ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- Jesse Jorgensen, a redshirt junior from Washington State, qualified Friday night for the men’s 800m final at the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Jorgensen, from Puyallup, Wash., ran a time of 1 minute 50.79 seconds for fifth place in the first heat of the semifinals. The top three finishers in each heat and then the next two fastest times advanced to the final of eight men.
“The race went out really fast and I didn’t feel ready for it,” Jorgensen said. “I didn’t feel like myself today and had a rough past two weeks. I just held on and knew I could qualify by time and I barely did. I think I blew out the cobwebs today and will be ready for tomorrow.”
Edward Kemboi from Iowa State won the first heat and held on to the fastest time of the day at 1:48.37. Jorgensen’s time was the fifth-best overall among the 16 men in the two heats and he will race for the national title Saturday at 6:20 p.m. PT.
“I’m really proud of Jesse tonight,” Cougars distance coach Dr. Tim Riley said. “He slipped out of the gates and looked a little tight in the middle but got the job done and advanced. Tomorrow is anyone’s race and it will probably come down to who races smart and wants it the most.”
Two weeks ago Jorgensen ran a lifetime-best time of 1:48.84 to become the upset winner in the men’s 800m at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Dempsey Indoor Facility in Seattle. Jorgensen was the 16th and final entry accepted into NCAA Indoor Championships meet.
The NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships will be streamed live online at ESPN3 beginning at 4:50 p.m. PT Saturday and a tape-delayed broadcast will air March 22 at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU.