EUGENE, Ore. -- For four minutes, Jenny Simpson was focused on a race and not a raging wildfire back home in Colorado.
The 1,500-meter runner from the University of Colorado was all business in her heat Thursday night at the Olympic track trials. But after crossing the finish line, all she could think about was the fire near Colorado Springs that has forced more than 30,000 residents from their homes.
Simpson lives a little bit north in Monument. She doesn't think her home is affected, but is only getting sporadic updates from a house sitter.
"I'm suspicious everyone wants me to focus on my racing here. I'll find out the state of my home when I get home," she said.
Simpson easily made it through qualifying. She finished in 4 minutes, 16.70 seconds, taking second in her heat behind Shannon Rowbury to advance on to the semifinals.
"The rounds are always scary, because there's so much jockeying around and you know it's not going to be fast," Simpson said. "I really planned on holding back, but with 800 to go, I thought everyone was still there. I thought, 'Just go to front and know you're in.'
"But (the fires), that's what we really should be talking about."
Amid the devastation in the foothills of Colorado Springs, there were hopeful signs. The flames that were advancing on the U.S. Air Force Academy were stopped and cooler conditions could help slow the fire.
The U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters and an athlete training center are in Colorado Springs, but appear safe.
However, about 40 USOC employees were evacuated from their Colorado Springs homes ahead of the fire.
"It's really scary," Simpson said. "There are a lot of friends and family involved."
After the trials, Simpson doesn't plan on returning to Colorado to train. She could possibly work out in Europe, since she's headed there anyway for some competitions.
Fellow former Buff Sara Vaughn also qualified for the semifinals in the 1,500-meter race with a time of 4:17.08. In the men's 1,500 prelim, former Buff Stephen Pifer qualified for the semifinals with a time of 3:41.47.
Vaughn's husband, and another former Buff, Brent Vaughn finished 13th in the final of the 5,000-meter run with a time of 13:51.49. Galen Rupp (13:22.67), Bernard Lagat (13:22.82) and Lopez Lomong (13:24.47) made the Olympic team as the top three finishers.
Meanwhile, in the men's steeplechase, Colorado assistant coach and alum Billy Nelson was eighth in 8:32.21. Evan Jager won in 8:17.40.
Casey Malone, also an assistant coach for the Buffs, was sixth in the discus with a long throw of 200-6. Lance Brooks won the discus with a mark of 213-9.
Rory Quiller of Louisville, and the son of former CU track and field/cross country coach Jerry Quiller, finished tied for eighth in the pole vault finals with a mark of 17-81/2. Brad Walker won the event with a 18-71/4 vault.
Among today's highlights will be CU teammates Emma Coburn and Shalaya Kipp competing in the women's steeplechase.