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Brent Ayer’s Blog #4 from the USA Olympic Trials - Track & Field
If the two 5,000 meter finals didn’t leave you breathless then you don’t have a pulse.
The opening kilometer in the women’s race was covered in 3:07.4 (15:37 pace), dawdling well over the Olympic A Standard of 15:20. The race continued at roughly that pace (3:06 second kilometer, followed by a 3:09) with nearly the entire field in tow. Shortly after the fourth kilometer was covered in 3:01, 2008 RRCA Roads Scholar Julia Lucas took off. Surging into the lead, she opened a 25-meter lead that she would hold for two of the final three laps.
Of the lead pack entering the final lap, Lucas, Julie Culley, and Molly Huddle had the A Standard. Kim Conley and Abby D’Agostino did not. With less than 300 meters to go, Culley and Huddle rolled up Lucas and were off to a 1-2 finish.
As Lucas tired, she still maintained a 10-meter hold on third place entering into the “Bowerman Corner” and the final straight. However, Conley and D’Agostino were chargiing and Lucas was locking up. Still, the distance appeared insurmountable. As Lucas hit the finish line, she appeared to stiffen and lean back just as Conley surged forward. Conley caught the electronic timer in 15:19.79, Lucas came through in 15:19.83. Conley had third, a five second personal record, the Olympic A, and a trip to London. Dartmouth undergraduate D’Agostino, the NCAA 5000 champion, finished 5th in 15:19.98.
The men’s 5000 followed immediately and again the pace lagged. Mo Trafeh, lacking the A Standard, surged to the front in an attempt to bring the pace up. The pack was not interested, trailing him by 20-30 meters for much of the race. Without help, the pace remained above 13:20, the Olympic A Standard for men. The half-way point was reached in 6:49. With two laps remaining, the front pack of Galen Rupp, Bernard Lagat, Lopez Lomong, and Andrew Bumbalough rolled him up and the race for the top three qualifying spots was officially “on.”
Rupp maintained a slight lead heading into the homestretch; however, Lagat drove past. Not to be denied, Rupp found another gear with 60 meters remaining and held on to win in 13:22.67. The time, while outside the Olympic A (all top three runners; Rupp, Lagat, and Lomong, obtained the A earlier in the season) was significant. It broke the oldest remaining Olympic Trials record of 13:22.8 set in the 1972, at Hayward Field, by Steve Prefontaine.
One other distance final was held on Thursday, the men’s 3000 meter steeplechase. That was taken by the Nike/Oregon Track Club Elite’s Evan Jager, running only the fourth steeple of his life. Joining him on the team bound for London is Princeton undergrad Don Cabral, and Nike runner Kyle Alcorn.
Qualifying rounds were held in both the men’s and women’s 1500, eliminating almost no one. Thirty runners went to the line for each gender and 24 made the semi-finals, to be held Friday afternoon. There were no surprises. On the women’s side qualifiers include: Shannon Rowbury, Jenny Simpson (reigning world champion), Morgan Uceny, Alice Schmidt, and Anna Pierce. On the men’s side, Matthew Centrowitz, Robby Andrews, Miles Batty, German Fernandez, Leonel Manzano,and Andrew Wheating, among others, move on.
Perhaps the most dramatic performance of the night took place in the men’s discus final. Leading, but lacking the A Standard, was Lance Brooks. On the final throw of the competition, Brooks unleashed a throw of 213’ 9,” six inches past the A Standard.
Action resumes Friday. The only finals scheduled are the women’s shot put and the women’s steeplechase.