Track and field trials for the U.S. Olympics team will begin today in Sacramento, Calif., but most Kansas University and area athletes won't swing into competition until late next week.
Abby Emsick, a Kansas University junior-to-be from Council Bluffs, Iowa, is the exception. She'll be in Saturday's women's discus qualifying.
Emsick, who took a redshirt in the spring, has a best throw of 180 feet, 8 inches -- a toss that put her over the B-qualifying standard, but it's only the 13th-best throw going into the Trials. She'll be hoping to reach Monday night's finals.
Baldwin High product Eric Brown, who just completed his sophomore year at Arkansas University, will be in the javelin qualifying Thursday.
Brown finished third at the NCAA Outdoor after a fling of 246-3, but he only has the 10th-best throw going into the Trials. To qualify to go to Athens, a javelin thrower must meet a qualifying standard of 268-4.
Former Kansas University spear standout Scott Russell is in the same boat. Russell, a native of Windsor, Ontario, will be in Victoria, British Columbia, this weekend for the Canadian Trials. He owns the best javelin throw among Canadians, but it's only 255-2. In other words, Russell could win in Victoria, but if he doesn't throw at least 268-4 he won't be eligible to go to Athens.
Also competing on Thursday in Sacramento will be former Kansas University distance standout Charlie Gruber who surpassed the Olympic qualifying standard in the 1,500-meter run when he ran 3:37.23 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.
Gruber boasts the fourth-fastest U.S. time going into the metric mile qualifying races. Former high school sensation Alan Webb owns the best time at 3:32.74. Only the top three finishers in each event will make the U.S. team.
Leo Bookman, who won three NCAA championships in the 200-meter dash while wearing a KU uniform, and Kansas assistant coach Doug Reynolds will be in action a week from today.
Bookman is listed as a provisional qualifier in the 200. At last month's USATF Championships in Bloomington, Ind., he won the open 100 in a time of 10.41 and the open 200 with a B-qualifying time of 20.61.
Bookman, who also played football for the Jayhawks, has another season of outdoor track eligibility remaining, but is expected to announce soon that he will turn pro.
Reynolds, KU's weights and throws coach, owns the seventh-best discus toss going into the Trials -- a flip of 211 feet, 10 inches at a meet last March in College Station, Texas. Reynolds, a former Arizona University standout, just missed a berth in the 2000 Olympics when he finished fourth in the discus qualifying.