Idaho's Melinda Owen advances to finals at Olympic Trials - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

Idaho's Melinda Owen advances to finals at Olympic Trials

EUGENE, Ore. - Former University of Idaho pole vaulter Melinda Owen cleared the qualifying height in the opening round of the women's pole vault at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Thursday and has clinched a spot in Sunday's final round.

Owen cleared 13-9.25 (4.20m) to advance and will now prepare for Sunday's competition, where she will try to earn one of three open spots on the U.S. Olympic roster in the event. Owen's season-best vault of 14-5.25 this season, a school record and Western Athletic Conference record, ranks fifth among American vaulters.

Also competing on Thursday from Idaho was Russ Winger, who finished 20th overall in the qualifying round of the discus with a throw of 184-4. Winger also finished fifth last weekend in the shot put at the Trials.

Owen is the final Idaho competitor at the U.S. Olympic Trials, but one current and two former Vandals will be in action this weekend at the Canadian Olympic Trials. Junior hurdler Christie Gordon will be joined by former Vandal and current assistant coach Angela Whyte in the women's 100m hurdles, while Bevin Kennelly, who graduated in 2007, will compete in the women's 3,000m steeplechase.

Gordon, who holds a personal best of 13.76 in the hurdles, needs to run a 13.75 to be eligible for a spot on Canada's team at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) U23 Championships. Whyte, who finished sixth at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, needs to run a 13.11 to clinch her spot on the team. Whyte's personal best in the event is 12.63.

Kennelly helped the Vandal women's cross country team win the 2005 WAC title and also won the 2006 WAC title in the 5,000m run. She also has a Canadian national title and a Canadian junior national title to her name in the steeplechase.