US Men 10,000m Top 10 Rankings - 2009

Collegian Galen Rupp earns our #1 ranking in year where 4 American-born athletes run 27:39 or better.

December, 2009's year-end rankings evaluate the best United States runners in every event from 800m to marathon - easily the most interesting summary you will find anywhere in the media.

LRC #1 Galen Rupp · U. Of Oregon · 27:37.99 (US #3, '09) · PAC-10, NCAA, United States Champion · 8th Finisher, World Champs 10,000m

Video: Galen Rupp after becoming the first to complete the NCAA/USA 10,000m double.

In a careful selection, names Galen Rupp our USA 10,000m runner of the year ahead of US Distance Runner of the Year candidate Dathan Ritzenhein.

Rupp had a tremendous season at 10,000m. He won a thrilling 10,000m final at the NCAA championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas after absorbing blows from Aussie Shawn Forrest and Kenyan 10,000m NCAA record holder Sam Chelanga and shedding them with an amazing kick.

Rupp closed the final 1,200m in 3:01 after a wildly-paced race that included a first lap of 63 and a 22nd lap of 76 seconds (LRC recap, photos and videos).

The Oregon senior, coached by Alberto Salazar, had more - much more - in store two weeks later at the USATF Outdoor Championships 10,000m, where he ran 27:52 to claim his first open US title over Ritzenhein and 27:36 runner Tim Nelson. We went back to our recap of his USA title race and it reminded us just how well Rupp was running at that point in the year. Runners like Ritzenhein (who went on to run 12:56 for 5,000m and earn a WC bronze at the half marathon distance in '09) and eventual 2009 ING NYC Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi clearly knew who the boss was. It was collegian Galen Rupp.

From our recap:

Wearing the green and yellow uniform of Oregon for the last time on Thursday night, Rupp proved what many of us thought we knew coming into the race - he is by far and away the top 10,000m runner right now. It was only fitting that Rupp relied on his calling card in 2009, a lethal kick, to easily pull away from a surprising Dathan Ritzenhein over the final 500m and capture his first USATF National title.

The fact that Rupp used his kick (albeit over a tiring Ritzenhein) to get the win was appropriate as it shows just how much Rupp has transformed himself over the last 12 months. A year ago, Galen Rupp came into Eugene and the Olympic Trials as the Oregon and Alberto poster boy. Hopes were bright, and Galen did leave as a member of the 2008 US Olympic Team, but there were doubts as well. A year ago, Rupp  was viewed as someone who didn't have a kick and almost no one expected Rupp to win the US 10k title (just 3.4% picked him). Now his kick is lethal enough to outkick just about anyone but the very best milers and this year most expected him to win (68%) in a field that consisted of 10 sub-28:00 guys.

Last year, most fans left Hayward field wondering if the wonderkid would ever develop a kick to make him a winner in a major race? Now they don't ask that question unless they are talking about the Olympics or World Champs.

Rupp went to Berlin and had a bit of a downer race if we judge it on time and place. It's hard to believe we're writing that considering he still placed eighth and ran his seasonal best 27:37.99. The race in Berlin went out very quickly and an elite pack separated themselves trying to keep up with Eritrean hyper-motor Zersenay Tadese. Rupp - in a courageous performance not too many people noticed - made his own charge at the leaders, throwing down some 61- and 62-second laps to attempt to catch the pack. He paid for the effort and faded, but still held on better than the majority in the race to take 8th. The time and place weren't what he wanted, but the willingness to go for it at the crucial moment was very impressive.

We're simply blown away by what Rupp accomplished during his 2008-2009 collegiate and international seasons - winning NCAA titles in XC, indoor 5,000m, 3,000m and DMR and outdoor titles in the 5,000m and 10,000m. His NCAA/USATF 10,000m double was an American first. Additionally, we were very impressed that after he was the first non-African finisher at the Beijing Olympic 10,000m, Rupp decided to race aggressively in 2009 in Berlin, risking a big-time blowup.

Video: Ritzenhein after his spectacular WC performance.

