LetsRun.com's Recap Of Day 4 Of The 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships
June 11, 2011
The 2011 edition of the NCAA men's and women's track and field championships came to a close on Saturday with some truly sensational action.
In non-distance action, Texas A&M took advantage of miscues by the Oregon women and Florida men to 3-peat on the both girls and boys side. In terms of non-distance action, the men's triple jumpers got a standing ovation as Christian Taylor and Will Claye waged an epic battle that saw Claye jump 57'9.75" and lose, there was a 19.99w in the 200, and Jessica Beard had the fastest split in NCAA women's history (49.14).
But we know the LRC nation cares most about the mid-d and distance action, where Matt Centrowitz blitzed a 53.38 last 400 to win the 1,500 over Dorian Ulrey before celebrating with a throat slit, Sheila Reid reigned supreme again over Jordan Hasay, who struggled home 8th, Emma Coburn came through as expected, and then Sammy Chelanga proved the doubters (including us) wrong with a sensational victory in the 5,000 to cap a magnificent career with style.
Below we recap all of the mid-d and distance action for you in the order that it happened on Saturday in Des Moines.
Women's 1,500: Reid
Vs. Hasay Round 2 Becomes First Woman To Complete 1,500/5,000 Double
Women's 1500 Results 1 527 Sheila Reid JR Villanova 4:14.57 10 2 430 Lucy Van Dalen JR Stony Brook 4:15.33 8 3 121 Kate Van Buskirk SR Duke 4:15.37 6 4 159 Renee Tomlin SR Georgetown 4:16.17 5 5 350 Becca Friday SO Oregon 4:16.76 4 6 144 Hannah Brooks SR Florida State 4:16.81 3 7 530 Morgane Gay JR Virginia 4:17.40 2 8 354 Jordan Hasay SO Oregon 4:17.67 1 9 393 Lea Wallace SR Sacramento St. 4:18.73 10 136 Cory McGee FR Florida 4:19.18 11 44 Kristen Gillespie JR Arkansas 4:21.75 12 449 Brittany Sheffey JR Tennessee 4:22.50
Villanova's Sheila Reid became an NCAA legend on Saturday when she convincingly pulled away from the field over the last 200 meters to become the first woman to win both the 1,500 and 5,000 in the 30 editions of the women's NCAA championships.
Virginia's Morgane Gay was up front for the first 2.75 laps, hitting 300 in 51, 700 in 2:04 (72.27), and 1,100 in 3:11 (67.51). At the bell, Gay led and was followed by Oregon's Jordan Hasay and then Reid. Would Hasay be able to avenge the defeat Reid put on her on Friday night in the women's 5,000 just like she avenged a loss indoors in the distance medley relay by winning the 3,000 at NCAAs?
Anyone who has watched Hasay compete in recent years knew she'd certainly give it her best shot and when she went to the lead with roughly 220 meters to go, it looked like the Oregon sophomore was going to make expected battle a reality. However, Reid was lurking and she'd find an opening on the inside and pass on the rail just before the runners entered the final turn. Hasay had no response and would fade all the way back to 8th by the finish. As Reid led, she was followed by Stony Brook's Lucy Van Dalen, as Duke's Kate Van Buskirk and Georgetown's Renee Tomlin futilely tried to put themselves in contention for the win. But over the final 100, there was no doubt as to who was the best. Reid won convincingly in 4:14.57 thanks to a last lap of 62.93 and Van Dalen got the runner-up honors in 4:15.33.
Quick Thought #1 - We know it didn't end up making a difference (Reid was going to win this race no matter what), but how could Jordan Hasay let herself get passed on the inside just before the 200 meter mark?
Quick Thought #2 - Jordan Hasay's fade to 8th ended up costing Oregon dearly in the team race, as they lost to Texas A&M by four points. Had Hasay finished 3rd (which was 2.3 seconds ahead of her), the Ducks would have tied A&M for the title. Altogether at NCAAs, Hasay scored just six points and Oregon in hindsight needed 11 from her (the necessary 3rd-place finish in the 1,500 would have taken a point away from teammate Becca Friday). But we think the threads saying that Hasay single-handedly cost Oregon the team title are over the top. Yes, we know that's the way the media/Internet operates in this day in age and we know that the criticisms are in some ways factually correct. The same can be said and probably is being said about Jeff Demps costing his team the men's title. But what good does criticism likes that serve?
