Richmond Hill High School grad Shaquille Walker finished 10th in the semi-finals of the 800-meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials today, with only the top eight places moving on to Monday’s finals and a chance at a trip to the Summer Olympics in Rio next month.
A protest was filed, however, after a competitor running behind Walker hit his feet, causing him to stumble when he was in position to finish in third place. That runner, Craig Engels of Ole Miss, was chosen instead of Walker to advance to a nine-man final on Monday. Commenters on social media afterward said Walker had a three-stride lead over the other runner.
Walker ran a 1:47.93, finishing fourth in heat No. 2, just 0.58 seconds out of third place. The top three finishers in each heat and the next two fastest times advance to the finals. Both of the two additional runners came from the first heat, which saw all three top finishers plus the next two fastest times run faster than the top finisher in Walker’s heat.
Walker, a two-time state champion in the 800 for the Wildcats, recently turned pro, giving up his final year of eligibility at BYU, and has said he will participate in professional track meets in Europe over the summer.
Walker finished third in both the indoor and outdoor NCAA track championships in the 800 this year and won a gold medal at the World University Games last year. His personal best, set in April, is 1:44.9. He ran a 1:47.6 in Friday night’s qualifying round, finishing third in his heat, to advance to the semis.