July 4, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. — The prelims are done in the men’s and women’s steeplechase and men’s 5,000 at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, and everything played out pretty much according to form. The most notable performances came in heat 2 of the men’s 5k. Bernard Lagat looked smooth as silk in winning the heat, while Lopez Lomong — who has run four 800’s (best of 1:48) and a 1500 (3:50) this spring, but no 5k’s — ran well to take the second auto spot. Three days after winning the 10k, Galen Rupp had to battle to earn the final auto qualifier by the narrowest of margins, but it didn’t wind up mattering as his time would have been enough to get through on time anyway.
“I’m looking forward to having a couple days now to really rest up and get ready for the final,” Rupp told the Eugene Register-Guard. “The last lap was the hardest I’ve sprinted in a long time, so it was definitely a good shock to the system, and that’s what I needed to get back into it. Today was great practice for the final.”
Race recaps, results and interviews below.
Men’s 5,000 Prelims
There weren’t any major casualties in the 5,000 as the only man ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. this year to go home was 10th-ranked Sam Chelanga.
Ten Fastest Men in US at 5000 For 2016 (Nubmer in () is world rank)
1 (13) 13:04.17 Hassan Mead
2 (26) 13:12.67 Ben True
3 (53) 13:18.52 Shadrack Kipchirchir
4 (65) 13:20.69 Galen Rupp
5 (69) 13:21.61 Paul Chelimo
6 (77) 13:23.06 Garrett Heath
7 (85) 13:24.25 Sean McGorty
8 (87) 13:24.67 Eric Jenkins
9 (99) 13:27.32 Woody Kincaid
10 (101) 13:27.53 Samuel Chelanga
2:48.13 was the 1000 split for early leader Diego Estrada. A 2:49 second 1000, with Estrada still leading, had the pack strung out in single file. At the half-way point, Ben True was running purposefully in second with Woody Kincaid of Portland in third.
The wind was more of an issue on the backstretch and Estrada seemed to invite others to lead, with no takers. He continued to lead at 3K in 8:26.93 with Garrett Heath now lurking in second.
With 1000 to go Estrada was still saddled with the pace-setting chores and the entire field was still together. A 62.57 penultimate lap shook things up a bit and put Ryan Hill and True in the lead. The racing really started with 200 to go and Kincaid closed in 53.72 over the final 400 to win in 13:46.86; Hill was .03 back. True (13:48.11), Jeff See (13:48.28) and 10K Olympian Shadrack Kipchirchir (13:48.58) were 3-4-5. Estrada got dropped a bit when things got going at 200 to go but was able to fight for sixth and the final auto qualifier in 13:48.71.
Nike Bowerman TC
ASICS FURMAN ELITE
Brooks / BROOKS Beasts TC
Brooks / BROOKS Beasts TC
Team USA Minnesota
Woody Kincaid wins another prelim, hoping for fast race in final
Kincaid was only 9th at NCAAs last month but beat Galen Rupp at the Stumptown Twilight meet on June 23 and has emerged as a dark-horse contender for the Olympic team. Kincaid said that he wasn’t ready for a hard race from the gun at NCAAs but he will be better prepared for that in the Olympic Trials final — he’s actually hoping it goes fast as he needs the 13:25.00 Olympic standard (his PR is 13:27.32).
Ryan Hill Is Fast Enough; Is He Strong Enough?
Ryan Hill talked in more detail about his struggle at Pre and not racing since then until today.
His only questions marks are his confidence and his strength. He said, “I should have good a kick for the final…Hopefully…I should be there the last lap…”
We asked him about not racing well at Pre or at all since then and he said, “Pre’s been weighing heavy on my mind the past month because you never want your last experience before an Olympic Trials to be something bad, especially in the same stadium…I’ve been working to get some confidence going.”
He says in the interview “I’ve still had a few rough workouts (since Pre)”
Off-camera, we asked Hill about his rough workouts and what he meant by that. He said his first 5k-specific workout after Pre went poorly, so that meant two mini training cycles had not gone well. He got coach Jerry Schumacher to let him work out a little earlier when it wasn’t as hot and said mainly it’s about needing to regain his confidence.
We asked if he took downtime after World Indoors and he said he did and then he picked up bursitis in his knee, but it was a minor two-week thing and he has been healthy since.