We know it's just part of being a star. When you do well, people overdo it in dishing out praise and the same is true in a negative direction.
Hasay is star and a great contributor and she tried to complete a double at NCAAs that - prior to Reid doing it this year - had never been done successfully. The NCAA indoor meet was a coronation for Hasay. She didn't suddently lose it - maybe it's just hard to maintain top form for three months.
Additionally, the team score is influenced by everyone - not just the stars. We don't see any threads about how Oregon steepler Claire Michel only scored one point when she came in seeded 5th in the steeple - that's a 3-point swing right there. And how about English Gardner, seeded 5th on time (4th among the finalists), finishing 7th in the 100, or the Oregon 4 x 100 failing to finish the semifinals? Those were more precious potential points that were never won.
Men's 1,500: Centro's Textbook Tactics And Brilliant Kick Leave Ulrey As A Bridesmaid Once Again
Coming into the NCAA championships, many uninformed pundits were probably putting their money on indoor mile champ and outdoor 1,500 leader Miles Batty of BYU. But all week, we said we expected the race to come down to a battle between 2009 World Championships team member Dorian Ulrey of Arkansas and Matt Centrowitz of Oregon. That's exactly what happened - and in the end, Centrowitz grabbed his first NCAA title in 3:42.54 thanks to a last lap of 53.38 and a last 800 of 1:51.36, as Ulrey ended up second in 3:43.06 (last lap of 53.70).
The race started out very slowly, as only four guys were under 50-flat for the first 300. As the pace dawdled, Kansas' Don Wasinger decided to get things moving and he swung way wide on the second turn and moved up from the back of the field to the lead. Wasinger would basically take the field almost to the bell in the lead as the pace got faster (61.16 leader-to-leader for the 400 from 300 to 700 and 58.08 leader-to-leader from 700 to 1,100). The whole time that Wasinger led, Centrowitz was never far behind, perfectly positioned just behind the leader throughout the race. As the field hit the bell, it was Montana State's Patrick Casey who had the lead, as he had made a big move to go from next-to-last to first over the penultimate 400, which he covered in 56.88. At 1,200, Casey, Centrowitz and Ulrey were running 1-2-3 and they'd stay that way until 200 meters remained, when Centrowitz moved to the front with Ulrey right behind, tracking his every move. Over the final 100, Centrowitz was just too good, as he'd pull away and do what he's done in every single 1,500 he's run this year - win comfortably.
Men's 1500 Results 1 948 Matthew Centrowitz JR Oregon 3:42.54 10 2 639 Dorian Ulrey SR Arkansas 3:43.06 8 3 616 Abdi Hassan JR Arizona 3:43.95 6 4 1119 Matthew Gibney SR Villanova 3:44.38 5 5 711 Dumisane Hlaselo JR Florida 3:44.59 4 6 656 Erik van Ingen JR Binghamton 3:44.71 3 7 665 Miles Batty JR BYU 3:45.07 2 8 880 Patrick Casey SO Montana State 3:45.19 1 9 931 Jeremy Rae SO Notre Dame 3:45.53 10 625 Darius Terry JR Arizona State 3:46.52 11 1077 Chris O'Hare SO Tulsa 3:47.61 12 976 Julian Matthews JR Providence 3:47.95 13 932 Johnathan Shawel JR Notre Dame 3:53.50 14 803 Don Wasinger JR Kansas 3:55.63
Quick Thought #1 - We loved the way Dorian Ulrey reacted shortly after crossing the finish line. We're sure the fifth-year senior has been consumed and driven to win an NCAA title at 1,500 meters and we are certain he never dreamed of finishing 2nd. But a little bit after finishing second, Ulrey looked into the stands a few meters past the finish line and simply shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "What am I going to do?" Ulrey's shrug showed that he realized he ran a good race and simply was beaten by a runner who is in great form and who was just better today.
