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LetsRun.com's 2009 Final Day Women's Distance Coverage
by: LetsRun.com
June 28, 2009
*Final Day Photos

Women's Steeplechase: Barringer Dominates
Heading into the 2009 USATF outdoor track and field championships, one of the most anticipated matchups was the expected steeple duel between Anna Willard and Jenny Barringer. In the end, the duel ended up being a bit of a dud as Willard was a bit off her game.

During her third-place showing in the 1,500 yesterday, Willard looked a bit tired and afterwards she admitted as much. The question was, 'Would the fatigue carry over today?" The answer was clearly yes.

Barringer set an honest pace from the gun. Running very evenly, a series of 75- and 76-second laps started to take its toll on the field after three-and-a-half laps as Barringer started to pull away from the other runners. With three laps to go, the victor had been decided barring a disaster on a hurdle by Barringer.

Behind Barringer, the question was who would finish in second and third as Willard, Lindsey Anderson and Penn State's Bridget Franek were running together. It certainly wasn't a surprise to see Willard (former American record holder) or Anderson (2008 Olympian and 2007 World Championships team member) battling it out for a Berlin spot, but few could have expected the upstart Franek (only fourth at NCAAs) to be in contention with 800 to go.

Well in front in the lead, Barringer still kicked it in for the sub-9:30 clocking (9:29.38) and the win. And in the end, Willard and Franek clearly distanced themselves from Andersonn, as just before the last lap, Anderson started to fade. Willard finished 2nd (9:35.01) and Franek 3rd (9:36.74), well ahead of Anderson in 4th (9:44).

Post-Race Comments
Afterwards, Willard indicated her goal was not to win the race but to just make the Worlds team in her second event of the weekend. She acknowledged the double this weekend was harder than she expected but the plan was to still try to run both events at Worlds, where the schedule is more forgiving. She said in her mind, right now if she was going to give up an event at Worlds, it would be the steeplechase.

Barringer, who broke the mythical 4:00 barrier for 1,500m at Pre, is 100% focused on the steeple for Worlds. After her run at Pre, she and her coach Mark Wetmore discussed doing the 1,500m at Worlds, but decided to do the steeple, as that has been her focus all along and is what she is training for. She said despite the 3:59 clocking, "I don't do 1,500m workouts."

If you want to watch a really excited person who saw her dreams become reality today, we encourage you to watch the interview below with Bridget Franek. Only 4th at NCAAs in 9:48.57, Franek told us that goal coming in was to try and get the World Championships A standard of 9:40.00, which she incorrectly thought she had to have to any chance of going to Worlds. In reality, Franek would have been able to go to Worlds without the A, as she already had the B standard of 9:48.00, her PR being 9:43.67 prior to today. Nonetheless, she was rewarded with a nearly 7-second PR and ticket to Worlds.

While it certainly was a travesty that NCAA runner-up Nicole Bush was unable to run today's final after breaking her foot on a water jump that was set too high in the prelims, it is worth noting that Franek's performance was quite strong today. One can't just assume that Bush would have automatically made the team today as Franek's PR is now actually better than Bush's (9:39.38).

Anna Willard On Making 2 Teams And Her Summer

Bridget Franek - 4th At NCAAs, 3rd At USATFs

  1 Jennifer Barringer           Colorado               9:29.38
  2 Anna Willard                 Nike                   9:35.01
  3 Bridget Franek               Penn State             9:36.74
  4 Lindsey Anderson             Nike                   9:44.42
  5 Marie Lawrence               Washington             9:48.27
  6 Lisa Galaviz                 Nike                   9:52.60
  7 Lindsay Allen                McMillan Elite         9:55.26
  8 Amanda Lorenzen              unattached            10:00.42
  9 Delilah DiCrescenzo          Puma                  10:02.14
 10 Erin Bedell                  Baylor                10:08.80
 11 Kara June                    Asics Aggie           10:12.28
 12 Kristin Anderson             RIADHA                10:13.85
 13 Shauneen Garrahan            RIADHA                10:18.21
 -- Nicole Bush                  Michigan State             DNS
                        

Women's 800: Clark Gets Her Fifth USATF Title

Hazel Clark continued her family's fine 800m tradition with a tough wire-to-wire win in the women's 800 to capture her fifth USATF outdoor title.

Clark led from the gun in the windy Hayward field conditions. At the bell (59.42), everyone was close to her except for Prefontaine winner Maggie Vessey, who looked like she had missed the start. Vessey is known for her late charging style, but here she was over 3 seconds and more than 20 meters back (62.48).

Hazel still led at 600 (1:29.48) with two time defending NCAA champ Geena Gall and Tennessee's 20-year-old Phoebe Wright on her heels. Remarkably, Vessey (1:32.83) had fallen even farther behind and was still more than 20 meters back.

Clark maintained her form and her lead down the homestretch to get the win over Gall (2:00.79 to 2:01.12) and Wright held on for third in a tightly-contested race that saw third through six only separated by .2.

Honestly though, we had a tough time staying focused on what was happening up front as our eyes were glued to Vessey, who finally got it going in the final 200. Her charge from nowhere was unbelievably entertaining to watch. Vessey ran an incredible 28.37 final 200m, but it was just a little too late as she ended up fourth .07 behind Wright. You can watch the race video below, but Vessey is so far back you only see her for the final 20 meters.

A "Vessey cam" would have produced a ridiculous video. Regardless, you can talk about Vessey's tactics here.

Hazel Clark The Champ (1:27)

The consolation prize for Vessey was that only Clark has the World Champs "A" standard (2:00). The top 4 finishers are allowed to go and chase the standard. Vessey seems the most likely to break the 2-minute barrier (assuming she learns not to go out in over 62). If she is the only one to break it, she will also go to Worlds. If one of the other women breaks it, she will not go (1 "B" qualifier can go under the new rules).

Clark and Wright are both coached by Clark's brother, Tennessee coach JJ Clark, and Clark said she will try to help Wright break 2:00. Wright, only 20 years old, was fifth at NCAAs two weeks ago. But she set a PR in the semifinals here (2:02.11) and then improved nearly another full second on Sunday (2:01.12). If she or Gall can break 2:00, she'll be going to Worlds.

In the interview below, Clark talked about how this year her goal is a medal at the World Champs. Her early season performances were not great, but the plan was to train for Berlin and August all along.

*Lap-by-lap splits are here.

Finals                                                         
  1 Hazel Clark                  Nike                   2:00.79
  2 Geena Gall                   Oregon TC Elite        2:01.01
  3 Phoebe Wright                Tennessee              2:01.12
  4 Maggie Vessey                unattached             2:01.19
  5 Laura Hermanson              North Dakota State     2:01.28
  6 Morgan Uceny                 Reebok                 2:01.32
  7 Alysia Johnson               Nike                   2:01.58
  8 Katie Waits                  Reebok                 2:01.69
  9 Brenda Martinez              Cal Riverside          2:09.44
                                                                                                

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