Competing in fast heats was a recipe for success for Conner Mantz and Dillon Maggard on Day 5 of the U.S. Olympic Team Trails in track & field, which are being contested at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Mantz, the former Sky View and current BYU star, punched his ticket to the finals of the 5,000 meters, which will be contested Sunday. Maggard, the former Utah State standout, also ran well enough Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the 1,500. Maggard will be in action again Friday evening.
Maggard and Mantz competed in what turned out to be the fastest heat in their respective event, and that was a big reason why both survived and advanced.
Mantz placed ninth out of 23 athletes in Thursday’s 5,000, but he ran faster than anybody from the first of two heats. The Smithfield native finished ninth out of 11 runners from the second heat, but was less than three seconds slower than the medalist.
The top five competitors from each of the two heats qualified for Sunday’s finals, plus those with the next six fastest times. Mantz clocked in at 13 minutes, 39.31 seconds, and ultimately would have advanced by running a 13:42.99. The son of Joanna and Robert Mantz was actually in the lead after three of the laps and in the top five for the majority of the race.
The winner of Mantz’s heat was Paul Chelimo, who was the silver medalist at the 2016 Olympic Games. Chelimo finished in 13:36.66.
Casey Clinger, Mantz’s teammate at BYU, also earned his spot in the finals by placing eighth in the second heat and clocking in at 13:39.27. Clinger was a high school star at American Fork.
Meanwhile, Maggard also advanced in comfortable fashion despite only beating one out of 10 athletes in his heat. However, the native of Kirkland, Washington, was in the fastest of the three heats and was able to move on to Friday’s race based on time.
Maggard posted the 17th fastest time out of the 29 competitors during the first round of the 1,500. Twenty-four of the 29 athletes in the event punched their ticket to the semifinal round.
The nine-time All-American at USU completed the 1,500 in 3:40.93, which was less than two seconds slower than the top qualifer, former University of Oregon harrier Sam Prakel. A 3:42.46 would have been sufficient for Maggard to advance.
Maggard’s personal record in the 1,500 is a 3:37.43, while Mantz’s lifetime best in the 5,000 is a 13:24.78. The Olympic qualifying standard for the 1,500 is a 3:35.00, and the 5,000 is a 13:13.50.
This was the second event at the Olympic Trials for Mantz and Maggard, who both showcased their talents in the 10,000 last Friday. Mantz placed fifth out of 25 athletes with a time of 27:53, while Maggard was 19th with a time of 28:52.
Maggard and Mantz are two of just a handful of athletes over the past few years to garner first-team All-American honors in the 5,000 and 10,000 at the same NCAA meet. Mantz is the defending NCAA cross country champion and was the silver medalist in the 10,000 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships earlier this month.