AUSTIN, Texas -- The chance to compete for a bid to the NCAA outdoor championships was worth the wait for Alex Brill and Danny Block.
Patience paid off for both Badgers as Friday spilled over into Saturday at the 2013 NCAA West Preliminary Round. The six-hour delay, due to thunderstorms that rolled through Austin during the afternoon, served only to postpone -- and not cancel -- the prize for the Wisconsin pair.
Brill and Block became the first Badgers to secure spots in the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships by way of the preliminary round, with Brill earning a place in the 3000 steeplechase and Block advancing in the shot put. They will join sophomore Zach Ziemek -- a direct qualifier in the decathlon -- in Eugene, Ore., June 5-8.
Neither bid came without a fight -- or without a sigh of relief.
A fast section of the steeplechase forced Brill to work hard to continue his season and he responded by laying down a time of 8 minutes, 39.52 seconds. While it was only good enough for fourth in his heat -- the top three in each section advanced automatically -- the season-best effort made Brill the fastest of three additional athletes that qualified on time.
Block by no means stormed into the final round of the shot put, standing 14th among the 16 athletes that advanced from the original pool of 48 spread across three flights. But he battled back with a big throw of 60 feet, 5 1/4 inches in the final to elbow his way into the all-important top 12 and earn a trip to the national meet for the second-straight year.
Both were also looking for a bit of redemption, as well. Last year, Brill failed to advance out of the preliminary round after entering the meet as the top seed. More recently, Block was unable to move on in the discus despite carrying the No. 3 seed.
As is his style, Block found a way to come up with a big throw when he needed it most. While he entered the 14th with a best mark of 58-6 3/4, Block quickly jumped into 11th place with a throw of 59-0 1/4 on his first attempt in the finals. With two rounds of throwing yet to come, his top-12 standing was tenuous.
That changed when he launched his 60-5 1/4 on his third and final attempt of the final to slide up to ninth place.
It was a reversal of fortune for Block, who qualified for the NCAA championships in the discus last year but failed to do so in the shot put.
There are parallels to that story for Brill, who will make his second NCAA championships appearance after qualifying as a freshman in 2011.
After running an impressive personal best of 8:37.62 at the Big Ten championships last year, Brill carried the top seed into the preliminary round but was unable to capitalize and finished 20th.
Not this time. He ran just off that lifetime best on Saturday, grinding out a fourth-place finish after helping force a four-man breakaway at the front. The run not only earned Brill a spot in the NCAA championships, but his time qualifies him for the 2013 USA Outdoor Championships in June, as well.
Also Friday, senior Zach Mellon put in a strong run of 1:49.93 to finish 15th overall in the quarterfinals of the 800 meters, while sophomore Garret Payne turned in a time of 21.58 that was good for 33rd overall.
Scott Erickson was scheduled to compete in the hammer throw, but the competition was moved to 10 a.m. Saturday as a result of the inclement weather that dominated the afternoon Friday.