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LetsRun.com's Recap of Thursday's Action at the 2008 Olympic Trials: Anna Willard Breaks American Record in Steeple, LaShawn Merritt over Jeremy Wariner
by: LetsRun.com
July 3, 2008
*LRC Thursday Photos

Thursday's action was highlighted by Anna Willard's Americna record in the 3k steeplechase, and LaShawn Merritt remaining undefeated over Jeremy Wariner over 400m this year.

We recap those races below. We recap the first round of the men's and women's 1500 and the men's steeple here.

Women's 400 Final:  Sanya Richards Show
In the final it was clear that Sanya Richards learned a big lesson from last year when she went out too fast, tied up and didn't make the world championships team. Thursday, she floated through the first 200 meters and then exploded coming into the middle of the final turn, running all the way through the line for the first time at this meet. And the result was a dominating win, nearly a full second in front of runner-up Mary Wineberg. And the funny thing is the margin of victory might have been much larger had Richards been willing to take more of a risk.

Wineberg made the World Championship squad last year but this is her first Olympic team. Richards ran 49.89, the third best time in the world this year and the second best by an American (Allyson Felix, who attempted to make the team in the 100 instead of the 400 and will seek an Olympic berth and Olympic gold in the 200, ran 49.83 back in early May). Dee Dee Trotter, a member of the 4X400 relay that won gold at the 2007 World Championships, ran a good final 100 meters in lane 7 to earn the final spot on the U.S. team to Beijing, edging out Monique Henderson by only .10, to earn her second straight spot on the Olympic Team.

1 Sanya Richards Nike 49.89
2 Mary Wineberg Nike 50.85
3 Dee Dee Trotter adidas 50.88
4 Monique Henderson Reebok 50.98
5 Natasha Hastings Nike 51.13
6 Ebonie Floyd Nike 51.26
7 Monica Hargrove unattached 51.94
8 Debbie Dunn unattached 52.41

Merritt Ahead of Wariner

Men's 400: Merritt 2, Wariner 0
Defending World and Olympic Champion Jeremy Wariner seemed to be measuring LaShawn Merritt in the first half of the race, but if he was waiting, he waited too long. Or, given how fast the race was, perhaps he simply didn't have the gear to catch Merritt. Either way, perhaps Wariner needs to give Coach Clyde Hart a call...he may need to give his former coach a pay raise after all if he hopes to repeat at the Olympic Games. The final 100 meters is Wariner's bread and butter, but Merritt was able to maintain his lead from 300 meters on in.

Wariner was digging for all his worth, but a smiling Merritt was the champion this day. Wariner didn't handle the loss very well as he skipped the customary victory lap as well as the customary post-race press conference. Wariner's agent Michael Johnson must have talked some sense into Wariner as later Wariner showed up and talked to the media but we think not taking the victory lap and not sitting next to the man who won the title at the press conference is very bush league.

David Neville
, the 9th seed coming into the meet, qualified for the team as the third finisher. He was a member of the Indoor World Championship team this year and ran a PR to upset some big names to make the Olympic squad, including 4X400 World and Olympic gold medallist Darold Williamson. We saw Neville celebrating his 3rd place finish after the race in very low key fashion with a pizza and soft drink at Track Town Pizza after the race. Neville certainly didn't big-time anyone as he waited for a seat to open up. In our minds, it should be a rule at Track Town pizza, if an Olympian comes in, they get a seat - at least on the day they make the team.

Reggie Witherspoon
was in the dreaded fourth position, missing the team by .40 but had a good meet, setting a PR of 44.99 in the semis and just missing that with a 45.01 in the finals. We guess the certain gold he'll get on the 4 x 400 is a decent consolation prize.

