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LetsRun.com's Recap of Thursday's Round 1 of 1500s, Men's Steeple
by: LetsRun.com
July 3, 2008
*LRC Thursday Photos

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

We recap those races in this separate article.

Below we recap the first round of the men's and women's 1500 and the men's steeplechase. All the favorites advanced but we have interviews with some of the key players and blow by blow recaps.

Women's 1500 Quarterfinals: Favorites Advance
The first round of the 1,500 on both the men's and women's side was a joke because USATF inexplicably decided to only have 30 entrants. Thus instead of having three heats of 12 and cutting down from 36 to 24 in round one, we had three heats of 10 and cut down from 30 to 24. And in the case of the women's 1,500 where everyone in Eugene knew where that Julie Culley wouldn't be running, USATF still refused to replace her so only 29 started. So you have fans spend 30 minutes to watch 5 people be eliminated. Ridiculous. In the NBA, not many fans show up to watch the beginning of warmups. Apparently, track fans are expected to do that.

High Schooler Christine Babcock in the Lead

Overall there were no big surprises in the women's 1,500 as only 5 were eliminated and all four who have the Olympic A easily moved on.

Managing to advance were both high school entrants, Christine Babcock and Jordan Hasay. Used to leading in their high school races, neither was shy about taking the lead here as Babcock led the first heat through in 68.6 and Hasay took her heat out in 68.9 and maintained the lead through about 1200 meters, coming through in 3:40.5. The advancement formula was top 6 and next 6 times and both high schoolers finished in 7th but were easily able to make it to the semis based on time. Key players Sara Hall, Treniere Clement, Tiffany McWillians, Mary Jane Reeves, and Carrie Tollefson were among the others that advanced easily.


The fastest of the three heats, the biggest news in this race was NCAA star Brie Felnagle of UNC dropping out just past the 1200 meter mark. Christin Wurth looked to be on a mission, taking the lead at 600 in the first heat and cruising to victory in 4:13.40. Felnagle was distraught after the race and only briefly spoke to the press as it was clear she was going to break into tears. She said she was "tired." She looked fine through the first two laps (which were run in 68 pace) before fading through the pack and then dropping out with 280 to go. McWilliams, Reeves, Amy Mortimer and Morgan Uceny all went with Thomas on her decisive 65 second third lap and put themselves in position to easily advance to the final. Uceny was the only one that seemed to really shut it down in the last 100. Considering this was only the 7th 1,500 of her life, she was surprisingly savvy about knowing when to shut down to save energy for the next round.

High Schooler Christine Babcock

Heat  1 Preliminaries
1 Christin Wurth Nike 4:13.40Q
2 Tiffany McWilliams adidas 4:13.54Q
3 Mary Jayne Reeves Oregon Track Club 4:13.89Q
4 Amy Mortimer Reebok 4:14.06Q
5 Morgan Uceny Reebok 4:15.93Q
6 Miesha Marzell unattached 4:18.12Q
7 Christine Babcock unattached 4:18.32q
8 Anne Shadle Reebok 4:20.34q
-- Brianna Felnagle North Carolina DNF
-- Julie Culley New York A C DNS


Rowbury and Donohue


Shannon Rowbury ran a 45.4 final 300 to pull training-mate Erin Donohue to a 1-2 finish. As mentioned, Hasay led most of the way and fought back hard after the more experienced collegiate and professionals kicked by her.

We caught up with Donohue after the race and she gave a great interview as she had some harsh words for UNC continuing to employ self-admitted drug cheat Antonio Pettigrew: "It's not good for the sport. It's not good for our program to have people like that around."

She also admitted her talented team at North Carolina often underperformed in college. "I think it's a really cool thing to think how many talented people were on that team. We didn't always do great in college when we were all there together but now it's really cool that we've all continued running and continued to put in the work to get better and better".

As for the race, Donohue was also full of praise for the high schooler Hasay, saying she's got to "giver her a lot of credit" for not being scared of the competition. Donohue said that she and Rowbury "got through this round with as little as effort as possible."

