2016 USA Indoors Preview, W 3000: Shannon Rowbury Battles Emily Infeld, Shelby Houlihan, Marielle Hall & Abbey D’Agostino

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By LetsRun.com
March 10, 2016

A very exciting 10 days of track and field kicks off on Friday, March 11. That date marks the start of the U.S. and NCAA indoor meets (both March 11-12); a week later, the World Indoor Championships will be held in Portland from March 17-20. LRC will be on-site at all three meets and we’ll have comprehensive previews of the mid-d/distance events in the buildup (You can find all our NCAA Indoors coverage here).

We give you the need-to-know details about U.S. Indoors below before taking a closer look at the men’s 3000 below.

LRC event previews: M 800 * W 800 * M 1500 * W 1500 * M 3000

What: 2016 USATF Indoor Championships

When: March 11-12, 2016

Where: Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Oregon

How to watch: Live on USATF.tv (Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET to finish; Saturday, 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. ET); live on NBC Sports Network (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET to 10 p.m. ET); NBC Sports Network will also air tape-delayed coverage of Friday’s events from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m ET on Friday night

World Indoors qualifying procedure
The top two finishers at USAs with the IAAF standard (9:00i or 8:36/14:56 outdoors) get to go to Worlds. The catch is that athletes must have achieved the standard before USAs (March 7 was the deadline).

Schedule * Entries * TV/streaming infoAll LRC coverage * 2015 LRC coverage

Women’s 3000 (Friday 8:35 p.m. ET)

NamePBSBComment
Shannon Rowbury8:29.938:53.52Defending champ in mile/2-mile has been unstoppable indoors once again; also entered in 1500
Marielle Hall8:54.488:54.70’15 outdoor runner-up in 5k ran 15:06 pb at Millrose
Abbey D’Agostino8:51.888:51.88Ran well for 2nd at NBIGP but fell off pace at Millrose to run 15:24 5k
Lauren Paquette8:57.788:57.78 29-year old 4:09 1500 runner ran a huge 10.23 second pb earlier this year. Ran collegiately at Baylor (Lauren Hagans)
Leah O’Connor8:59.448:59.44Just missed out on making Team USA in steeple last year
Shalaya Kipp9:00.929:00.92 2012 Olympian. 2013 Worlds.
Sarah Boyle9:04.389:04.38 Had 9:14 pb coming inot the year.
Elaina Balouris9:09.189:09.18Made Team USA for World XC in ’15
Amber Schultz9:09.499:09.49 Ran collegiately for Weber State.
Natalie Schudrowitz9:13.539:13.53Heps 5k champ from Brown
Sarah Feeny9:13.879:13.87Utah runner was 3rd in mile at MPSF Champs
Nicole Blood9:11.239:14.51Former Oregon collegian is back in game after coaching for a few years.
Megan Rolland9:14.689:14.68 9:53 steeple pb.
Megan Patrignelli9:04.969:16.06 10:03 steeple pb.
Carmen Graves9:16.429:16.42 9:47 steeple pb.
Emily Infeld8:41.43N/ARan 15:00 5k pb at Millrose
Shelby Houlihan9:03.71N/ARan 15:06 5k pb at Millrose

Bold denotes athlete has World Indoor standard

This race presents two possibly different questions.

1. Who wins?

2. Who goes to Worlds?

Believe it or not, two of the top women entered in the race — Bowerman Track Club teammates Emily Infeld and Shelby Houlihan — do not have the World Indoor standard. Yes, that’s right, Emily Infeld, the world 10,000 bronze medallist, doesn’t have the 9:00 standard as she didn’t run a 3000 during the qualifying window. Yes we know she ran 15:00.91 for 5000 a few weeks ago which is 9:00 pace for 5k but neither her first 3k (9:01) nor last 3k (9:02ish) was under 9:00.

And since athletes can’t get the standard at USAs, that means that Infeld won’t putting on the USA singlet next week unless the IAAF ignores the rules. Instead, that honor will fall to two out of Shannon Rowbury, Marielle Hall, Abbey D’Agostino or Lauren Paquette; they’re the only four women with the standard. (update: a message boarder has pointed out Paquette ran her qualifying time on a 300m track so it does not count for World standards).

