DELAWARE, OHIO 5/26/11 – If the early bird gets the worm, then one Owl gets All-American and the other one gets a trip to the finals. Competing in the first flight of the hammer throw event and the first heat of the women's 1,500 prelims proved to be beneficial for Keene State seniors Bryan Kolacz and Amy Knoblock at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Ohio Wesleyan University on Thursday.
Kolacz from Brentwood, N.H., finished second in the hammer with a personal best throw of 209'-06" to earn All-American honors while Knoblock, a Plymouth, Mass. native, posted the fourth best time (4:29.50) in the trials of the 1,500-meter race, easily moving on to the finals on Saturday.
"It's usually a disadvantage being in the first flight because you don't know how the rest of the field did," said Keene State throwing Coach John Napolitano. "This time it worked in Bryan's favor."
"You prefer not to be in the first heat, said KSC Coach Peter Thomas. "But everything worked out for Amy."
Competing in his last collegiate meet, Kolacz, along with the first flight of athletes, were able to throw before thunder and lightning halted competition for almost an hour. Kolacz, who won the national championship in the event as a sophomore and finished third last season, provided his own thunder with his second throw of the competition. "It was an effortless throw. I just stood there and watched it," said Kolacz. "I couldn't pick a better time to have the best throw of my life."
"As soon as he let it go, I was screaming," said Napolitano. "He put everything he had into it."
Eric Flores, a senior from Cal-Lutheran, defended his hammer championship with a winning mark of 213'-11. Kolacz completes his KSC career as a five time All-American, winning the honor three times outdoors in the hammer and twice indoors in the weight throw.
Instead of waiting, Knoblock set the pace on the George Gauthier track. Unable to gauge her time against the rest of the field, Thomas altered his strategy for Knoblock. "I told her to go out with an honest pace and don't get caught in the back of the pack," he said.
"My intention was to sit on the leader, but it didn't end up that way," said Knoblock. "I was concerned about the pace, so I just took off."
Randall Boots, a sophomore from Wellesley College followed Knoblock and the two quickly separated from the pack. Being in the faster first heat allowed Knoblock some breathing room down the stretch. "I could have pushed a little harder at the end, but once I was in good position, I coasted the last 100-meters," said Knoblock, who earned All-American honors indoors with her third place finish in the mile and the distance medley relay.
Boots posted the fastest time in the trial, crossing the line at 4:28.81.
Knoblock says she will use the same strategy in Saturday's final. "I'm going to stay up with the leaders and see what happens," she said. "I still have a faster race in me and I plan to show that in the finals."
Follow the link below to see photo's from Thursday's NCAA Track and Field Championship.