SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- University of Texas rising sophomore Andra Manson (Brenham, Texas) topped two of three heights, including 7-4.25 (2.24m), in the prelims in the men's high jump to qualify for the finals in front of 20,758 fans on Thursday at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex. Texas exes Sanya Richards (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), Suziann Reid (Greenbelt, Md.) and Moushaumi Robinson (Columbus, Ohio) all advanced to the finals in the 400 meters, with Richards recording the best qualifying time for the second straight round.
Manson had a brief scare in the high jump -- he was competing for the first time since he won the NCAA Outdoor crown (June 12) -- as he failed to clear 7-0.50 (2.15m) on his first attempt, but came right back and soared over the bar on his second of three attempts. He found his timing following that clearance as he topped 7-2.50 (2.20m) and 7-4.25 (2.24m) on his first attempts, respectively, to easily advance as one of 14 athletes to the final.
"I felt great," Manson said following the conclusion of qualifying. "Having a month off affected me a little bit, but I was able to time things back up once I got going. I cleared 7-4.25 and that was a good height to get my timing back. I feel relaxed and I feel good."
Three athletes -- Henry Patterson, Tora Harris and local favorite Jamie Nieto -- made it through high jump qualifying without a miss. Manson will jump third among 14 athletes in Sunday's final.
Former Longhorn Kevin Barra (Katy, Texas), who was making his first appearance at Trials, finished 10th out of 13 finishers in the 3,000-meter steeplechase final in a personal-best 8:30.37 late Thursday. Barra's previous personal-best (8:35.19) came on Monday in the prelims in the steeple.
"I tried to run as hard as I could and I gave my best effort," Barra said. "I tried to go with the big dogs and I got left. I just wasn't quite strong enough. It was a fun race and I did everything I could to qualify for the (Olympic) Games. That was my goal from the outset."
Chris Hercules, another Texas ex who completed his UT career in 2001, qualified for the finals in the triple jump with a mark of 54-2 (16.51m). Hercules, who finished sixth at the 2000 Trials in the triple, recorded his best mark of the prelims on his first of three jumps with the help of a legal tailwind measured at 1.4 meters-per-second. Senior Tom Engwall (Hutchinson, Minn.) opened action on day five at the Trials in the second of two flights in the prelims in the javelin. Engwall failed to advance to the finals as he finished 11th in his flight with a top throw of 215-1 (65.57m). The top six competitors in each flight made the final.
The women's 400 meters final will have a distinct Longhorn feel as three out of the eight finalists are Texas exes. Richards won the second of two semifinal heats with a time of 50.34, followed by Reid (51.14) and Robinson (51.72) in second and third, respectively. Richards' time is the top qualifying mark heading into Saturday's final, which can be seen live on NBC at approximately 4:52 p.m. (CST). On Monday in the quarterfinals, Richards lowered her personal-best and American Junior record with a time of 50.22.
"I felt good," Sanya said of her performance in the semifinals. "(UT Head Coach) Bev (Kearney) told me to try to control the race early and come home at the finish strong and confident, and that is what I did."
UT rising sophomore Jerrika Chapple (Lancaster, Texas) just missed qualifying for the 400m finals as she finished fifth in the first semifinal heat with a time of 52.08. Chapple came on strong at the finish, but was unable to run down Crystal Cox (51.23), who earned the fourth qualifying spot. The top four finishers in each semifinal heat made the final.
The only current or former Texas Longhorn in action on day six at the Trials, Friday, July 16, is Texas ex All-American Aleah Williams (Montclair, N.J.) in the women's 200 meters at 8:40 p.m. (CST).
On what he'll do doing his two days of rest: I might come up to the track on Saturday and do a nice little warm-up just to stay loose. But, I want to stay off my feet as much as possible.
On his qualifying jumps: I had a little bit of problems with my timing. That was really it though. I feel great and I jumped well.
On his progressions: I thought it might be a bar lower. But, clearing 7-4.25 (2.24m) was good because this is a challenging field. I'm just pleased to be here and I'm going to take it one jump at a time.
On whether she held back for the final: Definitely. When the competition is there, the adrenaline and everything else that goes with it always takes me up a level. I'm looking forward to the finals and racing against (the seven other finalists).
On her strategy in the final: I'm going to try to keep doing the same things I've been doing and try to step it up a notch because it is the Olympics Trials finals and I'm running for my life. Hopefully, I will be successful (in the finals), but the strategy is not going to change.
On her 400m race: I got caught up with my emotions after the midway point, but I was able to show my determination and advance. I still need to get the Olympic "A" standard, but I'm going to get after it tomorrow and let the chips fall where they may.