It’s onto the final, on which Ryan said, “I know I am fast, it’s just ‘am I strong enough?’ and we’ll find out”
QT: Ben True: “It was good to have a little redemption with a little bit of wheels after the disaster of Friday.”
Ben True was back in action after a disappointing 10,000 on Friday where he was almost lapped by Galen Rupp. True was happy with his 54.66 final lap today saying, “It was good to have a little redemption with a little bit of wheels after the disaster of Friday.” Explaining what went wrong in that race True said he was “massively dehydrated” and ended up in the med tent after and was down on the ground unable to get up after the race. He said that for this race he was conscious about taking in as much fluids as he could beforehand.
True also talked about being impressed with Woody Kincaid’s finishing speed and said he hopes the final will be a bit quicker to “zing the kick out of all these young guys”. True mentioned that he hopes to join his wife Sara on the 2016 US Olympic team (she is already qualified in the triathlon) and that she is here to watch him at USAs for the first time.
Garrett Heath didn’t know what was wrong today but he made the final on time
Heath said he felt he ran well tactically and felt good for most of the race, but when the move was made, he said he went lactic immediately and could not respond the way he wanted. He didn’t know why, so Heath — who was .07 from making the team last year — is hoping that his legs are more responsive in the final.
QT: Grant Fisher’s strong freshman year is over
The freshman campaign of two-time Foot Locker XC champ and sub-4 HS miler Grant Fisher came to an end as he was 10th in the heat. We asked Fisher if he was pleased with his freshman campaign and he said he was as he didn’t even expect to make NCAAs. Fisher ran a big pb of 13:30.13 to place 6th at NCAAs.
Thomas Curtin, a brave front-runner in many collegiate races in his career the last few years at Virginia Tech, was unafraid to continue his front-running ways in this heat. Eric Jenkins was in second while Paul Chelimo, Galen Rupp, and Chris Derrick made up the top 5 as the pack hit 1000 in 2:52.46. Hanging mid-pack was Bernard Lagat and Hassan Mead.
A lap later, Brian Shrader took the lead and pace quickened slightly. The group passed 2K in 5:39, two seconds behind the pace of the first heat. Curtin was unsatisfied in second and regained the lead at half-way. Everyone was still in contact as the pace got further and further behind that of the first heat. Shrader regained the lead at 3K after a 71-second lap as the split was 8:35.25, now nearly 9 seconds off of heat 1.
Derrick took the lead soon after squeezing out a 62-second lap from 3200 to 3600 to apply pressure on the field. With all the jostling, Rupp was back in tenth but less than a second from the lead.
11:19.26 at 4K meant that a big close would be necessary for more than six to advance from this heat. And to the delight of the crowd, Rupp decided to make 800 to go his time to move as he quickly put himself in third, on the shoulder of Mead and Chelimo. (A funny sight with 550 to go: javelin winner Cyrus Hostetler sprinted the second half of his victory lap out in lane 7, successful running along with the 5K runners as they hit a lap to go).
The pace was all-out with 200 to go. As the crowd held its breath, it appeared that Rupp would not be in that final six as he had to strain to hold on to the final auto qualifying position, placing sixth in 13:49.50, the same time as seventh place Shrader; Rupp edged him by .001 according to the FAT system.
Lagat would emerge victorious (13:48.36), closing in a race-best 53.64 over his final 400. Lopez Lomong ran a low-key, low-stress race to get second in 13:48.38. Jenkins was third (13:48.63), Mead fourth (13:48.81) and Chelimo fifth (13:49.26). Rupp’s good position with 800 to go proved to help him significantly, as his final 400 of 55.08 barely held of Shrader’s 54.48. Of course, Rupp would have made the final on time with ease, but he clearly was fighting hard to get that sixth spot.
Nike Bowerman TC
Nike Oregon Project
Nike OTC / NIKE OTCE
Nike Oregon Project
Eric Jenkins rebounds after 10k DNF
Jenkins said that he felt a lot better today than in Friday’s 10k — where he dropped out of a race for the first time in his career. Jenkins admitted that he was tying up a little toward the end but felt like he had a little extra in reserve if he needed it.
Lopez Lomong is happy with the way he’s been training and wants to punch his ticket to a third Olympics
QT: NAU Alum And 2014 .US 12K Champ Brian Shrader Gives A Great Interview After Qualifying For The Final
Brian Shrader didn’t give an interview of a professional 5000m runner who’s been there and done it all before. Shrader spoke much like many track fans at LetsRun.com would speak if they got the possibly once in a lifetime opportunity to compete at the Olympic Trials.
