2013 NCAA Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase: Emma Coburn Wins As Colleen Quigley Gets The “A”

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by LetsRun.com
June 8, 2013

Eugene, OR – Nothing unexpected happened in the women’s steeplechase final at the 2013 NCAA Track and Field Championships as Colorado’s Olympic 9th placer Emma Coburn came in as the huge favorite and delivered on that, running 9:35.38 to win her second steeple NCAA Championship (she also won in 2011; redshirt in 2012).

Behind Coburn, the four women who had gone under 9:55 this year took places two through five and finished almost exactly in the order of their PRs coming into this race. Florida State’s Colleen Quigley was second (PR 9:49.44 before today), Weber State’s Amber Henry third (9:51.55), Cornell’s Rachel Sorna fourth (9:50.39) and Michigan State’s Leah O’Connor fifth (9:53.53).

Analyze it all we want the result was the same, an Emma Coburn win

The Race

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As expected, Coburn went right to the front of this race, creating a visible gap between her and second place by 600m. However, today she wasn’t dominating the way she did the prelim as the women behind her were running pretty quickly themselves with Henry setting the pace and Quigley drafting off of her. Behind them, Sorna led the “chase chase” pack, which was running about a second slower a lap than Henry and Quigley.

That pattern would continue for the entire race right up until the bell, where Coburn had a 7.08-second gap on Henry in second. At this point, Quigley went around Henry and started closing hard. At the bell, the gap to Coburn looked insurmountable, but by 200 to go, some people started to wonder if Coburn could get caught. In the end though, the gap was too much and Quigley ran out of room as Coburn won it in 9:35.38, 2.85 seconds ahead of Quigley (9:38.23).

Henry didn’t have the wheels that Quigley did, losing more than five seconds on her in the last lap and finishing third in 9:43.39. Sorna, who had pulled away from the second pack and had almost a four-second gap on fifth place with a lap to go, grabbed fourth place, just holding off a very fast closing Leah O’Connor as they ran 9:52.86 and 9:53.71 respectively.

University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Courtney Frerichs took sixth (9:55.02), Arkansas’ Grace Heymsfield seventh (9:57.18) and Notre Dame’s Alexa Aragon completed a breakout year taking the last first-team All-American spot in eighth (9:57.26).

Quick Thought (QT) #1: Was Coburn beatable today? We don’t really think so, but she was definitely not dominant, as her margin of victory was relatively small. In her post-race interview (above) she said that coming in she and Coach Mark Wetmore thought if she ran in the 9:30s that she would win, but she wasn’t overly confident as in the steeple anything can happen if you trip on a barrier or someone else has a big day. Well, the latter happened here with Quigley setting a huge 11+-second PR and closing with a 61.19 last lap (way faster than Coburn’s 65.45) and almost running Coburn down. Coburn said that she was trying to look at the Jumbotron to gauge the distance she had on second, but she wasn’t able to tell from the head-on angles they were showing. She said she was actually surprised when she finished and saw Quigley so close behind.

If Quigley had gone earlier and not waited so long to make her move, maybe she would have caught Coburn and it would have been intersting to see if Coburn could have responded. We think she would have most likely. Remember earlier this year, she had some unexpected company at the end at Payton Jordan and responded to get the win.

That being said, it definitely did not look like it was easy for Coburn at the end. Honestly, on the last lap, Coburn didn’t look as smooth as usual, she was clearly laboring as she was leaning back a bit. It wasn’t like she was running slowly, as she finished 12 seconds off her 9:23.54 PR, but this race was a good reminded that virtually all runners are beatable on a given day. All that said, she had over a seven-second gap at the bell and that was not going down barring a total Julia Lucas like blow-up, so the way the race was run, she wasn’t in danger. In the end she went out as the favorite and produced.

QT#2: Big PRs for Quigley (11+ seconds as we said above) and Henry, who dropped 8.61 seconds off her 9:51.55 PR. Quigley got the World Championships “A” standard of 9:43.00 and that time puts her fourth in the US this year behind Coburn, Jamie Cheever and OTC’s Bridget Franek. After today, she’s a name you can mention when talking about contenders for a US Team spot for Moscow. She had a big kick today, closing in 71.19. How much faster can she go if she doesn’t have so much left in the tank?

We didn’t get a chance to talk to Quigley after the race as she didn’t come through the interview tent as she wanted to watch the men’s 5000 where her brother Dan Quigley was 14th for Missouri in 14:08.25. We know many of you are disappointed by this fact as our interview with the model Quigley after the preliminary round is by far the #1 most-watched video of the four day NCAAs so far.

QT #3: Henry was agonizingly close to the “A” standard as she missed by .39 seconds. It’s not devastating though, as she can chase it during or after USAs if she gets top 3 (she’s currently sixth in the US) or go to Moscow with the “B”. Given what she ran today “leading” 6.5 laps today we imagine she has another .39 seconds in her if she can get some help, but maybe not in super hot Des Moines.

We spoke to her after the race (interview above on left) and she wasn’t thrilled with her race, saying she’s “indifferent” to it. She didn’t have the turnover today to kick with Quigley, but felt on a different day maybe she could have. She was also disappointed to just miss the “A” as she “didn’t finish like she could” and believes she could have got a better time.

QT#4: Coburn told us that after this year she’s staying in Boulder to continue to be coached by Coach Wetmore and work as a volunteer assistant for the CU team.

QT#5: Alexa Aragon finished her stellar 2013 collegiate season with the last first-team All-American spot after going into Regionals with only a 10:10 PR. She PRed at Regionals with 10:04 and then again in the semifinals in Eugene with 9:56 to make the final and now she’s an All-American. She is relatively new to the steeplechase and said she didn’t even expect to make Nationals, let alone All-American, so definitely a great race for her.


Place Athlete Affiliation Time Wind Heat (Pl) Result (split)
1 Emma Coburn COLO 9:35.38 1 (1) Heat data
2 Colleen Quigley FSU 9:38.23 1 (2) Heat data
3 Amber Henry WEB 9:43.39 1 (3) Heat data
4 Rachel Sorna CORN 9:52.86 1 (4) Heat data
5 Leah O’Connor MSU 9:53.71 1 (5) Heat data
6 Courtney Frerichs UMKC 9:55.02 1 (6) Heat data
7 Grace Heymsfield ARK 9:57.18 1 (7) Heat data
8 Alexa Aragon ND 9:57.26 1 (8) Heat data
9 Ashley Beutler WISC 10:04.98 1 (9) Heat data
10 Martina Tresch KSST 10:09.07 1 (10) Heat data
11 Shelby Greany PROV 10:10.76 1 (11) Heat data
12 Jordan Hamric WVU 10:16.92 1 (12) Heat data

More LRC Coverage: LRC Women’s 1500: Oklahoma State’s Natalja Piliusina Weaves Her Way From Seventh To First In The Final 100m To Win
LRC Men’s 1500: Oregon’s Mac Fleet Kicks To Victory To Delight of Hometown Crowd
LRC Men’s 5,000: Lawi Lalang Defeats Two Fresh Sub-13:20 Guys To Complete The 10k/5k Double

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