And Ulrey admitted as much to his hometown paper, which quoted him as saying, "You know, I did everything I could." He added, "I ran in perfect position the whole time, didn't get myself boxed in, didn't get tripped up, and put myself in a great position to win. The finish line was straight ahead and I couldn't close out.''
Dorian, don't feel too bad. Not being able to win an NCAA 1,500 title isn't the end of the world. Runners far better than you were also never able to do it. Does anyone besides us remember the fact that a guy named Bernard Lagat never won the collegiate 1,500 title?
Quick Thought #2 - It's certainly worth noting that Centrowitz's final 1,200 was 2:52.63.
Quick Thought #3 - The top six finishers all had the six best last laps and they all finished in the same order that their last laps ranked, with the exception of Binghamton's Erik van Ingen, who was a bit too far back entering the bell. His final 400 of 54.59 was actually fourth best.
Quick Thought #4: We caught up with indoor mile champ Miles Batty as well as outdoor champ Matt Centrowitz after the race (video interviews below). Batty told us he thought he raced a bit too much this year. He told us the NCAA final was his 22nd race of the year and said, "I love going after those fast times ... but I think it cost me a little bit today."
As for Centrowitz, we asked him since he's now a national champion if he'd like to have a Centro Nation much like his Oregon teammate AJ Acosta has the AJ Nation supporting him wherever he competes. He said he was all for a Centro Nation - with one caveat. As Centro quipped, "I'd like my nation to consist of girls ... really hot girls."
Quick Thought #5 - We want to give a shout out to Wasinger for making sure this race wasn't a glorified 800-meter sprint. The early leader paid the price, however, for his early pacemaking, as he ended up dead last.
Women's Steeple: Emma Coburn Delivers As Expected
The one distance event at NCAAs where we felt it was pretty easy to pick the winner before the event began was the women's steeplechase, as Colorado's Emma Coburn entered as the heavy favorite, given the fact that she was the runner-up last year and had nearly 13 seconds on the next best runner. Coburn lived up to the hype and was able to get the win and hold off Virginia's Stephanie Garcia, who put up a spirited fight and gamely tried to hang with Coburn.
The victory by no means was easy for Coburn, as Garcia hung tough for a big PR of 9:47.29 (previous PR of 9:55.10) to get 2nd.
But Coburn was very impressive and the discipline that she ran with proved she is a true disciple of Colorado coach Mark Wetmore, who believes that the best way to run is to execute an evenly-split race.
Coburn came into the race with a stellar PR of 9:40.15 (which is a very good time, as it's an Olympic A qualifier), and she went out and basically put herself right on that pace and stuck to it with amazing accuracy. Her last 7 laps from the finsh line were covered in the following times. 76.51, 77.40, 77.34, 77.67, 77.92, and 75.04. Talk about consistency. That is incredible.
However, for the first five laps, Garcia stayed right behind Coburn, but when just more than 2 laps remained, Garcia finally cracked. The stats show that Coburn didn't really speed up; rather, Garcia found it impossible to stay on a pace that was way faster than her PR. But Garcia deserves great praise for running so well on the biggest stage. Coburn's teammate Shalaya Kipp ended up third.
Quick Thought #1 - Garcia wasn't the only runner in the field to run big on Saturday. The 3rd- through 5th-place finishers also all ran big PRs to score at NCAAs and none had broken 10 before.
5th-placer Genevieve LaCaze of Florida ran 9:59.44. She came into the finals with a 10:04.68 best, which she set in the prelims. Coming into Des Moines, her best was 10:05.92.
4th-placer Alyssa Kulik of Clemson ran 9:57.51. She came into the finals with a 10:03.23 PR, which she set in the prelims. Coming into the meet, her PR was 10:05.51.
3rd-placer Shalaya Kipp ran 9:56.37. She had a PR of 10:03.37 prior to the race.
Quick Thought #2 - There was a fall just after the runners made the jump over the barrier after the 1st lap was complete that took down at least two runners, including Chantelle Groenewoud of Illinois and Syracuse's Katie Hursey, who ended up third-to-last and last, respectively.
