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EUGENE, Ore. – Senior All-American Andrew Jesien finished the first round of the 1500m in front of just over 8,000 fans on the opening day of the 2009 USA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships at Hayward Field on Thursday in second place to advance to Sunday’s finals of the event.

The top four finishers in the opening heat of the 1500m were all collegiate competitors, with Jesien putting in a strong kick down the final straightaway to edge out Stanford’s Garrett Heath and Georgetown’s Liam Boylan-Pett to finish second and automatically advance to the finals. Jesien clocked in with a personal-best time of 3:41.78, while Arkansas’ Dorian Ulrey won the heat in 3:41.42. Overall, Leonel Manzano finished with the top time out of the preliminary round, completing the race in 3:39.91. The 12-competitor final is scheduled to toe the line at 5:31 p.m., on Sunday. Jesien is believed to be the first-ever Cavalier to advance to the 1500m finals.

Former Cavalier Alex Tatu also raced in the event, finishing 25th overall in 3:45.90.

In the first round of the 3000m steeplechase, junior Steve Finley concluded his banner season with a 22nd-place finish in 9:04.69. Coming off his first-ever NCAA Championships appearance, where he finished 21st overall in 8:56.13, Finley was also the runner-up in the steeplechase at the East Region Championships, the ACC Championships and the IC4A Championships this season. He earned his first-ever all-region honor and All-ACC accolade in the event.

Virginia will return to action tomorrow, with freshman Maureen Laffan kicking things off with the junior women’s finals of the shot put at 3 p.m. Junior Stephanie Garcia will also compete in the first round of the steeplechase at 10:20 p.m.

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