July 8, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. — The stage is set for a tremendous women’s 1500m final on Sunday as former world champion Jenny Simpson, American record holder Shannon Rowbury, and 2013 800m bronze medallist Brenda Martinez all advanced to the final along with former high school stars Alexa Efraimson and Mary Cain, among others.
Kerri Gallagher, who made Worlds last year, but had appendicitis this spring, was the biggest name who started not to advance. Four-time US champ Treniere Moser did not start, and her career will likely end without an Olympic appearance.
With the rain temporarily out of the picture, heat 1 stepped to the line under cloudy skies with no wind but a very wet track.
Sara Vaughn shot to the early lead with Heather Kampf right on her shoulder. Alexa Efraimson and Shannon Rowbury lurked in third and fourth. Jenny Simpson was content to hold back.
Kampf brought them through 400 in 67.9 as Simpson began to join the main challengers and put herself in second with 800 to go.
800 meters was split in 2:18.3 and Kampf was still leading. As they hit 500 to go, Simpson and Rowbury were poised to take the lead and Simpson did exactly that at the bell. Rowbury, Efraimson, and Cory McGee were poised to follow her move.
A 65.4 lap had Simpson go through 1200 in 3:23.6 and Simpson kept control throughout the last lap. In the final 100, Simpson, Rowbury and Efraimson easily separated from the rest of the pack. Simpson took first in 4:10.09, Rowbury was .15 back in second and Efraimson ran 4:10.49. Vaughn was fourth in 4:11.26, while Stephanie Brown grabbed the fifth and the final auto spot in 4:11.30.
Sixth placer Gabriele Grunewald (4:11.86) and seventh placer Sara Sutherland (4:11.92) would also advance as their times held up.
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ASICS / Team USA Minnesota
QT: Jenny Simpson: “I knew I had to come into the race today … and know that’s it’s going to feel like you’re at Hayward running a hard 15.”
Simpson said she approached this semi like it was any other race and knew that with so many good women it wouldn’t feel super easy. Simpson said, “You’re standing on the line and thinking, ‘These people could run a legitimate race and make it hard and fast.’ And so I never looked at the clock, but I just knew I had to come into the race today thinking of it not as a qualifier, but just go in and compete against everybody and know that’s it’s going to feel like you’re at Hayward running a hard 15.”
So with the semi behind her Simpson said, “I’m so happy I’m through to the final. It doesn’t matter how many times you do it or how confident you are. It’s a relief to be through.” Simpson said that the final will almost be easier stress wise as it’s simpler with everyone just trying to win and/or be top-3.
Simpson was really excited that her high school coach and his wife from Florida traveled all the way to Eugene to watch her compete at the Trials.
QT: Shannon Rowbury Fighting Her “Inner Urges” To Win The Rounds
Rowbury talked about the difficulty of remembering the rounds are rounds and saving her “A game” for the final. Rowbury said, “It is a little strange to go through the rounds and fight my inner urges to move up more or try to win when the top 6 or top 5 automatically qualify. You’re sort of playing this little game.”
QT: Alexa Efraimson May Still Only Be 19 Years Old, But She’s Far More Experienced Than She Was A Year Ago
Efraimson turned pro in the fall of 2014 and actually ran three seconds faster last year as a high school senior — 4:03 — than she has so far this spring. But she didn’t make the U.S. final last year, finishing 4th in her heat at USAs. Efraimson may not have PR’d since then, but she feels that after a year on the professional circuit, she has gained a lot of experience that has helped her to prepare for meets like these. She didn’t show any nerves out there today — even after falling in yesterday’s prelim — running smartly and confidently alongside veterans Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson at the front of her heat.
QT: Gabriele Grunewald Did Not Expect to Find Herself in the 1500 Final
Grunewald was focused on the 5k at the Trials, but after bombing out in the prelims yesterday, she had to come up with another plan. She said she “wasn’t planning on making an appearance in the 1500 this weekend” but quickly readjusted and ran the 1500 prelims a couple hours after her 5k heat. She advanced, and though she said she could definitely feel the weight of yesterday’s two races in her legs, she did enough to make it to Sunday’s final on time. Grunewald is extremely grateful for the rest, though the final will still be her fourth race in four days.
QT: Sara Vaughn Thanks Her Babysitters
QT: Stephanie Brown Won’t Push the Pace in the Final
Brown needs the Olympic qualifying standard (4:07.00) but said she won’t be the one pushing the pace in the final if somehow it is not fast as she does not do well leading.
QT: Complications from Appendicitis Cost Gallagher
Gallagher, made Worlds last year, but had her appendix removed in April and then had complications from the surgery that caused her to miss a month of training. It was too much to overcome tonight.
HSer Chritina Aragon (who is Stanford bound) talks about the Trials and Drew Hunter’s decision to go pro:
Elise Cranny was fastest through 50 meters but slowed down to allow Erin Donohue the honors in leading. The slow pace saw some early jostling and pre-race favorites Morgan Uceny and Brenda Martinez stayed out of trouble in the back.
Donohue came through 400 in 67.1 and most were content to bide their time, although Amanda Eccleston had moved into second, with Cranny in third. At 800, heat 2 continued to be slightly faster than the first as Donohue hit it in 2:17.1.
At 600 to go, Uceny had established herself in second and at the bell, Uceny seemed poised to strike and they hit 1200 in 3:25.1. As Donohue slowed, Uceny took the lead heading into 200 to go, and then Martinez took to the lead as they hit the turn with Uceny in close pursuit.
Martinez pulled away to place first in 4:11.05, while Eccleston looked strong in moving up for second in 4:11.28. Crossing comfortably in third was Uceny, who ran 4:11.64. Mary Cain stayed out of trouble throughout the race and managed fourth in 4:12.39, while Lauren Johnson was fifth in 4:12.64, in the final auto qualifying spot. The time qualifiers would come from heat #1.
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Hoka One One / NJ-NY TC
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QT: Brenda Martinez said she still had a few gears left in today’s prelim
When Martinez went, she went strong, but she said that she could have closed faster at the end of the race if needed. That’s a good sign, because her 62.05 final 400 was right on par with Simpson (62.05) and Rowbury (61.99) in heat 1. Martinez looked great in the 800 final and was probably going to make the team — if not win the race — before she fell. Now she has a shot for redemption in the 1500 and will be the sentimental favorite for many in the Hayward Field grandstands.
Elise Cranny Will Be Better Because of Her Experience at The Trials
QT: The Olympics are hard to make
Treniere Moser has four US titles, but her career will likely end without a trip to the Olympics after she didn’t start today.
QT: Mary Cain Won’t Push For the Standard from the Front, Said Today’s 4:12 Felt Like 80% Effort
Cain has her work cut out for her to make the team as she needs the 4:07.00 Olympic standard, but she’s looked solid so far in the rounds after a so-so season heading into the Trials. She said her run today felt like it took 80% effort, which is a good sign as her time today was her second-fastest since July 2015.
Say what you want about Cain, but she’s made four straight U.S. 1500 finals and is only 20 years old. That’s pretty darn impressive.
Kate Murphy Post-Race:
The HSer says she’s already learned some Polish as she departs on Tuesday for World Juniors.
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