Rowbury won the 2-mile at USAs in 2015

Rowbury won the 2-mile at USAs in 2015

Rowbury, the defending champ, is the favorite should she choose to run this event. Rowbury is currently entered in the 1500 as well (which is a day after the 3k) and while the double is doable at USAs (Rowbury successfully won both events last year), it’s not really feasible at Worlds (four races in three days, with the 1500 and 3000 prelims separated by less than five hours). Most likely, she’ll either scratch from one event at USAs (though she may have to run the 3k in order to do the 1500 now that she’s declared for both) or run both and decide which event to do at Worlds. The 1500 is her best shot at gold at Worlds seeing as Genzebe Dibaba and Meseret Defar both figure to be in the 3k.

Still, a fresh Rowbury is better than anyone else in this field over 3000 meters, though it could be close between Rowbury and Infeld. Infeld ran 15:00.91 at Millrose, the #3 time ever by an American indoors, and, in case you forgot, won the U.S.’s only distance medal at Worlds last year in the 10,000. Clearly, she’s in great shape. But the shorter the distance, the more it favors Rowbury. Rowbury ran 8:29 and 14:48 less than two years ago and she smoked Infeld over 3k after last year’s World Champs, running 8:39 to Infeld’s 8:52 in Zurich. Infeld, meanwhile, was only 4th at USAs in the 5k outdoors last year, and while she has improved since then, Rowbury presents a nightmare matchup. Infeld’s not strong enough to drop Rowbury, and she doesn’t have the raw speed to outkick her. Infeld’s ideal scenario is a relatively honest (but not blistering) pace that takes some of the sting out of Rowbury’s kick. That’s how Molly Huddle beat Rowbury in the 5k at USAs in 2014, and it’s how Infeld beat Huddle at Worlds last year. Otherwise, Infeld has to hope that Rowbury isn’t in great 3k shape right now (unlikely; if she wasn’t, she wouldn’t be running it at USAs) or hope that Rowbury scratches and only runs the 1500 (which may not be possible at this point).

Hall, Infeld and D'Agostino (along with Nicole Tully) battled in the 5k last year at USA Outdoors

Hall, Infeld and D’Agostino (along with Nicole Tully) battled in the 5k last year at USA Outdoors

In fact, Infeld may not even finish as the runner-up. Two of the women who beat her in the 5k at USAs last year — D’Agostino and Hall — will share the start line with her on Friday. Infeld should still be favored for second, as she beat both Hall and D’Agostino convincingly in the 5k at Millrose (for Worlds qualifying purposes, it doesn’t matter if Infeld beats them as they have the standard and she doesn’t). But Hall, who ran 8:54 to beat milers Sheila Reid, Heather Kampf and Amanda Eccleston at the Armory Track Invite on February 5, could challenge Infeld in a tactical race, and D’Agostino is the U.S. leader for 2016 at 8:51.88 (though she finished well back of Infeld and Hall at Millrose). We should also mention Infeld’s teammate Shelby Houlihan, who was just .17 behind Hall at Millrose. Houlihan’s 15:06.22 in that race was a 43-second personal best, and with pbs of 2:01 and 4:28, she’s most definitely a threat in a championship race as she’s got great speed.

Lauren Paquette. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER NOLAN PHOTOGRAPHY

The real battle, though, is between D’Agostino, Hall and Paquette (a Baylor alum now based in Memphis) who is having a massive year (10+ second pb), who will be battling for one or (more likely) two spots if Rowbury decides not to run the 3k at USAs or Worlds. D’Agostino and Hall have run faster than Paquette this year, giving them the edge, though Paquette did run a solo 8:57 in her only 3k of the year, so she has room for improvement. Head-to-head, Hall has had the edge over D’Agostino in recent years (she’s 4-0 against her since the start of 2014), and considering she beat her handily at Millrose, we favor her for the second spot on Team USA behind Rowbury.

LRC prediction: Rowbury and Infeld go 1-2 in that order, but Rowbury chooses to focus on the 1500 at World Indoors, leaving Hall and D’Agostino as your U.S. 3k team.


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