Erin Donohue
On Antonio Pettigrew and Underperforming at Times in College

Heat 2 Preliminaries


1 Shannon Rowbury              Nike                   4:16.13Q
2 Erin Donohue Nike 4:16.84Q
3 Frances Koons Villanova 4:17.86Q
4 Lauren Hagans Baylor 4:17.94Q
5 Sara Hall Asics 4:18.00Q
6 Jenelle Deatherage Reebok 4:18.35Q
7 Jordan Hasay unattached 4:18.39q
8 Katherine Follett Washington 4:19.00q
9 Keri Bland West Virginia 4:19.30q
10 Amanda Bales New York A C 4:32.71


Lindsay Gallo ran a patient race to run to victory in the final heat, coming to the lead for the first-time in the final straight-away. Tollefson led early before giving way to Dacia Barr, who took the group through 800 at a pedestrian 2:19. Treniere Clement, the winner of USAs the last 3 years, took over at 1100 and looked better than she has in some of her other early-season races. We caught up with her after the race and she said she had been training through her early season races as she and coach JJ Clark were taking "a different approach" with her training this year and that she still feels "confident" about her prospects (interview below) Sarah Bowman was always in contention and looked like she may be a player in future rounds.

Treniere Clement Explains Her Subpart Start to the Season

Carrie Tollefson on Being Introduced as an NCAA Champ and not an Olympian

Heat  3 Preliminaries
1 Lindsey Gallo Reebok 4:17.01Q
2 Treniere Clement Nike 4:17.33Q
3 Sarah Bowman Tennessee 4:17.48Q
4 Carrie Tollefson adidas 4:17.68Q
5 Emily Anderson unattached 4:18.77Q
6 Michelle Turner Washington 4:18.79Q
7 Dacia Barr Arkansas 4:19.51q
8 Nikeya Green Reebok 4:22.95
9 Natalie Picchetti Georgia 4:23.40

10 Amanda Miller Washington 4:24.45

Men's 1500 Quarterfinals: Webb is Back? All the Favorites Advance
Lots of interesting sub-plots in the first round of the men's 1500 but the bottom-line was that all the key contenders advanced to the semi-finals.

Heat 1
Re-emerging from oblivion (again) back onto the national stage was Gabe Jennings, who brought back echoes of 2000 by patiently moving up the pack in the first heat, running splits of 63.5, 64.1, 56.5 and 40.2 to take first in his race, reaching the lead for the first time with 120 meters to go. Steve Sherer also looked very good. Early leader Jordan McNamara of Oregon got an early rise out of the crowd in leading the first two laps before fading to a DFL finish.

After the race, we had a nice interview with Jon Rankin who talked very honestly about his disappointing run in the first round of the 800 here, his race today and whether he is bothered by the fact that he isn't given the same type of attention as some of the big names in the 1,500. Rankin said he ran the 800 here thinking he could do well and maybe make some noise in the final. As for his where he stands in terms of 1,500 runners, Rankin admitted he's proven he can run fast but hasn't proven he can win the big races yet like some of his competitors. Listen to Rankin here:

Jon Rankin

Heat  1 Preliminaries
1 Gabriel Jennings Saucony 3:44.39Q
2 Steve Sherer unattached 3:44.71Q
3 Rob Myers Reebok 3:44.81Q
4 Jon Rankin Nike 3:44.91Q
5 Andrew Bumbalough Georgetown 3:45.49Q
6 James Hatch unattached 3:45.55Q
7 David Torrence unattached 3:45.89
8 Sam Burley Asics 3:46.30
9 Brendan O'Keefe ZAP Fitness 3:46.84
10 Jordan McNamara Oregon 3:49.61

Lomong and Manzano

Heat 2: Lomong Wags His Finger, Manzano a Pro
Lopez Lomong led early and then ceded control to Leo Manzano, who brought the field through in 2:03.8. Running 58.8 over the next circuit, the pace increased and one of the victims was AJ Acosta, who fell at 900 meters amid a tight pack furiously trying to keep up with the former Longhorn. Acosta, who perhaps was hurt, did not seem to make a hard effort to catch back up but he may have also learned his lesson from the women's 800 finals and assumed that because he fell that he'll be advanced to the semis anyway, so why work too hard? (Of course the odds of him catching Lomong and Manzano were virtually zero).

