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Hayes advances to 400-meter hurdles semifinals at U.S. Olympic Trials on Thursday

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EUGENE, Ore. — Keyunta Hayes' strong sophomore campaign continued on Thursday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials, as he finished third in the second qualifying heat of the 400-meter hurdles at historic Hayward Field.

Running out of lane seven, the Tyler native clocked a 51.16 in the second of four sections and he earned an automatic berth into Friday's semifinals. It marked the 11th time in his last 13 races that Hayes has finished third or better (13 of his last 16 overall dating back to his freshman campaign).

"Tonight was all about finishing in the top three and advancing to the semifinals," Hayes said. "I felt like I had a good rhythm throughout the race, and even though the guy next to me fell, I didn't let it bother me. I feel very privileged to advance. I need to run the same race that I did at nationals and treat tomorrow night as if it's the final."

"Keyunta did a good job of advancing to the semifinals tonight and I'm proud he was able to do so," head coach Aaron Fox said. "Not only is it great that he'll get to run another heat at the trials, but more importantly, it's another race of experience for him. He did a good job against world-class competition and is fortunate to be able to race another day."

Kerron Clement (49.37/heat 4), Angelo Taylor (49.53/heat 1) and Michael Tinsley (49.55/heat 3) ran the night's three quickest times.

The semifinals will be contested at 5:35 p.m. (CT) on Friday evening and Hayes will run in the opening heat out of lane three. The two races can be seen live on NBC Sports Network (check local listings for channel number) and the top four finishers of each semifinal will advance to Sunday's final.

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