 3,000m steeplechase champion as a senior at Brigham Young University, Josh McAdams has improved tremendously in a short period of time and will enter the Olympic Trials as a favorite to win. McAdams' breakthrough season last year included a win at the USA Outdoor Championships, a gold medal winning performance at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a year-end #1 U.S. ranking.

Two-time World Outdoor Championships team member and 2003 national champion Steve Slattery will be looking to make his first Olympic Team after ending the 2007 season ranked #2 nationally. Another veteran to keep an eye on is 2003 Pan Am Games bronze medalist, 2002 U.S. champion and 2004 Olympian Anthony Famiglietti, who currently leads the U.S. list with his time of 8 minutes 24.34 seconds from the Penn Relays.

A four-time NCAA champion while at Arizona State, Aaron Aguayo should provide a strong challenge after finishing second at last year's U.S. Nationals and qualifying for the World Outdoor Championships squad. Others to watch include Tom Brooks, who competed at the Osaka World Championships after placing third at the 2007 USA Championships, and two-time U.S. World Cross Country Championships team member Max King.

5,000 Meters
Bernard Lagat ran two 5,000m races last season and made the most of both of them in winning at the USA Outdoor Championships and at the World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, becoming the first man ever to win the 1,500m and 5,000m at the same Worlds.

Lagat took full advantage of the dreadfully slow pace in the Worlds 5,000m final in running a near perfect tactical race before winning in 13 minutes 45.87 seconds, which was a little more than 15 seconds slower than his winning time at U.S. Nationals. Lagat's win in Palo Alto on May 4 in 13:16.29 currently leads the U.S. list. He ended the 2007 season ranked #4 in the world.

Lagat will have to deal with two-time U.S. 5,000m runner-up Matt Tegenkamp, who shocked the world with his fourth place finish at the 2007 World Championships, which vaulted him to a top ten world ranking (#10) for the first time in his career. Lagat and Tegenkamp are the first multiple Americans to be ranked in the world top ten since 1985.

Also watch for 2000 Olympian Adam Goucher, who has finished 11th twice in World Championship competition (2001, 2007) and 12th in 1999. Goucher has been ranked top ten in the U.S. at 5,000 meters in 10 of the last 12 years. Another to watch is 2007 NCAA Outdoor champion Chris Solinsky, who ended last season ranked #4 in the U.S.

10,000 Meters
Abdi Abdirahman is the favorite in this event after a 2007 campaign that saw him win his third national 10,000m title and place seventh at the World Outdoor Championships in Osaka. Abdirahman recently flirted with the American record June 8 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene with his U.S. leading time this season of 27 minutes 16.99 seconds, which easily bettered his previous career best of 27:22.81 from 2006.

Other contenders include resident fan favorite and star on the rise Galen Rupp (at right), who was the runner-up at the 2007 USA and NCAA Championships as a University of Oregon junior. Rupp placed 11th at the Osaka World Championships and finished the 2007 campaign ranked #2 in the U.S. at 10,000 meters.

Other notable entries include 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist and U.S. 10,000m record holder Meb Keflezighi, 2007 U.S. Nationals fifth-place finisher Jorge Torres, who placed fourth at last year's Pan Am Games, and Adam Goucher, who finished 12th at the 2004 Olympic Games. Additional contenders include Scotty Bauhs, who owns the second-fastest time by an American this season of 27:48.06, and Fazil Bizuneh, whose 27:50.48 currently sits third on the U.S. list.

20 km Race Walk
Kevin Eastler is expected to lead the field in the men's 20 km race walk on Saturday, July 5, following an impressive 2007 campaign that saw him win his fourth national title and end the season ranked #1 in the U.S. for the fourth time. Challengers include 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials champion and American record holder Tim Seaman, along with 2004 Olympian John Nunn and 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - 50 km Race Walk champion Philip Dunn.

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