Up-front, Manzano closed hard in 40.6 but Lomong was a bit quicker, looking over at Manzano near the finish and excitedly clapping his hands before raising his right hand in a half #1 sign and a half "I'm pointing to the crowd" sign as he crossed the line with Manzano. (We must admit, Lomong's natural charisma is pretty good. We were irate earlier in the meet when others (Galen Rupp and Jenny Barringer) pulled similar antics but found his antics to be refreshing). After finishing, Lomong kept running off the track, making a bee-line for the exit gate, not slowing his stride at the finish, and looked like he will be a force to be reckoned with over the weekend.

*On the boards:

Manzano on Wearing
Blue instead of Burnt Orange

Leo Manzano #2
Brief Glimpse of The Nike Victories

Heat  2 Preliminaries
1 Lopez Lomong Nike 3:43.38Q
2 Leonel Manzano Nike 3:43.41Q
3 Russell Brown Stanford 3:43.79Q
4 William Leer Oregon TC Elite 3:43.79Q
5 Stephen Pifer Colorado 3:44.05Q
6 Jeff See Ohio State 3:44.06Q
7 David Krummenacker adidas 3:45.07q
8 Andrew McClary Arkansas 3:45.40q
9 Kyle King ZAP Fitness 3:45.63
10 Andrew Acosta Oregon 4:07.81

Alan Webb

Heat 3: Webb and Lagat Run 2 Very Different Races, but Both Impress
The final race of this round featured the two pre-eminent American milers, Bernard Lagat and Alan Webb. Much has been written and speculated regarding Webb's condition or lack thereof but based on his performance in round one, rumors of his demise may be greatly exaggerated as Webb looked super.

As usual Webb didn't want to run slow and was a bit antsy at the start. But nonetheless Webb looked fine, running just off the shoulder of Stanford's Garrett Heath in a surprisingly fast first 400 of 57.1 (Webb was 58.1) as the rest of the pack with Lagat in the back was content to run 20 meters behind. Things were more tightly bunched by 800, as Heath went through in 1:59.0 and the entire field ran together. Webb moved abreast of Heath at 1000 meters and took the lead for good at 1100 meters, before running a controlled 55.1 over the last lap to run clear of the field.

Meanwhile, at the bell, Lagat was still content to run patiently, unconcerned about being in last. Closing his last 300 in 40.3, Lagat looked capable of covering any move, and finished well within the top six to advance to the next round. Everyone in heat three advanced in what was the fastest race of the day.

Catching up with Webb after the race, it was clear that his performance in the first round tonight meant a lot to him. This wasn't a meaningless first round where only 6 guys were eliminated. Rather, it was a huge confidence booster for Webb who hasn't looked sharp in any race prior to tonight. "This is definitely the first time in my career where I've been really looking forward to rounds," said Webb after the race. Was it just us or did Webb have that confident gleam back in his eye? (video below)

Standing next to Webb in the interview area was Said Ahmed. With the commotion around Webb and no one paying attention to Ahmed, Ahmed remarked that he felt like a "statue". So we talked to him. Ahmed has been off everyone's radar this year but has opened up faster than ever before and reveals that he has been training in Kenya with teen 800 sensation Kaki.

With only six being eliminated in all three heats, the main news here was confirmation that Webb appears fine, the return of Gabe Jennings, and early evidence that the next two rounds, which will feature the likes of Lagat, Lomong, Lagat, Webb, Chris Lukezic among a host of other capable contenders, will be hot.

