EUGENE, Ore. — University of New Mexico track and field athlete Peter Callahan punched his ticket to the finals of the men’s 1,500-meter run at the 2014 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships Thursday.
Callahan translated a strong performance in the preliminary round of the men’s 1,500 to qualify to Saturday’s final of the event at Hayward Field in Eugene, while Sammy Silva, Charlotte Arter and Suzi Boast registered strong, if not qualifying, times in the prelims of the women’s 1,500.
Callahan, racing at his first NCAA Outdoor Championship after an All-American career at Princeton, finished fourth overall with a time of 3 minutes, 41.52 seconds to earn one of the automatic bids to the finals.
After a monstrous open to the race by top finisher Lawi Lalang of Arizona, Callahan settled in the back of the pack for the first lap, moving up incrementally through lap two.
However, the Evanston, Ill., product unleashed one of his patented kicks over the final two laps — including the fastest split time over the third lap — to claim fourth in his heat, less than half a second behind Lalang (3:41.03).
The top five finishers in both of the heats plus the next two fastest times advance to the finals.
He is the first Lobo to qualify to the finals of the 1,500 since two-time NCAA mile champion Lee Emanuel in 2010.
On the women’s side, all three Lobos registered valiant performances but were unable to nab the requisite finishes to advance to Saturday’s final round.
Sammy Silva, in the first of two heats, finished 16th overall in 4:22.95. Despite a surge with about 300 meters remaining, Silva couldn’t match the rest of the field and finished eighth in her heat.
With all three women competitors not moving on to the finals, this marks the second straight year that the UNM women’s track and field team will not have a competitor in an event's final round at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Before 2013, the last time the UNM women did not have a competitor in the finals of any event was 2007, the season before head coach Joe Franklin arrived.
Nonetheless, the Lobos will be back in action Saturday with Richard York in the men’s javelin throw at 1:35 p.m. MT and Callahan in the finals of the men’s 1,500 at 3:18 p.m. MT.