UC Irvine's Mike Morales, who taught himself to throw the hammer after he arrived at Irvine, had the second best hammer throw of the day in preliminary competition Thursday at the NCAA track and field championships at Durham, N.C.
Morales' throw of 211 feet was surpassed only by a throw of 217-5 by Oregon's Scott McGee. Twelve athletes qualified for the final, scheduled for Saturday at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium.
Morales' top throw this season is 216-6, an Irvine school record and the third farthest throw in Division I this season before the NCAA championships.
Morales, a senior from Garden Grove High School, was an All-American last season when he finished seventh in the hammer throw at the NCAA championships, becoming Irvine's first All-American in a field event. He won the Big West Conference championship in the shot put this season.
Irvine's Buffy Rabbitt failed to qualify for the 1,500-meter final, finishing 15th in a field of 18 in 4:20.48. Rabbitt was leading her heat until the final 200 meters, when the field passed her. Tennessee's Jasmin Jones was the top qualifier for Saturday's 12-woman final with a time of 4:14.62.
Rabbitt, a junior from Newport Harbor High, won the Big West championship in the 1,500 and had a best time this season of 4:19.52. She was an All-American as a sophomore in 1988 after finishing seventh in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA championships.
She redshirted last season while studying in France.