LRC #2 Dathan Ritzenhein · Nike · 27:22.28 (US #1, '09) · 6th finisher, World Champs 10,000m · US Runner-Up

Dathan Ritzenhein made a huge step forward in terms of international competitiveness when he finished sixth at the IAAF World Championships 10,000m. Running 27:22.28 in a non-rabbited, warm weather global final, "Ritz" finished as the 14th-fastest human of 2009 at the distance. Back in June, he couldn't kick with Galen Rupp, but in Berlin he came through with a better performance than his now-teammate Rupp.

Many may say that Ritz deserves to be the #1, as he beat Rupp at Worlds and because Ritz ran an incredible 27:22 in the warm Berlin weather. While we actually think Ritz's 27:22 in the heat is a superior performance to Meb Keflezighi's American record of 27:13 (which was run in the great Stanford weather), we still don't think Ritz deserves the #1 ranking.

We say that because the fact of the matter is Ritz didn't get the AR in Berlin. The fact of the matter also is Ritz didn't go out with the big boys like Rupp and ran a more conservative race at Worlds. Yes, Ritz did finish higher than Rupp at Worlds, but does it really matter a great deal if one person was 6th and one person was 8th in a race where lots of Africans DNF once out of the medal hunt? We don't think it matters nearly as much as the fact that Rupp beat Ritz at USAs and that Rupp won two major titles - an NCAA and USA one - in 2009. At Worlds, despite the 15-second time gap, Rupp only finished two spots behind Ritz; therefore, Rupp is our #1.

LRC #3 Tim Nelson · Nike · 27:36.99 (US #2, '09) · 17th Finisher, World Champs 10,000m · 21st-Fastest 10,000m Performer In The World In '09 · 3rd Place, US Champs

Oregon TC member Tim Nelson shares our LRC Most Improved 10,000m runner of the year with LRC #7 Patrick Smyth thanks to taking his PR from 28:04 to 27:36 in one race. Nelson qualified to run at the IAAF World XC Championships by finishing 2nd at the USA XC Championships, but told USATF he wasn't going to Amman because he was going to try to qualify for the Berlin World Championships 10,000m. At the time we thought, "who does this guy think he is?" but Nelson showed us who he is when he won Stanford's Payton Jordan Invite in 27:36.99 (IAAF Worlds "A" qualifier) and finished a clear 3rd at USAs in 28:01. Congrats to Nelson to setting a goal and hitting it. In Berlin, Nelson finished 17th but as a consolation finished the year as the 21st-fastest 10,000m runner in the world.

USA 10,000m Championships Top 10 Results:

  1 Galen Rupp                   Oregon                27:52.53
  2 Dathan Ritzenhein            Nike                  27:58.59
  3 Tim Nelson                   Oregon TC Elite       28:01.34
  4 James Carney                 New Balance           28:13.37
  5 Edward Moran                 Nike                  28:34.54
  6 Meb Keflezighi               Nike                  28:35.49
  7 Patrick Smyth                unattached            28:35.70
  8 Abdi Abdirahman              Nike                  28:35.79
  9 Jorge Torres                 Reebok                28:42.13
 10 Forest Braden                Brooks ID / Brooks    28:43.98    

Olympics Day 10 - Athletics

Photo: Famiglietti leads the 2008 Beijing Olympic steeplechase final.

LRC #4 Anthony Famiglietti · Saucony · 27:39.68 (US #4, '09) · 28:15 Road 10k (2nd, US Road Champs)

A year after leading the Olympic steeplechase final in Beijing, Famiglietti probably ran more distance races in 2009 than any other elite. In his few stops at 10,000m, Fam ran a stellar 27:39 on the track and 28:15 on the roads at Peachtree. He did not run the 10,000 at the USA Champs (5,000 instead) but did earn 2nd at the US 10km road championships in Atlanta.

LRC #5 James Carney · New Balance · 28:13.37 (US #6, '09) · 4th Place, US 10,000m Champs · 3rd Place, US 10k Road Champs (28:19)

27:43 10,000m runner James Carney had another solid year at the distance, finishing a strong 4th at the USA 10,000m champs (well off of a Worlds spot and well ahead of 5th place) and 3rd at the road 10k champs at Peachtree. Carney didn't have a big-time rabbited race in 2009 to lower his 10,000m PR, but did perform very well at the US track and road championships. His 28:19 on the roads in Atlanta is especially impressive.

