March 14, 2014
Albuquerque, NM – The women’s DMR at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships came down to a two-team fight between Arkansas and Stanford and in the end, it was the four-woman team from Arkansas of Grace Heymsfield, Chrishuana Williams, Stephanie Brown and Dominique Scott that got the job done, winning in 11:05.83. Stanford came in a distant second at 11:08.28 as Notre Dame just outkicked Florida for 3rd, 11:11.54 to 11:12.12.
A Quick Race Comes Down To A One-On-One 1,600 Duel For A National Championship
Like the men’s race, the women’s DMR was a bit atypical. Unlike the men’s race, it did come down to the last leg, but the unusual part was that by that point only two or three teams were really still in it.
Stanford’s Amy Weissenbach would get the race going with a quick 3:25.66 1,200 leg, which left her team with a more than 2-second lead over Notre Dame in second place and Arkansas in 3rd. However, this time it would be Arkansas which had the fastest 400 leg (instead of Stanford like the men’s race) as Chrishuana Williams ran 52.56 to put her team just over a second back of Stanford going into the 800 leg. Notre Dame was a close 3rd, Florida 4th and FSU 5th, while the rest of the field had already allowed themselves to be gapped a bit.
Then the 800 leg is where it became a two-team race as Stanford’s Claudia Saunders ran a 2:06.19 and Arkansas’ Stephanie Brown a 2:05.00 while Notre Dame, Florida and FSU only managed 800 legs of 2:09-2:11.
The 1600-leg saw Stanford’s 2:00.97 800 woman Justine Fedronic pitted against Arkansas’ Dominque Scott (4:36 mile, 2:10 800 PRs) as Fedronic led Scott through a 68 first 400 and 2:20 first 800. Behind them 2013 Worlds competitor Cory McGee was on the anchor for Florida and was slowly reeling the top 2 teams in as she pulled away from Notre Dame.
The race would continue that way and by 600 to go McGee was almost right on the heels of Fedronic and Scott and it looked like it might become a 3-team race after all. However, she had done too much work to get there and as they hit 500 to go, Scott made a move around Federonic, who in return responded and they once again put a gap on McGee.
Federonic fought to try and stay with Scott, but Scott clearly had way more left as she blew Fedronic away, putting 2.45 seconds on her over the final 400m and Arkansas got the win in 11:05.83 thanks to Scott’s 4:40.24 1,600 split. Stanford was a comfortable second in 11:08.28 as McGee had faded over the last 400m and was caught just before the line by a fast closing Kelly Curran who anchored Notre Dame to 3rd place (11:11.54) as Florida finished 4th (11:12.12).
Quick Thought #1 – 2:10 > 2:00??? No one who knew Fedronic and Scott’s credentials would have predicted Scott to blow her away like that over the final 400m. Federonic has split 4:33 this year and has 2:00.97 800 speed. Scott has a decent mile PR at 4:36, but her 800 PR is only 2:10.02 (and that’s not an ancient PR … it’s from this year.) Knowing this you would have expected Fedronic to get Stanford the DMR sweep, but Scott ran a very solid leg and won it for Arkansas.
The result proves that kicks don’t necessarily who has the most speed. It’s who has the most speed left and Fedronic is very inexperienced at 1500/mile.
And Scott ran very well. Her 4:40 split converting for altitude is equivalent to 4:34.14 for 1,600 at sea level – so roughly 4:36 for the mile, which is her PR. She ran her PR and deserved to win.
QT #2: Props to Arkansas. The Arkansas women had really come up short at NCAAs in cross country in both 2012 (18th) and 2013 (15th). This performance should help erase many of the ill feelings associated with those two stinkers which greatly disappointed coach Harter.
QT #3 – Ignorance Is Bliss: After the race, we got the chance to have an interview with the entire Arkansas team. We wanted to know what Scott’s thoughts were going up against someone with speed like Fedronic on the anchor leg. When we asked her and her teammates burst out laughing as they knew Scott had no idea about the credentials of Fedronic. She even admitted that she’s known as the stereotypical 5K/10K girl on the team with no speed. This was probably an instance when not knowing about the competition paid off. She sat and kicked on Fedronic and it worked, but if she had known about Fedronic’s speed she might have tried leading and pushing the pace instead.
QT #4 – The 800 Was Key: If you look at the splits for this race it was really the 800 legs from Stanford’s Saunders and Arkansas’ Brown that gave them the advantage over the rest of the field. All the teams’ in the top-5 had anchor legs run between 4:40-4:42, but it was the 800 leg where Arkansas and Stanford crushed the rest of the field.
QT #5 – Quick Time At Altitude: Arkansas’ winning time of 11:05.83 was pretty good when you factor in the altitude. The NCAA actually has a conversion for DMRs run at altitude and Arkansas’ time would be worth 10:55.80, which would put it as the 3rd fastest time this year, only narrowly behind Georgetown’s 10:55.63 and much better than the 10:57.15 Arkansas actually ran to qualify for the meet.
QT #6: Props To Cory McGee for doubling back from the mile prelims and putting forth a good effort in getting her team back into contention. Honestly, the work she did catching the leaders probably cost Florida 3rd place as she faded and just lost to Notre Dame, but when we asked her about it, she had no regrets. She said there was no way her and her teammates would want to concede victory and “protect 3rd place” and she sounded almost offended at the idea. She did a great job gradually reeling in the top 2, but as she said the gap was just too much to make up as she was over 5-seconds down when she got the baton.
We talked to her about running three mile races over the course of two days, but she said the prelim was actually a good warmup for the DMR and she wasn’t worried about recovering and coming back for the mile final on Saturday.
Results (individual names and splits here):
|3||Notre Dame||SO||ND||11:11.54||1 (3)|
|11||North Carolina||SO||UNC||12:14.55||1 (11)|