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Lagat Completes First Half of Double Title Defense
By David Monti
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
June 22, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS (22-Jun) -- After finishing second in the first heat of the 1500m preliminaries tonight, a reporter asked Bernard Lagat where he would be at 8:35 p.m. when the 5000m final

would begin.  Smiling mischievously, the 32 year-old from Tucson, Ariz. said simply, "We will see."

A little more than two hours later, with the daylight in this Midwest city just beginning to fade, Lagat was standing on the 5000m starting line, and he was indeed ready to race.

"Every time I go on to the track I want to win," he said later.

And win he did, using the kind of leg speed that only a two-time Olympic medalist can summon so late in the race.  Running a distant second to Matt Tegenkamp at the bell, Lagat blasted down the backstraight after Adam Goucher launched a long kick 300m from home and tried to pass him.  Lagat not only beat back Goucher's challenge, but as he pulled away rounding turn three, he could see the gap to Tegenkamp was closing.  Coming out of turn four, Lagat got past the tall redhead, and kept his speed to the line, breaking the tape in 13:30.73.  Despite starting his kick fairly late, he still recorded a swift 56.1 second final lap.

"I knew I had to run fast to beat Matt Tegenkamp," Lagat told reporters.  "He almost got away from me."

Tegenkamp, who along with Ian Dobson broke the race open after the field lumbered through the 3000m in 8:25.8, had to press hard in the final few meters to hold off Goucher who never stopped sprinting.  Tegenkamp finished second, the same position as last year, in 13:31.31, holding off Goucher by just 19/100ths of a second.  He was confident that this race had set him up for a big performance at the IAAF World Championships in Osaka in August.

"Jerry (Schumacher), my coach, and I have a plan," said Tegenkamp.  "The main goal in Osaka is not making the final, but getting up there with the Kenyans."  He added: "I'm not afraid to get up there."

As for Goucher, whose wife Kara made the women's team in the 10,000m last night, he thought he might be able to nip Tegenkamp before the line.  "I definitely closed the gap, but I just couldn't get him," he said.

Lagat said that he would not double in Osaka, and would concentrate solely on the 1500m.  That means that the fourth place finisher, Jonathon Riley (who trains with Tegenkamp), has provisionally secured a team berth.  He needs to run at least the "B" standard of 13:28.00 before August 13 [NOTE: USATF may require him to get the standard earlier --Ed.].  If he does not, 5th place finisher Ed Moran would be named to the team; he already bettered the "A" standard of 13:21.50 earlier this year.

The standard on Shalane Flanagan's mind was a completely different one in the women's 5000m.  Dissatisfied with a merely respectable early pace of 3:03.38 for the first kilometer, Flanagan set out on her own and gave her own American record an honest run.  Like Deena Kastor the night before in the 10,000m, Flanagan was simply racing the clock, her lead over Jen Rhines and Michelle Sikes growing with each lap.  She split 3000m in 8:56.58, and 4-K in 11:54.87.  Running the last kilometer in 2:56.88, she ran the fourth-fastest 5000m ever by an American, clocking 14:51.75.

"I tried to be patient at the beginning, but I wanted to see what I could do out there by myself and hopefully bring some girls to some fast times," Flanagan told USATF.  "It will take a really strong last 1,000m (to make finals at the World Championships) - I wasn't as strong as I wanted to be today. I hope to just establish myself as an aggressive American runner."

Rhines won a last lap sprint against Sikes, the 2007 NCAA 5000m champion, clocking 15:08.53 to Sikes's new personal best 15:09.28.

"I wanted to give Shalane some kind of race," said Rhines who rekindled her love for track last year after focusing on marathon running.  "I'm having fun  this year stepping down. I think I needed a break from the marathon and 10-K."

With either the IAAF "A" or "B" standards in hand, Flanagan, Rhines and Sikes will all receive positions on the U.S. team for Osaka.

Defending champion Lauren Fleshman finished fourth in 15:24.60 despite coming to a complete stop late in the race.

"It was, like, really weird," said Flanagan who reported hearing a voice in her head which told her to stop.

QUALIFYING REPORT: In the men's 1500m qualifying, both heats went relatively fast.  Leonel Manzano of the University of Texas won the first heat by a small margin over Bernard Lagat, 3:39.29 to 3:39.40.  Amongst the favorites for Sunday's final, Chris Lukezic also advance by finishing third.  Alan Webb, the U.S. indoor champion, won the second heat, despite getting boxed-in in the last 100m.  "I maded it harder for myself, actually," said Webb, who added, "I can't make those mistakes on Sunday."  Gabe Jennings, who recently moved to Eugene, Ore., to have his training supervised by Vin Lananna and Dick Brown, finished a strong second.  "I"m just trying to get some momentum," said Jennings...  In 800m qualifying, none of the favorites were eliminated on the women's side, although Nicole Teter failed to finish in heat 1.  Sixteen year-old Chanelle Price advanced to the final.  "I worked so hard just to make it to the final," said Price who attends Easton Area High School in Pennsylvania.  Khadevis Robinson and Nick Symmonds led their respective heats on the men's side, setting up a great showdown for Sunday's final.  "It's amazing," said Symmonds who came into this meet a year ago so completely unknown he wore his high school singlet... In the first round of the men's steeplechase, the only casualty was Brian Olinger who finished 8th in the first heat and failed to advance.  U.S. record holder and defending champion Dan Lincoln got through by finishing second in heat 2 behind Steve Slattery.  Anthony Famiglietti won the first heat in 8:34.85, just 3/100ths of a second ahead of Joshua McAdams.

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