EUGENE, Oregon — Former Lewiston High School track standout Isaiah Harris advanced to the finals in the 800 meters in the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials with a fourth-place finish in a semifinal heat Saturday.
Harris qualified with a time of 1 minute, 45.95 seconds to break into the nine-man field for Monday’s final at 8:50 p.m. The top three finishers go to the Rio Olympics.
Harris vaulted across the finish line, pushing his body so far forward that he tumbled to his knees.
“I’m happy with how I executed everything,” Harris told letsrun.com after the race. “There’s nothing else I really could have done.”
He will usually pass runners in the final 200 meters but tried to stay with the leaders earlier in the race given the quality of the field.
Harris not only battled some talented runners but also the heat.
“It’s the heat; it’s the run,” he said. “It’s hot, and it’s two races, back-to-back, within 24 hours, that’s tough to recover. The legs are a little tired. Just going to have to rest up on Sunday, and come back on Monday.”
Harris, an eight-time individual state champion in track and field while at Lewiston and a two-time New England champion at 800 meters, rose quickly through the NCAA Division I middle-distance world this winter and spring as a freshman at Penn State University.
He was the Big Ten Conference champion in the 800 both indoors and outdoors for the Nittany Lions. He set a conference record of 1:46.24 while winning the indoor crown, then clocked 1:46.21 to win the outdoor title.
Boris Berian finished first in Harris’ heat with a time of 1:45.72 and was followed by Erik Sowinski (1:45.82) and Casimir Loxsom (1:45.93).
In Saturday’s women’s long jump finals, Kate Hall of Casco finished in 10th place with a leap of 20 feet, 9 ¾ inches and failed to qualify for one of the three long-jump spots on the U.S. Olympic team.
Brittney Reese won the event with a distance of 23-11 ¾ while Tianna Bartoletta (23-½) and Janay DeLoach (22-9) finished second and third, respectively, to also earn spots on the U.S. team.
Hall, a Lake Region High School graduate who is transferring to the University of Georgia after spending her freshman year of college at Iowa State, recorded the 20-9 ¾ on her second attempt after a distance of 20-8 on her first attempt. Her third leap was 20-5 ¼.
On Monday, former Bangor High School star Riley Masters and North Yarmouth native Ben True will compete in the first round of the 5,000-meter run at 8 p.m.