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Day 2 Recap of 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships

by Mike Scott
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly. Used with permission.

Sacramento, Calif. (07-Jun) -- Texas Tech's Sally Kipyego won the

women's 10,000 meters as expected on the second day of the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships at Sacramento Hornet Stadium, but Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Shadrack Songok upset favored Galen Rupp in the men's 10,000.

Fans eagerly anticipated the men's 10,000. Rupp, a junior at the University of Oregon, had lowered the collegiate 10,000 meter record to 27:33.48 in late April a week after defeating Wisconsin's defending 5000 champ Chris Solinsky at that distance, giving credence to those who had already awarded him the mantle of "America's Next Great Distance Runner."

Challenging Rupp were BYU's Josh Rohatinsky, the reigning NCAA harrier champ, Josh McDougal, who led the nation at 5000 with a 13:20.43 and showed 3:57 mile speed as well as 28:27.65 10k this spring, Wisconsin's Tim Nelson (28: 04.46 '07), UTEP's Stephen Samoei (28:07.65 '07), and Songok, who brought with him a 28:16.47 PB.

Despite the august credentials of this field, the early pace was quite pedestrian with New Mexico's Jeremy Johnson and UTEP's Japeth Ng'ojoy leading the tightly bunched field through early splits of 4:37 for the mile, 8: 48.74 at 3000, and 14:45.12 at 5000.  Rohatinsky and Songok sat right behind the leaders, while Rupp appeared content to run on the inside back in eighth or tenth and McDougal running off his shoulder.

Songok took over pacemaking duties just after the midpoint but the tempo remained relatively calm with all major players still in contention at 8k (passed in 23:37).

Rupp moved up to Songok's shoulder with a mile remaining, then surged into the lead along the back stretch with 1000 to go (9k split 26:23.87) with McDougal, Songok, Wisconsin's Nelson, and LaSalle's Sean Quigley all in full chase.  Rupp continued to lead through the bell, with McDougal and Songok right on his shoulder.

Coming off the final turn, Songok launched a furious sprint to edge past and away from Rupp along the homestretch to win in 28:55.83, recording a 58.2 final circuit of the track.

"I've been preparing for this since indoors," said Songok, who earned Texas A&M Corpus Christi the school's first ever NCAA championship in any sport.  "I've been building my kick all along this spring, but I did know everybody else had a good kick."

Rupp was just behind in 28:56.19 for his second NCAA runner-up honors to go along with the silver he earned in 2005.

"The plan was to sit back along the rail and relax," said Rupp.  "With three laps to go, I wanted to really press the pace.  I give him [Songok] credit – he finished strong and also led a majority of the race so he did his share."

McDougal claimed third in 28:58.28, while LaSalle's Quigley finished fourth and Wisconsin's Nelson fifth in 28:59.29 and 29:00.75 respectively.

Little Drama as Kipyego Claims Fourth Title of the Year

The women's 10,000 lacked much of the drama of the men's 10,000.  Texas Tech's Kipyego ran away from the rest of the country at last fall's NCAA cross country championships, then dominated the 3000 and 5000 at the NCAA indoor championships.  Earlier this spring, the native of Marakwet, Kenya shattered the collegiate 10,000 record to lower it to 31: 56.72.

Since Kipyego is also entered in the 5000 meters at this championship in her bid to become the first ever to win the five longest NCAA titles in one academic year, she was content to allow others to do the work during the early stages of the race.

Arizona State's Amy Hastings, who entered the meet with the second fastest mark -- 32:30.37 -- was content to lead for over half the race, passing the mile in 5:33 and the 5000 in 16:51.  Kipyego ran comfortably on her shoulder, while Georgetown's Melissa Grelli, Providence's Aine Hoban, BYU's Whitney McDonald, Iowa's Diane Nukuri, and UCSB's Stephanie Rothstein maintained contact.

The only "excitement" during the early stages of the race came when Providence's Hoban took a tumble along the backstretch just after 6k.  Hoban quickly regained her feet and quickly worked her way back into the pack.

With just over 6 laps remaining, Kipyego asserted herself and quickly opened up a small but clear lead over the chase pack of Grelli, Hoban, and Hastings.

Kipyego appeared to be watching the video feed on the stadium's "jumbotron" scoreboard each lap to carefully gauge her effort so that she could conserve energy for Friday's 5000 final, actions which she confirmed after the race.
"I watched the big screen," said Kipyego.  "I know I still have the 5000 tomorrow so I didn't want to use up all my energy."

Kipyego cruised home to win in 32:55.71.

Behind her, Grelli finished strongest to earn runner up honors in 33: 01.56, with Hoban claiming bronze in 33:04.32 and Hastings fourth in 33:08.27.

In Thursday's qualifying action, yearly leader Katie Erdman (Michigan) led much of the first 800 meter semi to win in 2:03.60 with Cornell's Morgan Uceny (2: 03.74) and Oregon's defending outdoor champion Rebekah Noble (2:04.02) claiming the next two automatic qualifying positions.  Cal's Alysia Johnson, the reigning NCAA indoor champion, and Minnesota's Heather Dorniden, the 2006 indoor champion, claimed the top two places in the second heat with times of 2: 02.73 and 2:03.13 respectively.

Favorites Andrew Ellerton (Michigan), the yearly leader, and Ryan Brown (Washington), the 2006 outdoor and 2007 indoor champ, cruised through their 800 semifinal today.  Brown sat in the back of the pack, then moved up over the final 200 to claim third in 1: 48.41 behind Southern California's Duane Solomon (1:47.76) and Mississippi State's Golden Coachman (1:47.89).  Ellerton also used a strong final lap to secure the second auto qualifying spot in 1:48.65 behind UTEP's Elias Koech's 1: 48.64.

UNC's Brie Felnagle, the collegiate leader, won the first heat of the women's 1500 meters in 4:19.86 over Michigan's Nicole Edwards (4:20.09), Tennessee's Sarah Bowman (4:20.25), and Villanova's Akilah Vargas (4: 20.57).  Florida State's Susan Kuijken lowered her seasonal best by over six seconds to win the second heat in 4:15.68 ahead of an apparently relaxed Arianna Lambie (Stanford), who finished a stride behind in 4:16.04 with Arkansas' Dacia Barr claiming third and Oral Roberts' Mable Kunihira fourth in 4: 17.20 and 4:17.78 respectively.

Northern Arizona's Lopez Lomong, the indoor 3000 champion, won the first heat of the men's 1500 prelims in 3:42.00, well ahead of Stanford's Garrett Heath (3:44.30), Rice's Pablo Solares (3: 44.42), and Providence's Max Smith (3:44.54).  The loaded second section was won by defending champion Vincent Rono (South Alabama) in 3:41.77, with Stanford's Russell Brown (3:42.01) -- the indoor mile runner-up -- second, 2005 NCAA champ Leonel Manzano (Texas; 3: 42.13) -- the indoor mile champ -- third, and Colorado's Stephen Pfifer (3:42.29) -- third in the indoor mile -- fourth.

Friday's championship activity features finals in the men's and women's steeplechase as well as the men's and women's 5000-meters.


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