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Men's 5k Preview: Lagat Versus the Field
Monday night is nirvana for distance running fans in Eugene as there will be 3 distance finals, the men's and women's 800, and the men's 5000. We give you a preview of the men's 5k final below. Men's 800m Preview here, Women's 800m Preview Here
Men's 5000: Lagat Leads a Talented Field
Hard to believe the men's 5000m is now one of the strongest distance events for the US, but Bernard Lagat won the gold medal for the US at Worlds last year and Matt Tegenkamp was .03 from a bronze. Both Lagat and Tegenkamp are in Monday's final hoping to book their tickets to Beijing.
Lagat appears to be as sure of a lock as there can be for Beijing. The double 1500 and 5000 world champ, Lagat is running much better in 2008 than he was last year at this time. Undefeated at 1500 and 5k this year (7 races) it would seem everyone else is running for 2nd on Monday.
We say that but then remember that last year at USATFs Tegenkamp almost dropped Lagat in the 5k. Also at world's, Tegenkamp was only .91 behind Lagat. That being said, Lagat won't lose the race on Monday. One needs to remember that last year at USAs, the 5k final was on the same day as the first round of the 1,500 so Lagat was tired. On Monday, he'll be totally fresh.
Challenging Tegenkamp for the other 2 Olympic spots are Olympians Adam Goucher (2000) and Jonathon Riley (2004), and the last 2 NCAA 5k champs, Chris Solinsky and Bobby Curtis, plus "A" qualifiers Bolota Asmerom and Ian Dobson.
The most question marks surround Adam Goucher. Goucher, the 2000 US Trials champ, only had one race this year before the Trials a 3:45 1500m back in April. Nonetheless, there was Goucher on Friday night running 13:56.25 to make the final.
On Friday, Goucher certainly looked much better than he did in 2000, when he struggled to make the Olympic Trials 5000 final, qualifying on time, before coming back to miraculously win the final. That's the good news. The bad news is it's a lot harder to make the 5k team in 2008 than 2000.
Not only must Goucher finish in the top 3 to make the Olympics, but he also must run under the Olympic "A" standard of 13:21.50. Bobby Curtis is the only other likely possible Olympic contender who does not have the "A" Standard.
The other main contenders (Tegenkamp, Riley, Lagat, Solinsky, Dobson, and Asmerom) for the top 3 all have the "A" standard, as does Brent Vaughn who appears to be cooked after a long collegiate season. So the question is will Goucher and/or Curtis be forced to push the early pace in order to get the "A" standard?
Goucher's training partners, Galen Rupp and Josh Rohatinsky are both also in the 5k final. Rupp and Rohatisnky are focusing on the 10k final, but are still on the start lists for Monday's final. So the question is, will they run and will they possible rabbit Goucher early in the race to ensure a 13:21.5 pace?
We don't believe so as this article says that Rupp will not toe the line and we've heard from sources that have contacts at Nike that neither is running. That being said, some might wonder why are they still on the start list as Rupp told us on Friday night that you had to declare for the final and that if he didn't declare for the final, they'd give his spot to someone else (although we must admit we've never heard of anyone ever having to declare for a final and think Rupp was likely misinformed).
So we don't think there will be rabbits. We certainly hope there aren't. Even without rabbits, the quality of American 5k running is such that without a designated rabbit the pace could be sub 13:21.50. Hell, if Doug Padilla was able to run 13:16.42 in 1985, then this year's crop can go sub 13:20. The question is who will come out
Predictions: 1) Lagat 2) Tegenkamp 3) Solinsky
Heat 1 Preliminaries 1 Matt Tegenkamp Nike 13:54.62Q 2 Jonathon Riley Nike 13:54.69Q 3 Bernard Lagat Nike 13:54.93Q 4 Stephen Pifer Colorado 13:55.10Q 5 Adam Goucher Nike 13:56.25Q 6 Josh Rohatinsky Nike 13:56.94Q 7 Thomas Morgan ZAP Fitness 13:57.28q 8 Matthew Gabrielson Reebok 14:00.92q 9 Ryan Vail unattached 14:05.26q 10 Brent Vaughn Nike 14:06.90q 11 Hassan Mead unattached 14:07.44 12 Andrew Carlson T USA Minn/N Bal 14:13.78 Heat 2 Preliminaries 1 Galen Rupp unattached 13:59.14Q 2 Chris Solinsky Nike 13:59.65Q 3 Robert Curtis Reebok 14:00.00Q 4 Bolota Asmerom Oregon TC Elite 14:00.48Q 5 Ian Dobson adidas 14:01.42Q 6 Kyle King ZAP Fitness 14:04.82Q 7 Ryan Bak Oregon TC Elite 14:07.42 8 Anthony Gallo Run Flagstaff Mz 14:12.54 9 James Strang Arkansas 14:12.68 10 Ryan Kirkpatrick Reebok 14:29.66 11 Rod Koborsi Reebok 14:30.41 -- Patrick Tarpy Reebok DNF