USATF Declarations: Wheating In 1,500 Only, Lagat Doing Double, The Rupp-Solinsky Rivalry

June 21, 2011

The declaration period closed for the USATF nationals last night at midnight and there are a few interesting developments.

First, the basics. Andrew Wheating is out of the 800 and running only the 1,500m. Seems like a good decision. The 800m is stacked with Nick Symmonds, Khadevis Robinson, Robby Andrews, Charles Jock and others.

Bernard Lagat, who is moving up to the 5,000m at the World Champs exclusively this year, is entered in the 1,500 and the 5,000m. While athletes can enter multiple events and not run them with no penalty, with the way the schedule is this year, there is no reason for Lagat to enter the 1,500m unless he is going to run it. The 1,500m semifinal is on Thursday. The 5,000m final is on Friday, and then the 1,500m final is on Saturday. Thumbs Up for Bernard taking on the best in the US for the sake of taking on the best in the US. Even with the men's 5,000m featuring two other sub-13:00 guys (Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp), Lagat does not appear worried about tiring himself out for the 5,000m final.

On the women's side, Jenny (Barringer) Simpson is entered in the 1,500m and the 5,000m. The women's schedule is the same as the men's, with the 1,500m semi on Thursday, the 5,000m final on Friday, and the 1,500m final on Saturday. The fact Simpson entered the 1,500m and declared would indicate that she plans to run it, since it comes first. The 5,000m could be a safety net in case the 1,500m semi does not go well or Simpson could attempt the Lagat double. Nonetheless, as expected, she is not running the steeplechase, where she was 5th at Worlds in 2009.

2010 NCAA stud Lisa Koll is injured and out of the 5,000 and 10,000m.

What I Really Want to Talk About Most: The Rupp - Solinsky Rivalry
And that leads us to what I want to talk about most - the men's 10,000m, where both Chris Solinsky and Galen Rupp are entered.

Big deal, you think. They are the two fastest Americans ever at 10,000, so they should run the 10,000 right? Not so fast. In this interview with Competitor Magazine, Solinsky says, "I want to win the 5,000m (at Worlds) this summer."

If Solinsky's focus is actually on the 5,000m, it would be very risky to run the 10,000m the night before (the 10,000m final is Thursday night at USATFs, the 5,000m final is Friday night), especially since he has had injury problems this spring. It seems to us if Solinsky wants to run the 5,000m at Worlds, most likely he would not run the 10,000m Thursday.

So that leaves a few possibilities: 1) Solinsky has changed his mind and wants to run the 10,000m at Worlds.
2) Solinsky ideally wants to run the 5,000m at Worlds, but there is no guarantee of making the 5,000m team (with sub-13:00 guys Bernard Lagat and Matt Tegenkamp running), so he is doing the 10,000-5,000m double here because making the team at 10,000m seems more certain and the 10,000m is first at USAs.

1 and 2 are perfectly plausible but are not what I want to focus on. Here is #3)
3) Solinsky is trying to get back at Alberto Salazar and Galen Rupp.

The Solinsky Interview

In my mind, the greatest thing to happen (off the track) at the Pre Classic was my interview with Solinsky after the meet (embedded on this page - I've got it queued to start at the relevant point). The race was billed as an American record attempt by Solinsky and Galen Rupp, and then after much fanfare, Galen Rupp was not on the starting line. After Chris dropped out, I asked Chris if he knew anything about Galen not running. Chris indicated Galen was in the athlete area underneath the stands where the athletes congregate before the race (we've subsequently learned Galen had his racing shoes with him) and Chris said, "I wouldn't be surprised if they (Galen Rupp and Alberto) run tomorrow (in the two mile) and it was a ploy."

It is hard to express how great Chris' one sentence was. Sure Chris was frustrated from dropping out, but in one sentence he let down his guard, and showed there is a rivalry at best, some animosity at worst, between the (coach Jerry) Schumacher-Solinsky camp and the Rupp- (coach Alberto) Salazar camp (According to Alberto Salazar, Rupp did not run because of allergy concerns). For our sport to be mainstream, it needs rivalries more than anything. A little animosity or tension between competitors is a good thing. What our sport usually has instead of mainstream coverage is athletes not talking to the press before races, and then answering the softball questions tossed their way by fans afterwards.

I wanted to highlight Chris' interview this week in anticipation of a possible Rupp-Solinsky 10,000m matchup. Now I realize that matchup may not materialize (if Solinsky only runs the 5,000m). would usually be the first to rip Solinsky if he entered the 10,000m three days in advance with no intention of running it (depriving a well deserving athlete of the chance to run). However, if that is what happens and Chris only did it to get back at Alberto and Galen for warming up but not running the 10,000m in Eugene, then great. Let the war begin.

Hopefully instead we get the matchup I really want between Solinsky and Rupp at 10,000m. If that happens, just realize there is some animosity between these groups and both groups want the title and the American 10,000m record badly.

*USATF Schedule *USATF Entries

USATF 10k On The Boards: *Who Will Lead The USATF 10,000?
*Men's USATF 10,000M - Rupp over Solinsky, but who gets 3rd?


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