Photos courtesy of Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Team USA got a little infusion of Minnesota on the first night of the U.S.Olympic Track and Field Team Trials when in the only finals of the night, Payton Otterdahl and Joe Klecker both finished third in their respective events to guarantee them a spot in Tokyo.
Otterdahl competed in the men's shot put and finished in third place with a throw of 21.92m (71' 11") to just edge out Darrell Hill (71' 10") for the final spot on the shot put squad for Team USA. Otterdahl first qualified for the finals with a throw of 20.61m (67' 7.5") to finish fifth in qualifying to advance to the finals.
In the finals, Otterdahl was in 6th place after his first throw and then held onto third place until he was momentarily passed by Hill on his fifth throw. Moments later though, he got back his hold on third place and didn't relinquish it.
In the same event, Ryan Crouser set a new world record of 23.37m (76' 8.25") to finish in first, and Joe Kovacs finished in second with a throw of 22.34 (73' 3.5") to round out the Team USA shot put squad for Tokyo.
Shortly after Otterdahl qualified, we had a chance for another Minnesotan to qualify for Team USA in the 10,000m finals. Joe Klecker came into the event as one of only 7 runners to already hit the Olympic standard, but he was still a little under the radar as far as making the team went.
Klecker stayed in the main pack of runners for most of the race up until about the 6400m mark, when he started to move into the lead group of runners. He stayed in that lead pack up until about 7600m when he took to the top three positions. Going into the bell lap that lead group had quickly evolved to about 6 runners, all with a shot at making the team.
With about 300ms left things started to spread out, and Klecker, Woody Kincaid, and Grant Fisher all separated themselves from the rest of the pack and never looked back. Klecker stayed in the third that whole way en route to Olympic qualification.
Both Otterdahl and Klecker are both former state champions. Otterdahl was the 2015 discus and shot put state champion for Rosemount. He then went on to an illustrious career at North Dakota State University. Klecker won the 1600m and 3200m titles in 2015 while at Hopkins, before going on to an illustrious career at the University of Colorado. Earlier this year, he signed as a pro with the On Athletics Club.