Emma Coburn Sets Meet Record In Women’s Steeple as Stephanie Garcia and Colleen Quigley PR and Punch Their Tickets To Beijing

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By LetsRun.com
June 27, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. — Emma Coburn, the fastest steepler in American history, won her fourth career US title (second straight) in the women’s steeplechase today at the 2015 USATF Outdoor Championships in impressive fashion as she set a new US meet record of 9:15.59 even though the race was run in 90-degree weather (34% humidity). Coburn broke her own meet record from last year of 9:19.72, which was also achieved in hot conditions.

Stephanie Garcia pushed the pace for much of the race and tried to say with Coburn when Coburn made her move with just over 1k to go. Garcia stayed close until the penultimate water jump. By the bell, Coburn led by 15 meters and Garcia would struggle a lot over the final 200. Her last lap was only the 7th-fastest in the field but she still ended up second in a new pb of 9:23.48 (previous pb of 9:24.28).

The battle for the third Beijing spot came down to two women who battled it out for the NCAA title here just a few weeks ago. Coming into the last water barrier, NCAA third-placer Leah O’Connor (formerly of Michigan State – now running for adidas) tried to make a surge and go past NCAA champion Colleen Quigley (formerly of Florida State but now running for Nike’s Bowerman Track Club) but O’Connor’s left foot (Editor’s note: It was kind of funny to realize she was wearing a Nike spike) slipped off the barrier and down she went. Quigley made the team in a new pb of 9:23.48 (previous pb of 9:29.32) with a great last lap of 70.00 – the fastest of the afternoon (Coburn ran a 71.07). Despite the fall, O’Connor still ended up with a pb of 9:31.03 (previous pb of 9:33.38), but the fall cost her her first sub-9:30 clocking and a possible Worlds spot.

Results and our quick take analysis appear below.

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Results Below *Lap by Lap splits here.

Place Name Affiliation Time Heat (Pl)
1 Emma Coburn New Balance 9:15.59 1 (1)
2 Stephanie Garcia New Balance 9:23.48 1 (2)
3 Colleen Quigley Bowerman T C 9:24.92 1 (3)
4 Leah O’Connor adidas 9:31.03 1 (4)
5 Ashley Higginson Saucony 9:35.55 1 (5)
6 Shalaya Kipp Oiselle 9:37.09 1 (6)
7 Courtney Frerichs U M K C 9:46.24 1 (7)
8 Bridget Franek Team Run Eugene 9:47.81 1 (8)
9 Rachel Johnson Baylor 9:53.34 1 (9)
10 Sarah Pease Adidas/Rogue 9:54.07 1 (10)
11 Nicole Bush New Balance 9:54.51 1 (11)
12 Jamie Cheever Brooks / Club NW 9:56.74 1 (12)
13 Betsy Graney Asics/Gazelle Sp 10:02.04 1 (13)
14 Kimber Mattox Team Run Eugene 10:08.62 1 (14)
15 Rebeka Stowe N J N Y T C 10:18.84 1 (15)

Quick Thought #1: Emma Coburn needs to raise her goals for Beijing.

Afterwards on NBC, when asked about her goals for Beijing, Coburn admitted that while she was ranked #2 in the world last year, her goal was a bit more modest, “I think being top five in the world would be a great goal.”

Perhaps she’s just setting the bar low publicly to keep the pressure off as top five is a ridiculously low goal for Coburn. If she can run 9:15 in high temps (90 degrees but it only felt like 89 as the humidity was so low), then gold is a real possibility as no one is tearing up the event this year.

2015 World’s Best Times
1 9:15.08 Hyvin Jepkemoi – KEN -Rome
2. 9:15.59 Emma Coburn – USA – Eugene
3. 9:15.75 Virginia Nyambura KEN – Rome

If Coburn hadn’t been hurt in 2013, she’d be nearing Galen Rupp-type dominance in this event (7 straight US titles) as she’d have 5 straight titles. As it stands, she’s won the last 4 US champs that she’s run – 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. It’s worth noting that those are the only four US champs Coburn has ever run. So she’s undefeated at USAs for her life. We don’t think any other USA competitor can say that.

Afterwards we asked Coburn about the top five comment and she said that many of the top people in the world were missing last year and if they had been competing at the level they can that is where she would have been. She said she can’t worry too much about her competitors. All she can do is get in sub-9:10 steeple shape. “I definitely have to be in PR shape to be competitive at Worlds,” she said, adding she’ll run at Lausanne and Monaco before returning to the US to train for Worlds.

Quick Thought #2: Emma Coburn was fortunate to not be disqualified in this one.

With about 1000 meters to go, Coburn lost her balance after bumping the rail as she started to make the turn towards the water jump. She then took two full steps inside of the rail on the turn. By rule, that should be a DQ. If you step inside the rail, not on the straightaway without being bumped, you are supposed to be DQd.

Here is the rule (thanks to mboaard poster Bad Wigins)

“Each competitor must keep in the lanes outside the line or curb marking the inside of the track, including the curved part of the diversion from the track for the steeplechase water jump. In races run entirely in lanes, each competitor must keep in the allotted lane from start to finish. In races run partially in lanes, each competitor must keep in the allotted lane from the start to the marked cut – in points. Unless a material advantage has been gained or the athlete is in violation of Rule 163.4, a competitor shall not be disqualified if he or she:

(a) Is pushed or forced by another competitor to step out of the lane, or
(b) Steps out of the lane on the straightaway, or
(c) Steps or runs outside of the outer lane line on the curve, or on any straight part of the diversion from the track for the steeplechase water jump.

Excluding the above exceptions, the Referee shall disqualify a competitor if an Umpire reports that the competitor has stepped out of the lane.”

See the infraction for yourself:

QT #3: Stephanie Garcia Leaves With a PR and a Worlds Spot

Garcia has been having a terrific year in 2015 and that continued today. The last 100m was not pretty for her but not only did she hold on for second, she set a PR and was super pleased after the race or “super happy” as she said. Once Emma made her move, Garcia went with her and tried to hang on as long as she could.

Garcia said the plan it stay in the States and train in Flagstaff until the Worlds.

QT #4: Colleen Quigley, NCAA Champ and USA World Team Member

Quigley said her Florida State coaches have been coaching for the last two weeks after NCAAs but from now on she’ll be handing the reins over to Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert.

Today’s race was clearly very emotional for Quigley. She had to pause several times during the interview to compose herself as she was on the verge of crying tears of joy.

QT #5: Leah O’Connor Falls on the Last Water Barrier

O’Connor was running her first race in adidas gear and was battling for the final Worlds spot when she fell for the first time in her career in the steeple at the final water barrier. Afterwards she said “What a bummer” but was very professional about the whole experience. She added that she raced in Nike spikes today because she didn’t want to change things up before her first USA final but she’ll be in adidas spikes from now on.

Screenshots from NBC Broadcast below.

Discuss the event in our world famous fan forum:

*Official Day 3 2015 USA Outdoor Live Discussion Thread 
*Leah O’Connor: “God damnit, f***” 
*Gut wrenching fall for Leah O’Connor in the steeple


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