Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Men's 10k: Galen Rupp Gets His First USATF Crown In His Last Time in the Duck Jersey
Eugene, OR - Galen Rupp's magical 2009 continued in Eugene on Thurday night as he became the first collegian to ever win the USA and NCAA 10k titles in the same year.
Wearing the green and yellow uniform of Oregon for the last time on Thursday night, Rupp proved what many of us thought we knew coming into the race - he is by far and away the top 10,000m runner right now. It was only fitting that Rupp relied on his calling card in 2009, a lethal kick, to easily pull away from a surprising Dathan Ritzenhein over the final 500m and capture his first USATF National title.
The fact that Rupp used his kick (albeit over a tiring Ritzenhein) to get the win was appropriate as it shows just how much Rupp has transformed himself over the last 12 months. A year ago, Galen Rupp came into Eugene and the Olympic Trials, as the Oregon and Alberto posterboy. Hopes were bright, and Galen did leave as a member of the 2008 US Olympic Team, but there were doubts as well. A year ago, Rupp was viewed as someone who didn't have a kick and almost no one expected Rupp to win the US 10k title (just 3.4% picked him). Now his kick is lethal enough to outkick just about anyone but the very best milers and most expected him to win (68%) in a field that consisted of 10 sub 28:00 guy.
Last year, most fans left Hayward field wondering would the wonderkid ever develop a kick to make him a winner in a major race? Now they don't ask that question unless they are talking about the Olympics or world champs..
Six NCAA titles put those doubts to rest in emphatic question and Rupp barely needed his patented kick again on Thursday. In the course of a year, Rupp went from being the guy who just about everyone assumed who would lose in a kicker's race, to the most feared kicker in the field.
Thursday's race showed Rupp's new found feared status. Rupp wasn't racing a field of 20 year old collegians but America's best, and they all knew they would have to try and do something to drop Rupp before the end of the race. Four time US champ Abdi Abdirahman tried a quick pace the first lap (65.52), but then things settled back down.
Galen Rupp Part 1 |(The Race and the Title (9:48)
Rupp vs Veteran Foes
Abdi however was the first big name to fall off despite his leading for much of the early part of the race. A 64 second lap by James Carney that took the runners through 5k (14:12) pushed Abdi off the back. .Abdi would go on to finish eighth in 28:35. Even though Abdi raved about his fitness prior to the race, Abdi's 8th place finish didn't surprise us as a letsrun.com source told us about an hour before the race that he'd seen Abdi in Flagstaff a couple weeks ago limping at a restaurant, but we were not able to confirm afterwards he had been injured recently.
Ritz Does the Pushing
After 2 slower laps, Ritz upped the ante with two 64 second laps to knock Carney off the back by 8000m (22:30.42). After a slight recovery (65.95), there was a mile to go and Ritz continued to try and push the pace. The pace re-increased to 64.75 and he cracked Nelson who could only manage a 68 that lap but Galen Rupp was sitting pretty right behind Ritzenhein. Ritz kept trying to push (64.34)but it soon became clear that Ritz had an insurmountable task - try and outkick Mr. Lethal kick himself Galen Rupp when Ritz himself was tiring.
Trying to outkick Rupp if you'd been training all year for this race might be conceivable. Trying to do it two months after the London marathon? No way.
Ritzenhein had put up a brave fight, but as he slowed on the penultimate lap (66.29), Rupp decided it was time to strike. He went to the front with 500 to go and the race was all over instantly as at the bell he already had almost two seconds on Ritz (1.93) thanks to his 64.16 lap.
The final lap would serve as a victory lap for Galen Rupp. Looking back the final 150m, celebrating the final 100m, Rupp cruised to the title in 27:52.53 while Ritz was rewarded with a sub 28 clocking (27:58.59).
Nelson made his first US team in 3rd (28:01.34) and James Carney got fourth (28:13), Ed Moran fifth and Keflezighi 6th.
Dathan Ritz Post Race Comments (6:18)
The Oregon faithful got what they wanted on Thursday night and those who came out remained standing after the race as Rupp got his medal on the victory stand. We're not even sure if they realized they were given Rupp a 5 minute silent standing ovation for his fabulous Oregon career.
While Rupp's win may have been expected and was why most of the 8,621 came out on Thursday night (let us pause for a moment and think what it means that even in Track Town a less than capacity crowd came out to see greatest Duck since Prefontaine win his first USATF title (and arguably greatest US distance collegian since Pre as well), the big surprise on Thursday night was Dathan Ritzenhein's 2nd place finish. Ritz told the Register Guard (longer interview to right), "Up until three laps to go I thought I would be able to respond. But Galen closed hard and I just didn't have that kick. I think with the rest of the summer, I can get myself back to where I can kick like that. It worked out almost as good as it could have if Galen hadn't spanked me on that last lap."
Ritz's performance was impressive just 2 months after his 2:10:00 London Marathon. After that race, Ritz was upset with his performance and parted ways with coach Brad Hudson. He has been coaching himself since as he looks for a full-time coach.
The coach of the day however was Alberto Salazar. The marathon legend not only coached Rupp to his first USATF win, but he had his "b" 10k runner, Amy Begley upset Olympic bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan in the 10k. Everything Salazar has touched so far in 2009 has turned into gold.
1 Galen Rupp Oregon 27:52.53 2 Dathan Ritzenhein Nike 27:58.59 3 Tim Nelson Oregon TC Elite 28:01.34 4 James Carney New Balance 28:13.37 5 Edward Moran Nike 28:34.54 6 Meb Keflezighi Nike 28:35.49 7 Patrick Smyth unattached 28:35.70 8 Abdi Abdirahman Nike 28:35.79 9 Jorge Torres Reebok 28:42.13 10 Forest Braden Brooks ID / Brooks 28:43.98 11 Josh Rohatinsky Nike 28:46.65 12 Seth Pilkington New Balance 28:50.86 13 Joshua Moen Team USA Min/Str 28:57.31 14 Jeremy Johnson Team Indiana/Brk 29:02.64 15 Charlie Serrano unattached 29:04.63 16 Luke Puskedra Oregon 29:11.32 17 Lucas Meyer Boston A A 29:14.08 18 James Strang Arkansas 29:17.96 19 Juan Carlos Trujillo unattached 29:31.01 20 Michael Kilburg Hansons-Brooks D P 29:48.14 21 David Jankowski Hansons-Brooks D P 30:15.82 -- Sean Houseworth unattached DNF -- Scott Bauhs adidas DNF -- Edwardo Torres Reebok DNF -- Mikhail Sayenko unattached DNF -- Michael Krisch Georgetown DNF