Women's 1,500m: The Thrill Of Victory (Morgan Uceny) And Agony Of Defeat (Christin Wurth-Thomas)
June 25, 2011
*Race Video And Results At Bottom Of Page
With the stacked women's 1,500m field, which included 2009 World Champs bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury, sub-4:00 1,500m runners Christin Wurth-Thomas, Anna Pierce and Jenny Simpson, and sub-2:00 800m runner Morgan Uceny, someone very good was going to be left off the three-member World Championships team.
With Anna Pierce being a non-factor in the final, the odd woman out was Christin Wurth-Thomas, who suffered the agony of defeat like no other. Wurth-Thomas missed the World Championships by the smallest margin possible - .01 seconds - after leading the entire race and just cratering down the final stretch. We can't think of a more agonizing way to miss the team. Wurth-Thomas earned the respect of everyone in attendance, but she'll be on the sidelines when the 1,500m gun goes off in Daegu.
Wurth-Thomas Takes It Out Hard
As she did in the prelims, Christin Wurth-Thomas surged to the lead and had three-time US champ Treniere Moser and Morgan Uceny in tow. Wurth-Thomas opened a gap on the field and hit the 400m in a quick 62.1. Moser and Clement then held back and were 20 meters down at 600 as Wurth-Thomas extended her lead and tried to steal the race in a gutsy display of frontrunning.
A 66.1 second 400 gave her a nearly 30-meter lead at 800 (2:08.2). Moser, Uceny, and the rest of the competitors followed with a 67.8. The imposing chase group also included Olympians Jenny Simpson, Shannon Rowbury and Anna Pierce, along with Brie Felnagle. At the bell, Wurth-Thomas still had a big lead on the field (3.19 seconds), and Uceny was leading the chase with Jenny Simpson right on her, with Moser, Rowbury and Felnagle in pursuit, while Pierce tried to hang on.
Wurth-Thomas' third lap was a respectable 66.3, and she still had a big lead while Uceny, Simpson and Rowbury were clear of the other chasers with 300m to go.
The Cornell grad Uceny (disclosure: LetsRun.com Rojo coaches the men at Cornell) began to distance herself from Simpson and Rowbury with 200 to go. Just before the water jump, Uceny gave a click glance over her shoulder to make sure she was clear of Simpson and Rowbury, and then she closed hard on Wurth-Thomas. Would Wurth-Thomas hold on for the win?
The Agonizing Final 100m
No. Uceny shot past Wurth-Thomas with 95 meters to go. Uceny closed in 62.32 to win with ease, as she claimed her first outdoor national championship (she won the 2010 indoor 1,500 USATF title) and her first spot on a World Championships Team.
Wurth-Thomas was holding on down the homestretch in second but starting to fade. As the finish approached, she started to lock up completely and 25 meters from the finish she staggered into Simpson as Simpson went by. Could she make it the final 10 meters to the finish before Rowbury? She veered into lane 2 and received a yellow flag, but her and Rowbury were neck-and-neck at the line. They leaned and the photo finish revealed Rowbury had made the team by .01.
After the race, Uceny was obviously pleased to get her first USATF title and make her first World Championships team. She was disappointed her teammate and close friend Anna Pierce did not make it. Uceny has been rightfully overshadowed in the women's mid-d ranks the last few years with the accolades of Simpson, Pierce, Rowbury and Wurth-Thomas, but this was clearly her day. She now turns her attention to Europe and getting under the 4:00 barrier. She leaves for Europe tomorrow and she'll race June 30th (Thursday) in Lausanne.
Jenny Simpson was pleased to make the Worlds team. The NCAA record holder at 1,500m, steeple and 5,000m had finished 5th in the Worlds in 2009 in the steeplechase, but she took on the challenge this year of racing America's best at 1,500m. Simpson pointed out that going into the race not as the favorite is a rarity for her and something she needs to do to develop as a runner. She said her days as a steepler are not over.
The 2009 bronze medallist Rowbury was the biggest benefactor from Wurth-Thomas' fade. Rowbury has been battling back from a spring injury and she needed all 1,500m to make Worlds. After the race, an emotional Rowbury said the final 100m she was just thinking of her grandmother who recently passed away, and that gave her the inspiration she needed to just get past Wurth-Thomas.
Wurth-Thomas held her head high after the race and did not second guess her tactics at all. She said she has been suffering from food poisoning and insomnia this week so she knew the final would be very difficult. She did not sleep last night but stuck to her plan to run from the front. She said she still has big plans for the summer, where she hinted she wants to target Mary Slaney's 28-year-old American record of 3:57.12.
Quick Take #1: Uceny looked very good despite having the slowest PR of the top 5 Americans in the field. Can she now get under 4:00?
Quick Take #2: The US Trials system is full of drama. Christin Wurth-Thomas has been atop the US ranks in 2011 and she won't be going to Worlds. Shannon Rowbury, despite her bronze medal, had to get top 3 to go to Worlds even though she's battled injuries this spring. She needed every inch possible.
Race video, results, and post-race interviews below.
Morgan Uceny After USATF Title #1
Christin Wurth-Thomas On Coming Up .01 Short
Jenny Simpson On Challenging Herself At 1,500m
An Emotional Shannon Rowbury
Men's 800m: LRC Men's 800m: Nick Symmonds Makes it Four in a Row
Women's 800m: LRC Women's 800m: Alysia Goes Wire to Wire
Women's Steeplechase: LRC Emma Coburn Wins, Stephanie Garcia Falls, and Hey Delilah Goes to Korea
Saturday USATF Coverage
Men's 1500m: LRC Matt Centrowitz Jr Pulls Away from Bernard Lagat
Women's 1500m: LRC The Thrill Victory (Morgan Uceny) and Agony of Defeat (Christin Wurth Thomas)
Men's Steeple: LRC Billy Nelson's Return to Oregon is Successful
Friday: USATF Coverage
Men' 5000m: LRC Men's 5,000m: Bernard Lagat's 3:57.80 Close Wins A Thriller Over Chris Solinsky And Galen Rupp
Women's 5000m: LRC Women's 5,000m: Molly Huddle Impresses, Hastings And Bizzarri Continue The Mammoth Mojo
800m Semis: LRC All the Favorites Advance And KD Asks For Some Energy From His Fans In The Final
*Ashton Eaton Sets PR With Decathlon Win, Olympic Gold Medallist Bryan Clay Falls In 110 Hurdles And Doesn't Finish The Meet
*Walter Dix Just Outleans Justin Gatlin To Win US Champs 100
*SI's Tim Layden Takes a Look at Justin Gatlin's Situation
*Post Race Interviews
Complete Thursday USATF Coverage: *10k Photos
Men's 10k: LRC Men's 10,000m: Galen Rupp Closes Out Matt Tegenkamp With 1:52.5 Final 800m
Women's 10k: LRC Women's 10,000m: Shalane Flanagan Goes Wire to Wire Over Kara Goucher and Field
1500m Round 1 and Men's Steeple Round1: LRC Thursday's 1500m Heats: 2011 US Leader Russell Brown Bows Out
800M Round 1: LRC: 800m Round 1 Goes According to Form