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BEGLEY AND RUPP GET TO DRAMATIC USA 10,000M VICTORIES
By David Monti
(c) 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

EUGENE (25-Jun) -- A terrific evening of middle and long distance running on the first day of the USA Outdoor Championships here was capped by emotional victories at 10,000m by Olympians Amy Begley and Galen Rupp.  Both runs were historic: Begley broke the stadium record for the distance while Rupp became the first man ever to win the NCAA and USA 10,000m titles in the same year.

"It was unbelievable to do it in a Duck uniform," said a teary-eyed Rupp who ran his last race wearing the colors of the University of Oregon.  "I'll remember it for the rest of my life.  It was just magical."

Rupp had the easier time of the two champions.  In an uneven race where Abdi Abdirahman did most of the early leading, Rupp and two-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein followed a mid-race move by James Carney and broke clear of the field.

"I told James, 'let's keep it going,'" Ritzenhein said after the race.

Carney eventually faded (he would finish fourth), and while Tim Nelson watched from a small distance back, Rupp stayed glued to Ritzenhein until 500 meters to go when he made a strong move for victory.

"I was just trying to stay relaxed," said Rupp.  "When it was time to go, I went.  No doubt about it."

Rupp quickly put 20 meters on Ritzenhein who, after running the Flora London Marathon last April, hadn't done much speed work.

"I could tell on the last lap I hadn't done the 10-K workouts," said Ritzenhein.  "I just tried to work as hard as I could."

Rupp crossed himself as he came out of the final turn, then started pumping his right fist and acknowledged the cheers of the University of Oregon crowd.  He hit the finish in 27:52.53, comfortably ahead of Ritzenhein (27:58.59) and Nelson (28:01.34).  Under the USATF qualifying scheme, all three athletes selected themselves for the USA team for The IAAF World Championships.  Both Rupp and Nelson had the "A" standard of 27:47.00 coming into the race, and since the IAAF rules allow for two "A" standard athletes and one "B" athlete, Ritzenhein is also in.

For Begley, the reigning USA indoor 3000m champion who refers to herself as a "grinder," she had the unusual experience of winning with her sprint.  In a plan hatched before the race, she and Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan had agreed to trade the lead at least through 5 km, making sure the pace stayed honest.  They shared their plan with Katie McGregor who tethered herself to the two women and stayed with them through 5 km (15:51.29) and 6 km (19:01.20).

"I just decided to ride the wave as long as I can," said McGregor.

McGregor fell back in the seventh kilometer, which went down in three minutes and four seconds, leaving Begley and Flanagan to fight it out for the win.  It would come down to the bell lap, and Begley surprisingly turned in the faster circuit: 67.19 seconds to Flanagan's 67.72.  Begley credited coach Alberto Salazar for helping her improve her speed.

"I learned to sprint this year," said the former Arkansas Razorback who almost quit the sport out of frustration two years ago.  "It's definitely been a good year for my speed."

Begley's 31:22.69 broke Flanagan's Hayward Field record of 31:34.81 set at last year's Olympic Trials.  Flanagan, who lost half a step trying to get around a lapped runner in the final 100 meters, said she just didn't have the zip in her legs to outsprint Begley.  She did most of her preparations for this meet at altitude in Flagstaff, Ariz., which sometimes reduces leg speed.

"I felt her surge back on me and I tied up," said Flanagan who ran 31:23.43 for second place.

McGregor hung on for third and also qualified for the USA team for Berlin.  Her time of 32:08.04 was well under the IAAF "B" standard of 32:20.00.


WEBB ADVANCES IN CHAOTIC 1500M QUALIFYING
A staggering 48 men lined up for four heats of the men's 1500m, and when the dust had settled only a dozen had made it to Sunday's final.  Only the first two finishers of each heat advanced automatically, and with a huge push to the line in the third heat, Alan Webb managed to be one of them, just passing David Torrence in the final few meters.

"I just didn't want to leave it for time to make it to the final," said Webb, who clocked 3:42.35.  He said that "instinct" had taken over allowing him to dig deep and pass Torrence.

Beijing Olympians Leonel Manzano and Lopez Lomong advanced by wining their heats, as did Will Leer and Dorian Ulrey.

All of the favorites advanced in the women's 1500m, led by Christin Wurth-Thomas's 4:11.84.  Wurth-Thomas's Beijing Olympic teammates Shannon Rowbury and Erin Donohue also advanced, as did steeplechaser Anna Willard who is doubling in this meet.  Willard finished third in her heat behind Wurth-Thomas and Tennessee's Sarah Bowman with a well-controlled 66.2 second final lap.

"It's not supposed to be hard," said Willard as she strode through the mixed zone.


ONE AND DONE IN 800M FOR LAGAT

While Beijing Olympians Christian Smith, Khadevis Robinson and Nick Symmonds  (LRC note: Khadevis Robinson was not a 2008 Olympian) posted the fastest three times in 800m qualifying, Bernard Lagat also advanced to the semi-finals by finishing third in the first heat.  But the reigning world champion in the 1500m and 5000m was only using his 800m appearance to sharpen his racing form and to fulfill a USATF requirement that he run in this national championship in order to use his bye into the world meet as a reigning champion.  He was hoping for a fast time, but ran a middling 1:48.59.

"You know, it's hard to run 800m," said Lagat.  He added: "This is it for me.  I'm done.  I'm going to pack now."

There were no surprises in the women's two-lap prelims.  Favorites Hazel Clark, Latavia Thomas, Katie Waits, Geena Gall, and Alysia Johnson all advanced to the semi-finals.


HULING LEADS STEEPLECHASE QUALIFIERS

Daniel Huling led all men's steeplechase qualifiers with his 8:34.13 victory in the second heat, just ahead of Reebok teammate Brian Olinger (8:34.85).  Beijing Olympians Billy Nelson and Josh McAdams also advanced, as did a resurgent Aaron Aguayo.  Veteran Steve Slattery had a tough day, finishing last in his heat in 9:34.00.


MEET CONTINUES TOMORROW

The highlight of the middle and long distance events on tomorrow's program will be the men's and women's 5000m finals.  Reigning champion Kara Goucher will be in action on the women's side, and Matt Tegenkamp and Anthony Famiglietti will be clashing in the men's race.

ENDS

 

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