Gibb, Blackhurst fall short in bids for Athens

Southeast swimmer, steeplechase competitor fail to reach finals at respective Olympic trials

Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Two Southeast Alaska athletes failed in their attempts to make the U.S. Olympic track and swim teams on Monday in their respective meets in California.

Carl Blackhurst, a 1996 Haines High School graduate, finished 10th in his heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the USA Track & Field Olympic trials in Sacramento, but he didn't advance to Thursday's championship finals.

Derek Gibb, a 1999 Petersburg High School graduate, was 15th in the semifinals of the 50-meter freestyle race at the USA Swimming Olympic trials in Long Beach.

Blackhurst, who graduated from Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., recorded a season-best time of 8 minutes, 39.29 seconds in the first heat of the steeplechase. That was three seconds better than his other times this season, which all had been in the 8:42 range, but it was slower than his personal record time of 8:33.54 set in the preliminaries of last year's national championships.

Three weeks ago, Blackhurst pulled out of a meet in Boston because of an iron deficiency. But he said he was healthy going into the trials.

The winner of Blackhurst's heat was Anthony Famiglietti, who posted a time of 8:26.51. The top seven runners advanced to Thursday's finals, and the seventh-place time was 8:35.27. Daniel Lincoln won the second heat in 8:25.57, and the seventh-place time was 8:35.19.

Blackhurst, who is a graduate assistant coach for the Adams State cross country and track teams, said before the meet he plans to continue training through the 2008 Olympics. He is working on a masters degree in health, physical education and recreation at Adams State, where he earned a bachelors degree in English and history in 2001.

For the second time this week, Gibb recorded a personal record but wasn't fast enough to make the U.S. Olympic swim team.

Gibb, who competed for Auburn Aquatics, actually recorded two personal bests in the 50 free on Monday. In the morning preliminary heats, Gibb posted the 14th-fastest time of 23.05 seconds over the 50-meter-long pool. In the afternoon semifinals, Gibb finished 15th with a time of 23.01. Both times were faster than his previous personal record of 23.16 set last month during the Mare Nostrum race series in Rome.

Jason Lezak had the fastest time in Monday's semifinals, a 21.98 that is the world's fastest time this season. The top eight swimmers from Monday's semifinals advanced to today's championship final and the eighth-place time was 22.60.

On Thursday, Gibb swam his only other event of the meet, the 100-meter backstroke. He set a PR in that event, but his 19th-place finish in the preliminaries did not allow him to advance to the semifinals.

Now that his part of the Olympic trials is over, Gibb will return to Alaska so he can go commercial fishing on the Erika Ann, a Petersburg-based salmon seiner owned by Charlie Christiansen.

After the fishing season ends, Gibb plans to return to Auburn University to complete his bachelors degree in criminology. Gibb completed his senior year of eligibility this spring, helping the Tigers earn their second straight men's NCAA championship. Before the meet, Gibb said he plans to keep training for the 2008 Olympics.

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