Alan Webb

Said Ahmed on Training with Kaki

1 Alan Webb                    Nike                   3:41.27Q
2 Said Ahmed Nike 3:41.92Q
3 Christopher Lukezic Reebok 3:42.10Q
4 Bernard Lagat Nike 3:42.11Q
5 Grant Robison Playmakers Racing 3:42.12Q
6 John Bolas unattached 3:42.16Q
7 John Jefferson Oregon TC Elite 3:42.48q
8 Shane Stroup unattached 3:43.02q
9 Matthew DeBole Georgetown 3:43.32q
10 Garrett Heath Stanford 3:43.90q

Chuck Noland

Men's Steeple Prelims: Favorites Advance, Fam Reappears

Heat 1
Anthony Famiglietti ran his own race from the gun and that meant a hard charging pace as after surging to a 63.9 opener, he clicked off 66 and 67 second circuits through the first five laps. Putting a big gap on the field, he was reeled back in with a lap to go but responding by throwing in a convincing surge to run a very fast 8:25.17, just off the Olympic A standard of 8:24.60.

A very good field had given chase to Famiglietti (this heat was clearly stronger on paper than heat 2) and the biggest news behind him was the fact that former US champ Steve Slattery did not automatically advance as he finished sixth in 8:30.49. Digging hard over the last two laps, Slattery did advance to the final in only his second steeple of 2008 as the top 6 in this heat advanced. Billy Nelson, the NCAA runner-up in June for Colorado, had a two second PR and looked great in round one.

We caught up with Slattery after the race before heat 2 had been run. He said that "he wanted to run 8:30" which he did but that "he should have run for top 4". He said his training with Terrence Mahon has "been good" and that he has gained a lot of confidence from the fact that Ryan Hall and Ian Dobson are running so well under Mahon's guidance. He also talks about why he switched groups and how it was hard at first because he and Dobson were hammering each other.

Steve Slattery on His New Training Group With Ian Dobson and Ryan Hall

Heat  1 Preliminaries
1 Anthony Famiglietti adidas 8:25.17Q
2 William Nelson Colorado 8:26.17Q
3 Joshua McAdams New Balance 8:26.47Q
4 Corey Nowitzke unattached 8:27.78Q
5 Daniel Huling Reebok 8:28.88q
6 Steve Slattery Nike 8:30.49q
7 Jacob Morse Texas 8:34.08q
8 Anderson Smith Reebok 8:35.67q
9 Kyle Heath Syracuse 8:39.51
10 Kevin Davis unattached 8:52.50
11 Luke Watson adidas 8:56.56
12 Jordan Fife Team Indiana Elite 9:00.59

OTC's Max King on Being Eliminated

Heat 2:
The pace was not as stiff in the second semi-final, with Brian Olinger setting the tempo, going through four laps in 4:28.2, a full four seconds behind Famiglietti's split in heat one. Michael Spence briefly took the lead at five and a half laps before Benjamin Bruce, the NACAC bronze medalist a year ago, took the lead for good with two laps to go. Jonathan Pierce appeared to be in the top four but fell on the final hurdle and did not advance. Olinger, despite fading over the last two laps, still earned the final spot in Saturday's final.


Heat  2 Preliminaries
  1 Benjamin Bruce               unattached             8:32.57Q
  2 Kyle Alcorn                  Arizona State          8:32.70Q
  3 Jordan Desilets              unattached             8:34.74Q
  4 Jacques Sallberg             Run With Us            8:34.83Q
  5 Michael Spence               IBR / Asics            8:34.84q
  6 Brian Olinger                Reebok                 8:35.89q
  7 Thomas Brooks                OTC/Nike               8:38.63
  8 Max King                     Oregon TC Elite        8:38.86
  9 Lyle Weese                   unattached             8:41.78
 10 Lucas Meyer                  Oregon TC Elite        8:46.53
 11 Jonathan Pierce              ZAP Fitness            9:00.88
 -- Aaron Aguayo                 Nike                       DNS


*More LRC Thursday Coverage   Anna Willard's American record in the 3k steeplechase, LaShawn Merritt remains undefeated over Jeremy Wariner in 2008


*More coverage at http://www.nbcolympics.com/trackandfield/index.html

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