Shrader was just psyched to be here in Eugene saying, “For me, being here is a dream come true. A lot of people would try to be tough and say ‘Can’t just be happy to be here.’ … but to be honest, I was on that start line pretty nervous soaking everything in.”
Shrader goes on to talk about trying to help push the pace (to beat the first heat) without sacrificing his finish, the excitement of racing the runners he’s looked up to for years and the play-by-play of trying to kick with guys like Bernard Lagat and Lopez Lomong and almost beating out Galen Rupp at the line. He does all this not finding out until the end of the interview that he was actually in the final. If you’re going to watch a non-big name interview from these Olympic Trials, this is it.
Men’s 3000 Steeplechase Prelims
No big surprises here either, although there was some excitement in heat 2 as those fighting for the final auto qualifying spots fell in two separate incidents. Evan Jager looked completely at easy in winning his race while Donn Cabral was assertive throughout in winning his heat.
Illinois’ Dylan Lafond was the early leader, followed closely by 2012 Olympian Donn Cabral and Bryce Miller. As they hit four laps Cabral surged to the lead and the pack began to spread out as they split 4:33; Andrew Bayer was right on his shoulder in second.
With one to go, a group of five had separated for the auto spots: Cabral, Bayer, Stanley Kebenei, Craig Forys, and Daniel Huling
Cabral remained intent on leading as he, Bayer and Kebenei continued to pick up the pace on the final lap. Finishing strong, Cabral finished first in a brisk 8:26.96; Bayer was second in 8:27.66 and Kebeni third in 8:28.84. Huling (8:30.34) and Forys (8:30.42) picked up the final auto qualifying slots. All four time qualifiers came from this heat.
Nike Bowerman TC
Nike Bowerman TC
ASICS FURMAN ELITE
Hoka One One / NJ-NY TC
M J Erb
QT: Cabral said his 2016 season is kind of the opposite of his 2012 season
In 2012, Cabral had just finished up his career at Princeton with an NCAA win after having run a pb of 8:19 earlier in the year. Cabral said it was just a matter of hoping his career-best running continued a little while longer (it did all the way until the Olympic final). This year, Cabral said while he’s been training well his races have been disappointing (3:44 1500, 8:29 steeple, 13:29 5000) so he has just been telling himself it’s a matter of time before his races turn around. As a result, today’s heat win was a mental boost for Cabral who thinks his sub-par races were the result of him still being in a tough workout phase.
QT: Bayer: “There’s only three of us and there are three spots, so why not get them all.”
Asked if it was tough racing against his Bowerman Track Club teammates for an Olympic spot, Bayer said, “There’s only three of us and there are three spots so why not get them all.” Bayer said he felt smooth today and thought he had the potential to run 8:10 this year.
QT: Dan Huling is not as obsessed as he was when he missed out in the 2012 Trials
Huling has made four World Championship teams — with a best finish of fifth last year — but never an Olympics. He’s in good position to do so this year. Huling said that four years ago, he was forcing everything but this time around, he’s more relaxed. Huling turns 33 in two weeks, has a wife and young son and recently bought a house. Obviously, he wants to make the team, but said he wouldn’t be too upset if he doesn’t.
“In 2012, I was like, ‘This is a different event,’” Huling said. “And this year, it hasn’t even really felt like an Olympic year to be honest.”
The early leader was 2016 NCAA champion Mason Ferlic of Michigan, while American record-holder Evan Jager was hanging back in sixth. As the still-bunched crowd hit four to go, Mike Hardy had emerged in the lead with Jager hovering on his shoulder, over-taking him on every hurdle, and then content to fall back into second.
At 1000 to go, Jager made his move to the front for good, comfortably taking the lead and opening things up with ease. Cory Leslie and Hillary Bor were in tow, while Ferlic and Darren Fahy made up the top five as Jager hit the bell lap. With 200 to go, however, Fahy fell to the track, opening things up for Aric van Halen, who then proceeded to fall in the water jump.
