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LetsRun.com's Women's 1500 Final Preview - 2008 US Olympic Track & Field Trials
Sunday's women's 1500 promises to be another exciting battle, with four women who already have the Olympic A standard of 4:07.00 and a handful of others who are capable of dipping under that time and perhaps fighting for a spot in the top three on the U.S. team. We'll break down the field, first looking at those finalists with the A standard as well as some others who figure to be key players.
Those with the A standard:
Shannon Rowbury - The 2007 NCAA indoor mile champion while at Duke, Rowbury has returned dramatically from a stress fracture that prematurely ended her career as a Blue Devil with a breakthrough 2008 campaign. Ably coached by Kevin Jermyn in college, she now works with John Cook and has dropped her 1500 time to a U.S. leading (and third best in the world) 4:01.61. She ran that time in winning the Adidas meet in Carson, CA in mid-May. She has looked terrific in winning both her 1500 heats and has the closing speed to run with everyone in the race. Based on her early season performances and form from the first two rounds, she is the favorite.
Christin Wurth - The Arkansas alum has also had a great 2008 campaign. She had a very good indoor season, running a mile PR of 4:27.18 to win the Tyson Invitational and ran a PR 4:04.88 to finish third in the Prefontaine 1500. Second at the USATF meet in 2007 to Treniere Clement, Wurth has not been afraid to set the pace in each of her first two rounds. She seems to favor a hard early pace and don't be surprised to see her do the same in Sunday's final to take the sting out of the kick of her competitors.
Erin Donohue - One of the toughest competitors in the field, the New Jersey native and UNC All-American had a great 2007 season, making the World Championship squad in this event with a third place finish at the USATF meet and also running an impressive 800 PR of 2:01.12. She has continued to look strong in 2008 and seemed to be well within herself in following training partner Rowbury across the line in the first heat and looked strong in her semi-final heat as well.
Treniere Clement - Clement is the three-time defending U.S. champion, an accomplishment that would usually stamp someone as a clear favorite for Beijing. But the Georgetown alum (now training with J.J. Clark in Tennessee the past three years) has had an uneven 2008 season. She has the best 800 PR among the top contenders (1:59.15) and ran 4:03.32 back in 2006 but her best performances this season are 2:03.91 and 4:11.87. She should in no way be counted out, but didn't look as sharp as the others with the A standard in the first two rounds. Making the team here would prove Clement's grit as she hasn't quite been at her best this season.
Others to keep an eye on:
Lindsay Gallo - The runner-up to Clement in 2006, Gallo has a PR of 4:05.75 from 2005 and was consistent, national caliber runner throughout her career at Michigan. A very good competitor, she has a seasonal best of 4:07.26 and has won both her preliminary races at these Trials. She's set an 800 PR this year and seems to be peaking at the right time.
Amy Mortimer - Mortimer's PR of 4:06.55 from 2006 indicates she is capable of hitting the A standard and she looked very capable in the first two rounds, unafraid to mix things up at the front of her races. With a seasonal best of 4:07.62, she's knocking on the door of the A standard and if it is a fast race, she certainly has the strength (as a 8:59 3K runner and 15:44 5K performer) to hang with the pace. 9th in the 1500 at the 2004 Olympic Trials, Mortimer figures to place higher this time around.
Tiffany McWilliams - McWilliams burst onto the scene in winning the 2003 NCAA Championships and repeated in 2004 but she has yet to duplicate that success on the pro circuit. A gifted runner, she made the indoor world championships squad in 2006 and is never afraid to push the pace. In this field of runners, her inability (from what we've seen in past big races) to shift gears and kick with the likes of Rowbury, Wurth, Donohue and Clement may keep her off the team. Although she doesn't have the A standard, her 4:06.30 from 2006 indicates that she is capable.
Sara Hall - Husband Ryan Hall has already made the U.S. team in the marathon and she'll be attempting to join him in the 1500. The Stanford alum has been quiet in the first two heats, content to do just enough to advance but she has the resume to be considered a contender. She's 4:08.99 and 8:56.93 for 3K, not to mention 15:20.88 for 5K in her career and has made world indoor teams at 3K as well as the world cross country team. She has great range but the 1500 may be a bit quick for her. Still, she's always been a tough competitor and shouldn't be ruled out.
Morgan Uceny - The only woman in the 1500 final to also contest the 800 final, this will be Uceny's sixth race of the trials. Interestingly, the Cornell All-American has only run eight 1500 races in her career, with two of them coming in the first two rounds at the U.S. Trials. She has run 2:01.75 for 800 and her PR is 4:12.11 but she seems ready to run faster...she trains with Lindsay Gallo and Anna Willard (both of whom have run under 4:07) and Uceny has looked very smooth in the first two rounds.
Jordan Hasay - Although a long-shot to make the team, phenom Hasay is sure to be a crowd favorite. The rising high school senior set a national high school record (and #5 all-time American junior performance) of 4:14.50 in the semis, coming on strong to the roar of the crowd to earn a well-deserved spot in the final. Hasay has already made the U.S. junior team for 1500 and plans to contest that at World Juniors later this summer. The 16 year old is a past Footlocker National cross country champ and her performances have brought back memories of a teen-age Mary Decker electrifying the Hayward Field crowd back in the 1970s. She is one of the most exciting female running talents to emerge in the U.S. in years.
This race will be interesting as there are a ton of people without the A that are capable of hitting it. We're sure they hope is the pace starts at 64-5 and then that Rowbury gets antsy and takes off around 800. One of the people without the A could pull an upset but on paper, without a doubt the race should go as follows:
1. Shannon Rowbury
2. Christin Wurth
3. Erin Donohue
But the difference between the 'on paper' and the actuality are what make the Trials great.