Olympic Trials: What a Night!

Photo credit: Brennan Feldhausen

With both men’s and women’s 5000m finals on Thursday night, men’s steeplechase, and the men’s and women’s 1500m opening rounds, Thursday night’s action from Eugene was going to be the highlight of the week. Here’s how the races turned out, and how our close to the pin our “experts” were with their predictions!

Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

A quick early pace led to a spread out field, and with 800m to go, Dan Huling of Reebok took command of the race. Evan Jager, in just his 4th steeplechase event ever, sat right behind Huling, and the two opened a small gap on the rest of the field, which included NCAA Steeplechase Champ, Donn Cabral of Princeton. With 200m to go, Jager and Cabral passed Huling, as did Kyle Alcorn, and the Jager put some space into everyone as he crossed the line, smiling ear-to-ear. His time (8:17.40) was a 3 second personal best. Jager, Cabral, Alcorn, that’s your team to London.

We all had picked Cabral and Jager, but most of us had Huling or Craig Forys of Michigan, who finished 13th and was really never a factor.

Women’s 5000m

With just 7 women possessing the Olympic “A” standard, it was on the remainder of the field to make sure the pace was honest. Nobody seemed to take up the tempo, which played perfectly into the hands of the favorites. Julia Lucas, formerly of NC State and who had the fastest time this year of anyone in the field, looked strong with 2 laps to go and had a slight gap on the field. At this point, Julie Culley and Molly Huddle in 2nd and 3rd looked like that would round out the team – but soon those two bridged to Lucas, went by her, and Lucas started fading hard. Abbey D’Agostino, who won the NCAA 5000m a few weeks ago, was in 4th and charging hard. Up front, it was between Culley and Huddle, who moved into lane 2 and opened the inside for Culley to zip past her in the closing meters. Culley won, set a personal best, and is headed to London, along with the American Record holder in the event, Huddle. The battle for 3rd looked like it could produce another photo-finish as Lucas was nipped at the line by Kim Conley, and D’Agostino finished in the mix as well. The trio were separated by just .19 seconds, and Conley and Lucas by just .04.

More importantly for Conley, who didn’t have the A standard coming into the race, her time of 15:19.79 meant she qualified by .21 seconds. It was an incredible display.

Again, all of us had Culley and Huddle, but we felt like Lucas, or D’Agostino, would take the 3rd spot.

Men’s 5000m

It wasn’t too exciting until the final lap, and then it was one of the most incredible races ever at Hayward Field I’d say. Galen Rupp, in front of his home crowd, took down the American Record holder, Bernard Lagat, defeating him for the first time in their now 14 head-to-head meetings. Not only that, but Rupp took out the Meet Record, set by Steve Prefontaine in 1972. Rupp’s 13:22.67 eclipsed Pre’s record of 13:22.80 (hand-timed).

Only 4 men had achieved the Olympic A time: Rupp, Lagat, Lopez Lomong, and Andy Bumbalough. And of course, it was those 4 that were leading the field by a distance with a lap to go. The field didn’t even look like they wanted to try to get to London. With 100m to go, Lagat opened up his patented kick-face: eyes wide open and teeth displayed, but like Molly Huddle, moved over too far, which allowed Rupp the inside track to the line. Once Rupp saw the opening, he didn’t back down. Rupp outkicked the kick-master Lagat, covering the last lap in just over 52 seconds.

Rupp won by the 10,000m and 5,000m, and right now looks pretty good. If he’s winning a 13:22 5k with a 52 second last lap, I think that means good things are in store for him in either/both event in London.

Most of us were right on with our picks, except Brad, who had Trevor Dunbar instead of Lopez Lomong.

Men’s and Women’s 1500m Prelims

30 athletes cut to 24 after one round makes virtually no sense, but the schedule is supposed to mirror the Olympics schedule, so three rounds it is. Seemed a little silly, but the athletes will have to be ready for it. No major casualties, mostly because only 6 people were cut. Cory McGee, the fast sophomore from the University of Florida, was pretty much the only one I would have expected to move on that didn’t. They move on now to semifinals, and then finals are on Sunday.

Field

Semifinals of Women’s High Jump and Men’s Triple Jump were today. Our recent Runaround alum, Christian Taylor (2011 World Champ) set an unbeatable mark on his first jump and was able to pass on his other attempts. His 56’8″ was 16 inches clear of 2nd place, his Florida teammate, Will Claye.

In Women’s High Jump, Runaround alum Chaunte Lowe (2012 Indoor World Champ) safely qualified for the final.