LRC #6 Abdi Abdirahman · Nike · 28:11 10k, Road (28:35 Track) · US Road 10k Champ · 8th, US 10,000m Track Champs

Abdi's 10,000m season on the track was nothing for him to write home about as he was just 8th in the US champs in his only track 10,000 finish. However, he ran 28:11 on the roads at Peachtree to win the US 10km Road Championship.

Cross Country: NCAA Championships

Photo: LRC 2009 10,000m USA Co-Most Improved Patrick Smyth running the 2008 NCAA XC Championships.

LRC #7 Patrick Smyth · Notre Dame · 28:25 · 4th, NCAA 10,000m (2nd American) · 7th, USA 10,000m Track Champs · 5th, US Road 10km Champs

In a dream season, Notre Dame senior Patrick Smyth lowered his 10,000m personal best from 29:14 to 28:25, finished as the 2nd American in the NCAA 10,000m final, 7th at USAs and 5th at the USA road 10km championships in Atlanta.

Others ran faster or finished ahead of Smyth at times in 2009, but given his body of work, he earned our #7 ranking.

LRC #8 Ed Moran · Nike · 28:34.54 · 5th, USA 10,000m Champs · 6th, USA 10km Road Champs

28-year-old William and Mary alum Ed Moran didn't have a stellar year given his 27:43 credentials, but had two nice finishes at the USA track and USA road championships to earn our #8 ranking for 2009. Moran finished 5th in Eugene at the 10,000m track championships (5th through 8th were less than 1.5 seconds apart) and followed that with a 6th place at Peachtree.

LRC #9 Meb Keflezighi · Nike · 28:35.49 · 6th, US 10,000m Track Champs

Meb hoped to qualify for the US 10,000m team in Berlin but could only manage a distant 6th-place finish in Eugene at the qualifier. His 28:35 seasonal best is far from his career best, but one can't help but think that perhaps missing Berlin was exactly what Meb needed to prepare perfectly for the ING NYC Marathon, where he became the first American winner since 1982.

LRC #10 Jorge Torres · Reebok · 28:16.81 · 9th, USA 10,000m Champs

Jorge Torres earned our final numeric ranking with a 28:16.81 win at the OTC Open and his 9th-place finish at USAs.

LRC Honorable Mention Fasil Bizuneh · 28:00.22 (US #5, '09)

Fasil ran the US #5 time on the year to place 10th in Berkeley in his only track 10,000 on the year. We didn't rank him in the top 10 as he didn't run the US champs.

LRC Honorable Mention Ed Torres · Reebok · 28:16.87 · 2nd To Jorge At OTC Open 10,000m

Boulder resident Ed Torres finished less than a second behind Jorge at the OTC open in 28:16.87. He was a DNF at the USA Champs, where his twin brother finished 9th.

NCAAs: Rupp Wins
Alberto In Straight Sets
LRC Galen Rupp Wins USATF 10k Title Galen Rupp made it look easy, easily pulling away from a surprising Dathan Ritzenhein over the last 500 to win his first USATF title in his last time in the Oregon Duck jersey. Along the way, Rupp dispatched a who's who of American distance running, as veterans Meb Keflezighi and Abdi Abdirahman tried to push Rupp. Rupp's win capped a great day for Alberto Salazar as in the women's 10k final, the Salazar-coached Amy Begley shocked Beijing Olympic medallist Shalane Flanagan in the 10k over the last 150m.

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Three LRC Men's 10k: A Day After Bolt's Electric 100m Run, Bekele Reminds Us He's Even More Dominant Than Bolt Kenenisa Bekele remained undefeated at the 10,000 meter distance for his life as he won in a
championship record 26:46 thanks to a 13:05 2nd 5k. Eritrean Zersenay Tadese got a well-deserved silver after he put on a spirited frontrunning effort that would have broken anyone on the planet but Bekele. American Dathan Ritzenhein ran the race of his pro career to move up to 6th in 27:22, as Galen Rupp faded to 8th and had to be helped from the track.


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