Jeremy Wariner Talks About Finishing 2nd and The Coaching Change (2:47)

LaShawn Merritt (Merritt Said Alan Webb a Fellow Virginia Told Him to Run Through the Line)

1 LaShawn Merritt Nike 44.00
2 Jeremy Wariner adidas 44.20
3 David Neville Nike 44.61
4 Reggie Witherspoon Nike 45.01
5 Calvin Smith Florida 45.57
6 Darold Williamson Nike 45.58
7 Greg Nixon Asics 45.64
8 Lionel Larry U S C 45.82


American Record for Willard

America's First Female Olympic Steeple Team

steeple photos  via photorun.net

Women's Steeple Final: Anna Willard Dominates and Sets American Record
Coming into the race, most people viewed this race as the rubber match between Anna Willard and Jenny Barringer as the duo had split a pair of compelling duels in 2007. Willard won round one in taking the 2007 NCAA title (but Jennifer Barringer lost her shoe and finished sixth) while Barringer won round 2 by taking the USATF final in '07, although Willard badly jammed her ankle during the race.

The rubber match did not disappoint although in the end Lindsey Anderson unexpectedly spoiled the party a bit. In the end, Anna Willard ran an American record 9:27.59 and was extremely impressive over the last two laps as she moved away convincingly from rivals Jennifer Barringer and Lindsey Anderson who finished 3rd and 2nd respectively.

With both Willard and Barringer apparently healthy, this was a great show-down. And with 2007 World Championship competitor Anderson in the field, not to mention American Record holder Lisa Galaviz this was a great race. It was clear that Galaviz's record was in jeopardy from the gun as Barringer immediately jumped to the lead, with Willard right in tow. Willard had led heat one for most of the way and this time Barringer returned the favor, going out in a very fast 71.4 and going through 4 laps in 5:00.8 (as compared to a 5:14 1st round).

Barringer ran tough but Willard was clearly within herself. A group of five that included Barringer, Willard, Nicole Bush, Carrie Messner-Vickers and Anderson were together through five laps with Galaviz about 15 meters behind but the trio of Barringer, Willard and Anderson were well clear with two laps to go. The Olympic team seemed set, the only question was who was going to come out on top in the race? Willard moved to the lead with a lap and a half remaining and was very strong in closing in 71.1 to set a new American record and the 11th best time in the world this year. Anderson overtook Barringer for second and ran the #4 all-time performance by an American. Bush finished seven seconds back of Barringer in fourth while Galaviz rallied for fifth. Delilah DiCrescenzo, of "Hey There Delilah" fame, was in the lead group through two laps before fading and ultimately finishing 14th.

We've got an interview with Willard below. She said she knew she could run 9:28 or better before the meet and that is what she did. Willard did leave with the American record, but Barringer's reaction to finishing third showed that at the Trials third is almost as good as first. She said of making her first Olympic team, "I'm not going to sleep tonight, because I'm worried I'll wake up and it won't have really happened. With about 800 meters left I got really nervous and overwhelmed, because the crowd was so into it. It almost made it harder. I kept trying to tell myself it's just another race, it's not the Olympic Trials, but it is the Olympic Trials and it means so much." Interviews with Willard and Bush below.

1 Anna Willard Nike 9:27.59AR
2 Lindsey Anderson Nike 9:30.75T
3 Jennifer Barringer Colorado 9:33.11T
4 Nicole Bush Michigan State 9:40.27S
5 Lisa Galaviz Nike 9:48.27S
6 Kara June Asics Aggie 9:49.56
7 Amanda Lorenzen Team Indiana Elite 9:49.74
8 Carrie Messner-Vickers Asics 9:49.93
9 Carrie Strickland Bowerman A C 9:53.67
10 Ann Gaffigan New Balance 9:54.93
11 Kristin Anderson Nike 10:00.24
12 Sariah Long unattached 10:00.62
13 Lesley Higgins New York A C 10:04.04
14 Delilah DiCrescenzo Riadha/Puma 10:04.70

Ana Willard New American Record

Nicole Bush

*More Thursday Coverage *First round of the men's and women's 1500 and the men's steeple here High Schoolers Impress, Webb over Lagat
*More coverage at

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