Jager crossed first in 8:33.73, Ferlic moved up to second in 8:34.45 while Bor was a close third in 8:34.48. Leslie eased up in 8:36.97 for fourth while Isaac Updike was able to stay on his feet to grab the final auto qualifying qualifying slot in 8:37.14
Nike Bowerman TC
Team Run Eugene
Aric Van Halen
QT: NCAA champ Mason Ferlic can’t front-run the final like he did at NCAAs
Ferlic dominated the steeple at NCAAs, winning by three seconds in 8:27 (it would have been more, but Ferlic tied up badly over the final 200) but he knows he can’t lead like that in the Olympic Trials final as a guy like Evan Jager is just going to sit on him and blow him away. So Ferlic will have to run more conservatively.
QT: Cory Leslie Knows He’s Up Against A Distance Field “As Deep As Any Distance Race In The Country”
Leslie (who had the 6th-best qualifying mark coming into the meet) said he “never quite got comfortable, never got in the rhythm” of things as he hadn’t done a steeple since June 2nd. But he feels like training has gone well and is excited for the final, which he feels is as deep as any other distance field in the country.
Women’s 3000 Steeplechase Prelims
There were no major casualties in the first round here as the women with the top 7 American times so far in 2016 all advanced. American record-holder Emma Coburn looked particularly strong in an event where everyone in the final has the Olympic standard.
Ten Fastest Women in US at 5000 For 2016 (Number in () is world rank)
1 (3) 9:10.76AR Emma Coburn – Auto qualifier for final
2 (7) 9:18.85 Leah O’Connor – Auto qualifier for final
3 (14) 9:24.41 Courtney Frerichs – Auto qualifier for final
4 (26) 9:29.77 Ashley Higginson – Auto qualifier for final
5 (39) 9:35.89 Stephanie Garcia – Auto qualifier for final
6 (43) 9:36.55 Mel Lawrence – time qualifier for final
7 (44) 9:36.88 Megan Rolland – Auto qualifier for final
8 (45) 9:37.12 Jamie Cheever – ran 10:01.46 and didn’t advance
9 (49) 9:39.84 Nicole Bush – time qualifier for final
10 (54) 9:40.94 Sarah Pease – didn’t advance despite running 9:46.83
Ashley Higginson, Nicole Bush, and Courtney Frerichs took control of the race early as they came through the first lap in an honest 75.0 and two laps in 2:32. By the next lap, Bridget Franek had joined the top 4 as they crossed four laps in 5:04.
With 1000 to go, Frerichs took the lead and then the group dropped Bush with two laps to go. Sarah Pease moved to fifth on the penultimate water jump and attempted to challenge Bush in the last lap and a half.
Franek eased into the lead after the final jump to take the win in 9:39.93, a seasonal best and well under the Olympic Standard, as Frerichs and Higginson also let up to take the top three qualifying spots.
Brooks / Team Run Eugene
Nike Bowerman TC
Maddie Van Beek
Hoka One One / NJ-NY TC
QT: Bridget Franek Wants To Break Her 9:29 PR In The Final
Franek was second at the 2012 Olympic Trials and went on that year to run a 9:29 PR and finish 12th at the London Olympics. She hasn’t been back at that level since though, but took a good first step today by running a season’s best by 10 seconds to win her heat. Franek said “no matter what happens” in the final, she wants to break her PR as with the field this year there is “no excuse” not to PR. Franek said she had some injury issues early in the spring, but feels she’s ready to run her best. “I’m healthy right now and I feel lean as I’ve ever been and hopefully my fitness is there.”
QT: Courtney Frerichs: “That was the easiest 9:40 I’ve ever run.”
NCAA champ Frerichs ran her first race in a Bowerman Track Club singlet, though she is still being coached by coach Joe Franklin at the University of New Mexico until after NCAAs. She said her prelim felt really good and it “was the easiest 9:40 she’s ever run.” Frerichs feels she’s been able to close really fast in her races this year because she’s gone unchallenged in the middle laps racing against NCAA competition, but hopes facing the pros will help push her more. She thinks it will take a PR to make the team and is ready to go after that in the final.
QT: Ashley Higginson said Leah O’Connor’s 9:18 at Pre excited her to believe that she can reach that level too
O’Connor soundly beat Higginson at Pre (9:18 to 9:33) but Higginson was 5th at USAs last year, much closer (four seconds) to O’Connor. Higginson feels that she’s ready to reach a new level in the steeple like O’Connor did in that race. She’ll need to as she’s not one of the favorites on paper.
