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Adam Jude / Special to The Forum, Published June 22 2012

Roesler advances to semifinals in 800 meters at U.S. Olympic Track Trials

EUGENE, Ore. – Rain drops dripped from her face. Her singlet and running spikes were soaking wet.

Laura Roesler was right at home.

“This is Duck weather, man,” Roesler said with a grin, referring to the University of Oregon’s mascot as she stood in a steady drizzle outside venerable Hayward Field. “This is what we’re born to do – run in the rain.”

Roesler, the Oregon sophomore and Fargo South graduate, avoided disaster on the final turn and surged into third place in her heat during the first round of qualifying for the women’s 800 meters Friday at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

She finished with a time of 2 minutes, 3.11 seconds to earn an automatic qualifying spot into today’s semifinals. The 800 finals are scheduled for Monday.

“I’m really happy. I really wanted that automatic spot,” Roesler said. “I was really relaxed. That was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.”

As a 16-year-old, Roesler also advanced to the semifinals at the Olympic Trials here in 2008. She’s older and more experienced now – and a local favorite.

During introductions before her heat, Roesler received the biggest ovation when she was announced as the Pac-12 champion.

“That was a confidence boost,” she said. “I was like, ‘I can do this. I was meant to be here.’”

Roesler nearly got caught up in a crash on the final turn. Running in Lane 2 and in fourth place for much of her race, Roesler got a glimpse of a fall right behind her by Latavia Thomas, who sprawled into Lane 1 and took out Lyndsay Harper.

“I was trying to steer clear,” said Roesler, noting she was clipped in the back of the leg several times. “I saw her go down, but thank God I wasn’t in the crash.”

After making the final turn, Roesler was able to track down BYU’s Nachelle Mackie in the final 50 meters to earn the third and final automatic qualifying spot from her heat.

Now, she’ll take aim at advancing to her first finals at the Olympic Trials.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” she said. “I’m going to take care of my body right now and get ready for tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, former North Dakota State standout Laura Januszewski failed to advance in the 800 after finishing last in her heat in 2:07.50.

Because of the rain, the women’s pole vault qualifying – a field that includes North Dakota State’s Leslie Brost – was postponed until Sunday.