Men's 5,000: Chelanga Bounces Back From 10k Loss And Caps His NCAA Career With A Gutsy Victory
What a race.
Saturday was full of great performances in a slew of events, so it was only fitting that the last distance of the event of the 2011 NCAA Track and Field Championships was simply sensational.
Liberty's Sam Chelanga, the collegiate record holder at 10,000 meters, who was crushed by Leonard Korir over the final 300 in the 10,000 final on Friday night, found a way to win the men's 5,000 in 13:29.30. After losing the 10,000 - his bread-and-butter event - on Friday night in a kick (and losing the indoor 5,000 in the sprint), it seemed hard to imagine how Chelanga would win today's 5,000 unless he just hammered away and broke an incredibly talented field. That's exactly what happened.
Men's 1500 Results 5000 Meter Results
The sun was out on Saturday and it certainly felt warmer than the 70 degrees that was being reported by weather.com. That being said, the guys in the men's 5,000 decided to let it rip from the start. Northern Arizona's Diego Estrada, who was running the race fresh, wanted the pace to be hot and got things going for the first two laps. Another fresh runner, Arizona freshman Lawi Lalang, then took over and really did an exceptional job of keeping the pace honest, as the runners got out at 4:20 (after the race, the stats would reveal the leaders basically ran the whole race at 4:20 pace, as the 1,600 split was 4:20, 3,200 split 8:41 and 4,800 split 13:00). Roughly 2,670 meters into the race, Chelanga - who had been right on Lalang's heels - surged and threw down hard and Lalang went with him as they covered the 400 from 2,600 to 3,000 in 63.66. Chelanga backed off once Lalang covered the move, but several other times he'd try brief surges and with 4 laps remaining, the duo had opened up a 2.4-second gap on the feared kicker Leonard Korir, who had vanquished Chelanga Friday night and also indoors. However, the chase pack would close the gap a bit and with 3 laps to go, the pack led by Estrada was just 1.32 seconds back.
At this point, we must admit it was next to impossible not to root for Chelanga. The senior was bravely trying to run away from the kickers and win from the front and it would be agonizing to see him get mowed down by the field.
Just when it looked like Chelanga might be in real jeopardy, he responded and threw down another surge with 700 meters remaining, which led him to covering the penultimate lap in 63.47 and the 400 meters from 600 to 200 remaining in 60 flat. We're not sure if Chelanga surged because he sensed Korir and Estrada getting close or if he surged to get rid of Lalang, but in any event, the move was incredibly effective, as entering the bell, Chelanga had a 1.4-second lead on Lalang. 1.4 seconds is by no means safe and Chelanga knew that, so he coninued to squeeze down the pace down all the way until just before the finish when he briefly enjoyed his much-deserved victory. His last 400 of 58.16 was the best in the field, as he won in 13:29.30 to Lalang's 13:31.69. The 10,000-meter champion Leonard Korir did end up third 13:35.71.
Quick Thought #1 - Chelanga couldn't have ended his career with a better finish than this. It was truly spectacular that such a good runner ended on a high note. The race reminded us that a lot of running does come down to emotion and desire. Time and time again, we see runners defy logic on the biggest stage. Anyone remember when Brad Hauser bombed the 10,000 at the Olympic Trials but came back to make the team in the 5,000 in 2000? What about indoors this year when a fresh Jordan Hasay lost to Sheila Reid in the DMR but rallied to beat her tired the next day in the 3,000?
Quick Thought #2 - Indoor 3,000 champion Elliott Heath had his second straight terrible race of the weekend. His struggles reminded us of the fact that the Stanford men for two years in a row have been unable to peak correctly at the cross-country championships.
Quick Thought #3 - We caught up with Chelanga after the race (video interview below) and asked him what training group he was going to join as a pro, as we heard a rumor he was headed West. Chelanga, who is a fan of LetsRun.com, didn't want to answer the question, as he seemingly thought it would jeopardize his contract negotiations, but he at the same didn't want to totally disappoint the letsrun.com nation so Chelanga said, "Okay, letsrun, I know you guys love this kind of stuff, but I really can't give you this now ... I'll give you a hint - I'm going to go West ... You guys can talk about it."