Stephanie Garcia wasted no time at the gun, assertively taking the lead and bringing the pack through one lap in 74.3. Leah O’Connor was right on her heals, closely followed by Colleen Quigley. This trio, the clear class of the field in terms of personal bests, were intent on not getting into trouble and advancing without any stumbles.
The honest pace spread things out quickly and by four laps (split in 5:01.2) the lead trio was 15 meters clear of last month’s NCAA runner-up Jessica Kamilos. Quigley, recently returned from an injury lay-off, seemed at times to be working to hang on as Garcia and O’Connor were the pace initiators. With two laps to go, the threesome was more than 50 meters clear of fourth place Kamilos. At the bell, Garcia began to pull away before O’Connor reeled her in over the final 100 meters to win in 9:35.77. Kamilos was fourth in 9:41.
Nike Bowerman TC
Gazelle Sports Elite
Oiselle / Club Northwest
QT: Leah O’Connor is thriving in 2016 as she’s racing less and not putting as much pressure on herself
O’Connor felt she was in 9:20 shape last year, but said she put too much pressure on herself, which inhibited her performance. She also broke a bone in her foot, which put a damper on her first professional summer. But she’s raced less this year and has thrived in her biggest races, taking 4th at USA Indoors in the 3k and running her massive 9:18 at Pre.
QT: Colleen Quigley’s first work over barriers came just three weeks ago
Quigley missed a sizeable chunk of time this year and didn’t even do a workout over barriers until three weeks ago. She said that she and coach Jerry Schumacher have instead been focused on rebuilding her general fitness and that today wasn’t too taxing but was still a good simulation of getting back to race effort in the steeple. Quigley has her work cut out for her to make the team, but based on today’s run, she should be in the hunt.
We also got a 2nd interview with Quigley when the Associated Press asked her about giving up a modeling career to try to be a runner.
QT: Stephanie Garcia: “I feel fantastic. I’ve had the best couple weeks of training in my life. I’m so fit. I’m ready to go.”
Garcia said she felt really smooth and easy in this prelim running 9:35.95 which gave her a lot of confidence after not being happy with the way her only other steeple went this year when she ran 9:35.89 for 10th place at the Stockholm Diamond League.
No one wanted to run with American record holder Emma Coburn as she had a 15-meter lead by the first water jump. Crossing her first lap in 74.6, Coburn was completely unimpeded at each barrier. Megan Rolland and 2012 Olympian (also Coburn’s former teammate at Colorado) Shalaya Kipp had bridged the gap by the second water jump as a slight break occurred to the rest of the field, which ballooned to 50 meters as the group hit four laps to go.
Splitting four laps in 5:02, Coburn maintained a slight lead over Rolland and a ten-meter lead over Kipp. Mel Lawrence was leading the chase back, by now nearly 60 meters back.
Coburn continued to squeeze the pace, faster and faster (two 74s and a 75) and her command of the field only grew as they hit two to go. With 600 to go, Kipp had regained contact with Rolland but the race was effectively over. Coburn would cruise the last lap for the win in 9:35.26. Rolland held on for second in 9:37.90, while Kipp crossed in a seasonal best 9:38.01.
Team Run Eugene
QT: Emma Coburn Is More Confident Than She Was as a 21-Year-Old Olympian in 2012
Coburn said that she’s never been freaked out by being viewed as a favorite, but that she’s become a lot more comfortable with it in recent years.
QT: Rolland Is Enjoying A Dream Season – Can She Get The Fairytale Ending In The Final?
In college at D2 Humboldt State, where she graduated in the fall of 2010, Rolland only ran 10:27 for the steeple. Then she became a full-time ER nurse. Two years ago, she decided to be courageous and quit her job and see what she could do as a full-time runner. She ran 9:56 in 2014, 9:53 in 2015 but has seen that leap of faith really pay off this year as she’s run 9:36.88 under the tutelage of the Idaho Track Club’s Pat McCurry.
Now that she’s in the final, Rolland isn’t conceding anything. She thinks anything is possible in the final – particularly since it’s a steeplechase where people can very easily fall.
QT: Shalaya Kipp: “I’m hoping to surprise myself [in the final.]”
Kipp is a returning Olympian and Worlds qualifier. She said she hadn’t ran as fast as she wanted to earlier in the season (she had a SB of 9:42), but her last four weeks of training have gone really well so she is hoping to “surprise herself” in the final. Kipp says she gets a lot of confidence from training with Emma Coburn and hopes she can be a “dark horse” by making the team.
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