The 2012 USA Olympic Trials resume Thursday in Eugene, Ore., with the biggest day of competition yet for those with ties to the Wisconsin men's and women's track programs.
A total of seven Badgers -- either current or former -- are set to compete inside Hayward Field when the Trials resume at 5:50 p.m. (CT). Here's a quick rundown on what to watch for.
Keep in mind that tonight's live television window runs from 8-10 p.m. on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).Men's 1500 Meters - Qualifying - 6:20 p.m.- Top six per heat, plus next six fastest times, advance to Friday semifinals
- Rob Finnerty (Wisconsin), Jack Bolas (New Balance), Craig Miller (New Balance)
Finnerty has been riding a hot streak since breaking out by winning the 1500 meters at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in late May. He followed that with a fifth-place finish and All-America honors in the event at the NCAA outdoor championships.
It took an eleventh-hour run (literally) for Finnerty to make the Trials, however, as he clocked in at a personal-best 3:38.60 to achieve the automatic qualifying standard at a special race in Bloomington, Ind., just hours before the qualification deadline closed on June 10. Finnerty runs in the third of three preliminary-round heats.
Bolas and Miller, both 2010 graduates of UW, continue as teammates for New Balance and will race together in the first heat of the preliminary round.
In his second Olympic Trials appearance -- he also qualified in 2008 -- Bolas enters as the No. 10 seed for the competition at 3:36.33. Miller will make his debut at the Trials as the No. 12 seed with a personal-best time of 3:36.35.Women's High Jump - Qualifying - 7 p.m.- Top 12 advance to final
- Megan Seidl (Wisconsin Runner Racing Team)
Megan Seidl, a 2010 UW graduate, makes her third-consecutive appearance at a U.S. championship meet, entering the high jump prelims tied for the No. 9 seed with her personal-best clearance of 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches.
The 2008 Big Ten outdoor champion, Seidl was a two-time NCAA championships qualifier for the Badgers as a senior in 2010. That year, she went on to finish seventh at the U.S. championships in Des Moines. Seidl finished 14th in last year's U.S. meet in Eugene.
Seidl's best finish in a national meet came when she tied for third at the 2011 USA Indoor Championships.
Men's Pole Vault - Final - 7:05 p.m.- Top 3 eligible for U.S. national team
- Darren Niedermeyer (Jump High Athletic Club)
Darren Niedermeyer survived and advanced through a brutal qualifying round in the pole vault Monday, tying for sixth to advance as one of 11 qualifiers for the final.
In chilly, damp conditions, the 2005 UW graduate managed to clear 17 feet, 4 1/2 inches on his third and final attempt at the height -- which proved to be the cutoff for advancement to the final.
Niedermeyer was the last man to make the trials field, entering tied for the No. 23 seed at 18-1.
He owns a lifetime-best clearance of 18-9, which he would have to top in order to make Team USA even with a top-three finish. The "A" qualifying standard for the London Olympics is 18-9 1/4.
Niedermeyer won the 2004 indoor and 2005 outdoor Big Ten pole vault titles for the Badgers, and his most recent major success came when he won the 2010 Drake Relays title in the pole vault by upsetting 2008 Olympic Trials winner Derek Miles, who also is in Thursday's final.Women's Shot Put - Qualifying - 7:40 p.m.- Top 12 advance to Friday final
- Kelsey Card (Wisconsin)
Kelsey Card looks to extend her tremendous rookie season another day as she competes in the qualifying round of the women's shot put.
Card actually competed in the discus at the NCAA outdoor championships earlier this month, but her All-America effort in the shot put from the indoor season is what qualified her for the Olympic Trials.
Her school-record throw of 55-8 1/2 has Card tied for the No. 19 seed entering Thursday's qualifying round. She will look to improve that standing in order to advance, as the top 12 finishers in the 23-woman field will move on to Friday's final.
Card is no stranger to competing on the national stage at Hayward Field. She won the national junior title in the shot put at the 2011 USA Junior Championships at Hayward on her way to claiming bronze for Team USA at the 2011 Pan Am Junior Championships.Men's 3000 Steeplechase - Final - 8:30 p.m.- Top 3 eligible for U.S. national team
- Evan Jager (Oregon Track Club Elite)
Evan Jager has quickly gone from steeplechase novice to a popular pick for Team USA in the event. He'll get the chance to live up to that hype in the final of the event Thursday.
In his first season competing in the steeple, Jager entered the Olympic Trials seeded No. 9 with his personal-best time of 8:20.90. He easily advanced out of the qualifying round Monday by winning his section in 8:30.60.
Jager competed just one season in Madison, earning All-America honors with an eighth-place finish in the 1500 meters at the NCAA outdoor championships and then finishing eighth in the 1500 at the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships.
Shortly after, he followed former Badgers Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp in moving west to train under former UW assistant coach Jerry Schumacher as part of Oregon Track Club Elite in Portland. The move paid immediately dividends for Jager, who made it an all-Badgers trio representing Team USA in the 5000 meters at the 2009 IAAF World Championships.