For the first time in the 18-year history of the Brady Street Sprints, no one will be qualifying on Brady Street.

Due to continuing construction on Brady, the first of two qualifying sessions took place Thursday on Pershing Avenue, a flatter and less steep hill.

Still, it's a hill. And although times were faster Thursday than in previous years, no one took it lightly.

Six runners, five in the Men's Open division, all ran under 60 seconds. Returning winners Marek Wensel and Jen Paul qualified, as did past participants Joy Ripslinger, Nick Dehner and Issac Smith.

"The angle is very similar," Wensel said. "I'm going to run it pretty much the same and just figure I might have a little more at the end."

With there only being two qualifying days, more people will qualify and the top-5 in each division will automatically advance to the final event held Thursday, July 27. The second qualifier is Thursday, July 13.

Wensel, a Marion, Iowa native, has won the last five Men's Masters titles. He has never ran under a minute in any of those victories, but he crossed the line in 57.66 seconds, winning by four seconds over Paul Kilgore.

"Which is 10 seconds faster than what I thought I'd run," Wensel said. "Running this and not really being the same, that last 50 meters (on Brady) is going to be tough."

Outside of shade at the top and less noise, Wensel can't pick up something that signifies between the two hills separated by two blocks.

Neither could Dehner, who won the Men's 30-39 qualifier in 1 minute, 2.69 seconds.

"Especially towards the end, the last 100 (meters) felt little bit easier to make it to the end," he said.

Ripslinger, who was selected two weeks ago as the Isle Casino Beat the Elite runner, ran and won the Women's Open qualifier, outlasting former Davenport Assumption teammate Carly King and current Iowa State heptathlon athlete Emma Whigham.

Headed to Arkansas on August 17, Ripslinger hasn't made up her mind if she'll run the final in three weeks.

"I think it's possible, but it may not be the best choice for me," she said. "We'll see how my training goes and if that's something it'll be OK to do."

A nine-time state champion for track and field, Ripslinger said she'll push herself these next two weeks during the Bix at Six training runs in preparation for the Quad-City Times Bix 7 on July 29.

"It's going well," Ripslinger said. "I'm just trying to keep my fitness up."

Smith, a recent Augustana grad, won the Men's Open qualifier in a blistering 54.52 seconds. Muscatine graduate Tyler Olsen placed second in 55.85 seconds.

As of two months ago, Smith is a Type 1 diabetic, but that hasn't affected his training and running capabilities.

"When I was running at Augustana, it definitely affected me there," he said. "Lost a lot of weight, was tired all the time, but once I was put on medication, I've been feeling a lot better."

Paul won the Women's 30-39 race and Nancy Jackson took the Women's Masters over Nicole Callahan.

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