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EYESTONE AMONG 5 UTAHNS TRYING FOR OLYMPIC MARATHON BERTHS

Ed Eyestone, who made the U.S. Olympic team four years ago, is one of five Utahns who have qualified for next month's U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

The race will be held April 11 in Columbus, Ohio. The top three finishers will represent the U.S. in Barcelona this summer.Eyestone, who finished second in the 1988 Olympic trials, will be among the favorites to make the team. In 1990, he was voted U.S. Road Runner of the Year and produced the nation's fastest marathon time, 2:10:59. A hip injury slowed him much of last year, but last fall he managed to win the Peachtree Classic.

He has run well so far this year, finishing second in the Bermuda 10K and fourth in the Gasparilla 15K. He was the first American finisher in both races.

Paul Pilkington, who trains with Eyestone, has been unable to match his 1990 form, when he won the Houston Marathon and ran the nation's second fastest time, 2:11:13. Last year he placed eighth in Houston, ran poorly in a marathon in Japan and failed to finish a marathon in Moscow because of illness. The latest word is that he has an achilles injury.

Utah's other qualifiers are Chad Bennion, Tracy Fifield and Larry Smithee. Bennion, a former University of Oregon runner, finished fifth in the Columbus Marathon in 2:16:28. Last month he placed second in the Austin River Run 10-miler with a fine time of 47:25.

Fifield, a former Weber State runner, qualified for the Trials en route to winning last October's St. George Marathon with a time of 2:16:58. Smithee, a BYU alum, qualified in the same race with a time of 2:19:58 - two seconds under the qualifying standard.

When Shawna Halford graduated from Cottonwood High School last spring some college coaches were calling her the next Julie Jenkins, the Utah native who went on to become an NCAA 800-meter champion. So far, Halford is making good on such expectations.

Competing in a meet in Pocatello last weekend, she covered 800 meters in 2:10.34, which broke her own school record by nearly three seconds and qualified her for the junior national championships (she missed the NCAA qualifying mark by just .2 of a second).

Halford has yet to lose an 800 race, which isn't bad for a woman who was primarily a sprinter until this year. She was a two-time 400-meter dash champion at Cottonwood and had run only a handful of 800-meter races before last January.

Led by Halford and Elizabeth Kealamakia, among others, Weber State is a favorite to win this weekend's Big Sky Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in Moscow.

"If we perform like we have been, we'll be tough to beat," says Coach Jim Blaisdell, whose team is the defending conference indoor and outdoor champion.

Kealamakia, a junior from Malad, Idaho, has the league's top marks in the 55-meter hurdles and the 200- and 400-meter dashes, and the second best marks in the long jump and triple jump. She has qualified for the NCAA championships in the 200 with a time of 24.00.

Among Weber's other top entries are Cheryl Hannay, Jenny Holbrook, Michelle Sloan, Kim Ashby and Debbie Howard.

The prospects for Weber's men's team aren't nearly so good. The Wildcats are expected to finish eighth or so among nine teams.

"We're just young," says Coach Chick Hislop. "We have a couple of distance runners (Kurt Black, Nathan Kennedy) and a high jumper (Coby Gray), and that's it."