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Bangor’s Riley Masters among three Mainers who fail to qualify for London Games at US Olympic Trials

Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP
Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP
Athletes compete in the first heat of the men’s 1,500 meters qualifying round at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Eugene, Ore. Craig Miller (far right), David Torrence (center) and Matthew Centrowitz (left) finished first, second and third. Riley Masters of Bangor (rear, white jersey) finished eighth and failed to qualify for the finals.
By Pete Warner, BDN Staff

EUGENE, Ore. — Riley Masters of Bangor finished eighth Thursday night in the first heat of the men’s 1,500 meters and failed to qualify for the finals during the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field.

Masters was timed in 3 minutes, 42.71 seconds, which was well off his personal record of 3:37.19 and his previous best of 3:40.90, both of which he clocked last spring.

He missed qualifying for the final by 0.16 seconds.

Binghamton University standout Erik Van Ingen also did not advance. He ran a 3:43.52.

Ben True of North Yarmouth, who is sponsored by Saucony, also came up short in his Olympic quest.

The former Greely High and Dartmouth College star finished sixth in the finals of the 5,000 meters after placing third overall in Monday’s preliminaries. He was timed in 13:28.02, which was well off the winning effort of 13:22.67 run by Galen Rupp.

Rupp’s time broke the U.S. Olympic Trials record (13:22.80) set in July 1972 by the late Steve Prefontaine.

Most of the race was shown live on NBCSports Network.

Becky O’Brien of Cape Elizabeth also competed in the Trials on Thursday. The shot putter wound up 16th in the prelims as part of a 23-woman field.

O’Brien, who attends the University of Buffalo, threw 53 feet, one-quarter inch on her first attempt, but fouled on the other two. Her effort left her 1 foot, 4 1/2 inches short of reaching the finals.

The 22-year-old Masters starred at Bangor High School and the University of Maine before he transferred to the University of Oklahoma in January.

To earn a spot on the Olympic team, he needed to advance to the finals, finish in the top three and meet the Olympics “A” standard of 3:35.50.

In preparation for the Trials, Masters ran a personal best of 3:37.19 seconds in the 1,500 on May 18 at the USA Track and Field Oxy High Performance Meet in Pasadena, Calif.

The run met the Olympic Trials “A” standard, set an Oklahoma program record and made him the top collegiate finisher in the event.

Masters elevated his game against stiff competition, slashing 4.61 seconds off the previous PR of 3:41.80 set in April at the Stanford Invitational. It was the second-fastest 1,500 time by a collegiate runner this year.

Masters continued his Olympic prep June 9 at the Portland Track Festival in Oregon. He finished third in the open 1,500 (3:40.90) against another fast field.

Next month, he will compete in the NACAC (North America Central America Caribbean) U-23 Championships in Guanajuato, Mexico. The meet is scheduled for July 6-8 and Masters will be accompanied by former Columbia standout Kyle Merber, the other U.S. qualifier in the 1,500 for the event.

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