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by Mike Scott
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (08-Jun) -- Fast steeplechases and 5000s highlighted the track competition on Friday at the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships at Sacramento's Hornet Stadium.

Men's Steeple

First up was the men's steeplechase which saw favorite Aaron Aguayo out fast from the gun with Arkansas' Peter Kosgei, Florida State's Andrew Lemoncello, and Mississippi's Barnabas Kirui right on his heels.  Aguayo continued to lead the foursome through four laps in 4:28.3, then Kirui jumped into the lead with three laps to go.  Kirui easily pulled away from the field, with Lemoncello running alone in second and Aquayo, Colorado's Bill Nelson and others battling for third.  Kirui extended his through to the finish to win in a personal best 8:20.36.

"The pace was really comfortable," said Kirui.  "It was high, but not too high, so it was easy for me to sit and wait for the right time for me to make my move."

Lemoncello claimed runner up honors in 8:27.29, while Aguayo was third in 8:32.40 and Nelson fourth in 8:33.33.

New Collegaite Record In Ladies Steeple
The women's steeplechase featured a highly anticipated battle between last year's champion Jenny Barringer (Colorado), the new collegiate record holder Lindsey Anderson (Weber State), Mideast regional champ Anna Willard (Michigan), and 2003 NCAA champion Kassi Anderson.  Michigan State's Nichole Bush took the early lead in the steeplchase, with Willard, Barringer, L. Anderson, and the rest of the pack just behind.  Towards the end of the first circuit, a competitor clipped Barringer's shoe.

"Someone clipped my shoe and the heel came out underneath me,” said Barringer. "I tried to calmly put it back on and get some time back."

Barringer lost about 60 meters to the field and slowly began to reel in the pack.

In Barringer's absence, L. Anderson took the lead and began to push the pace with only Willard willing to move with her and give chase.  The duo quickly began to put some distance between themselve and the rest of the field, completing four laps (with an inside water jump) in 5:08.  The collegiate record holder continued to lead with Willard on her shoulder during the second half the race until Willard surged past her on the homestretch with just over a lap to go.

"I was originally going to wait till 300 meters and rely on my short speed," said Willard, "but then I decided 'why not?' and I went at the five and it was a good decision."

Willard powered away from Anderson over the final lap and crossed the finish line in 9:38.08, a new collegiate record which made her the second fastest American performer of all time behind Briana Shoot's 9:29.32 from 2004.

"It was fantastic," said Willard.  "I felt great, prepared, and extremely confident."

Behind Willard, L. Anderson held on for runner-up honors in 9:46.48, while Florida State's Barbara Parker claimed third and Duke's Liz Wort four in 9:48.82 and 9:51.76 respectively.  BYU's Anderson was fifth in 9:52.10, while Barringer --despite losing approximately ten seconds while replacing her shoe-- still managed to crack the 10:00 barrier with her seventh place 9:59.81 effort.

The men's 5000 featured Wisconsin's Chris Solinsky attempting to defend the title he won here a year ago.

Colorado's Brent Vaughn set a fast early pace, passing 1600M in 4:20.8 with Liberty's Josh McDougal, Villanova's Bobby Curtis, Solinsky, and the rest of the field right on his heels.  Vaughn continued to lead the pack through 3000M in 8:12.78, with McDougal, Solinsky, and Curtis closely packed behind.  Solinsky surged into the lead with just over 1000-meters remaining and quickly gapped the field.  Curtis, McDougal, Louisville's Wesley Korir, South Alabama's Tonny Okello, and Arizona's Obed Mutanya battled for second.  Solinsky ran 2:34.1 for the final kilometer to win in 13:35.12.

"Coach had told me to be ready for anything," said Solinsky. "This race [the NCAA 5000 championship] has been really fast and really slow.  I didn't want to get out too hard.  I tucked in and waited to see what happened.  I had my move in mind and wanted to go hard when I moved."

Curtis closed best for second in 13:39.88.

"I tried to stay with him when he first made his move," said Curtis.  "I was happy with second.  Frankly, Chris is running at a different level than the rest of us right now."

Korir claimed third in 13:40.47, while McDougal (13:41.03) kicked down Okello (13:41.08) and Mutanya (13:42.81) for third.

Sikes Run #2 Collegiate Time To Stop Kipyego's Historic Quest for Big 5

The women's 5000 featured Texas Tech's Sally Kipyego in quest of a 5000 outdoor crown to go with the cross country, indoor 3000 and 5000, and outdoor 10,000 titles she had already won this year.

Stanford's Teresa McWalters assumed the early pacemaking duties, taking the field through 5:01 at 1600m and 6:15 at 2000.  Kipyego, Wake Forest's Michelle Sikes, N.C. State's Julia Lucas, and Notre Dame's Molly Huddle followed close behind.  Sikes took the lead at 2800 meters and the race was on between the Rhodes Scholar and Kipyego.  The duo traded the lead repeatedly over the next mile, with Sikes leading at 3200 meters in 9:53 and Kipyego leading at 4000 in 12:19.  Surprisingly Sikes took the lead for good at the bell and simply ran away from the Kenyan star over the final 400 to win in a meet record and personal best 15:16.76.

"I just wanted an honest race, that's always the best kind" said Sikes.  "I tried to match every move.  That was a huge PR for me, 30-35 seconds."

Kipyego finished second in 15:24.22, just off the former meet record of 15:24.06 set by Lauren Fleshman in 2004.

"I didn't expect to run so fast," said Kipyego. "I was just trying to win.  I was sore going into the 5-k after my previous races.  She [Sikes] helped me run a good time."

Behind Sikes and Kipyego, Huddle closed best for third in 15:37.65 ahead of Lucas' 15:52.08, while Duke's Maddie McKeever smashed her previous best running 15:52.83 for fifth.

The 2007 NCAA outdoor championships conclude on Saturday.  Championship finals include the men's and women's 800 and 1500.



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