Women’s 10,000m Final: Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel Wins a Crazy Race

by LetsRun.com
June 11, 2015

EUGENE, Ore. — Never say you’ve seen it all. Molly Seidel of Notre Dame pulled the huge upset to win the women’s 10,000m at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 33:18.37, in one of the most unusual 10,000m ever run.

After a modest pace for most of the race, there was a pack of 12 together with a mile to go. Then defending champion Emma Bates of Boise State struck. Bates flew to the lead and did not look back. Around the turn, she opened up a lead of 10 meters. As she continued around the oval she stretched the lead to 20 meters, then 30 meters, and with three laps to go she was roughly 40 meters — 7.5 seconds — ahead of the chasers thanks to a 66.4 lap. The chasers themselves were now strung out and led by former Foot Locker champ Molly Seidel of Notre Dame.

Molly Seidel wins 2015 NCAA 10,000 Molly Seidel wins 2015 NCAA 10,000

Before one could even think of handling Bates the title, on the next lap she began slowing incredibly. Seidel began cutting into the lead and before the lap was up Bates had lost the lead as quickly as she gained it, as Seidel seized the lead from Bates.

Had Bates thought she had only a lap to go instead of a mile to go? Afterwards, we’d find out she had not — she just ran out of steam after trying to make a big move.

Seidel herself had opened up a gap on the chasers that included 2015 NCAA leader Dominique Scott of Arkansas, Oregon’s Waverly Neer and Molly Grabill, William and Mary’s Emily Stites and Tennessee’s Chelsea Blaase, and who had been doing some of the leading before Bates made her move.

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It was Seidel’s race to lose now, and she kept the hammer down. She had run just under 2:30 from four laps to go until two to go when she passed Bates. She kept that pace as she ran the penultimate lap in 74.7 and had a comfortable lead of roughly 20 meters over Emily Stites at the bell, who was followed by Neer and Grabill of Oregon in 3rd and 4th, then Blaase and Scott, all of whom were within striking distance of one another.

Seidel lengthened her lead the final lap with a 69.9 final lap and she punched her hands into the air to celebrate the first NCAA 10,000m title by a Notre Dame woman. Scott used her speed on the final lap to pass all four women in front of her to get second as Stites held off Grabill and Neer for third. Grabill and Neer picked up nine big points for Oregon in the team title battle.

Afterwards, Emma Bates revealed she had not miscounted the laps. She and coach Corey Ihmels (the 1991 Foot Locker Champion) had come up with a plan to run a sub-70 second lap with 4 to go to try and burn the kick out of NCAA indoor 3000 and DMR champion Dominique Scott. Ihmels told Bates to run a 68-second lap, not a 70-second lap with 4 to go. Bates did even better with a 66.4 and she would pay the price but have no regrets. Comments, videos and analysis below the results.
*Live thread with splits here. *Official splits here

Place Name Affiliation Time
1 Molly Seidel JR Notre Dame 33:18.37
2 Dominique Scott JR Arkansas 33:25.81
3 Emily Stites JR William and Mary 33:26.15
4 Molly Grabill JR Oregon 33:26.61
5 Waverly Neer SR Oregon 33:26.98
6 Chelsea Blaase SO Tennessee 33:27.73
7 Margo Malone JR Syracuse 33:39.50
8 Alice Wright FR New Mexico 33:41.86
9 Katie Gillespie SR West Virginia 33:44.08
10 Emma Bates SR Boise State 33:50.14
11 Mara Olson SR Butler 33:55.17
12 Megan Curham SO Princeton 34:09.08
13 Elvin Kibet SR Arizona 34:12.57
14 Erin Osment SR Davidson 34:14.25
15 Diane Robison SR Arkansas 34:24.61
16 Laura Nagel SR Providence 34:31.08
17 Bronte Golick SR UCLA 34:45.65
18 Hillary Montgomery SR Texas A&M 34:48.13
19 Joanna Thompson SR North Carolina St. 34:49.29
20 Amber Eichkorn JR South Dakota 34:55.53
21 Hannah Everson JR Air Force 35:16.09
22 Amanda Behnke SO Indiana 35:33.56
23 Sinead Haughey SR Furman 35:51.00
Katy Moen SR Iowa State DNF

Quick Take #1: Molly Seidel was justifiably over the moon after this one

“Total disbelief,” said Seidel when we asked her how she was feeling as the newly-minted 10,000 champ. “I’m worried I’m going to wake up from a nap and it’s going to be three hours before the race right now. It’s incredible.

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“My coach (Matthew Sparks) all season has been trying to drill it in to me that he believes in me and that he knows I can run up with anyone. I think it took a little while for me to start to realize that and to kind of go for it. It’s been kind of a rough first two years for me in college and this year was the [first] time where I took that next step. Part of me kind of knew I could do it but the other part was in total disbelief.

“Going in, I knew Bates and Scott were by far the two heaviest favorites in the race. I just wanted to stay up and get my nose in it and stay competitive.”

As for what’s up next for Seidel, USAs appaers to be out of the question as get this – she doesn’t have the qualifying time (Memo to USATF, there should be an automatic bye into USAs for all American citizens that are NCAA champs). As a result, she’ll likely take some time off and start getting ready for cross country which she’s very excited about as Notre Dame has a great class of recruits coming in, led by two-time Foot Locker champion Anna Rohrer.

Quick Take #2: Dominique Scott said the 10,000 is a very tough race for her

Scott said that once she got into a rhythm it was very hard to get out of it and thus once Bates made a break for it with a mile to go, it took her a while to process the move and try to respond even though she knew a move would be coming around that time. Scott said Bates told her after the race that she knew that was what she had to do to get Scott off her shoulder.

Scott said she was in shock being so far back (she was sixth with a lap to go) but that once she saw three women in front of her with 200 to go, she knew she had to make a move to at least get top three.

Scott also said she decided to run the 10,000 this year because her coach, Lance Harter, wanted to bring her PR in line with her other times. Going into the outdoor season, she had run 4:14 for 1500, 8:52 for 3k, 15:42 for 5k, but just 33:51 for 10k. She ran a big PR of 32:11 at the Stanford Invitational (#8 on the all-time collegiate list), and when she and Harter looked at the lists at the end of the season, they decided that would put her in contention for the win at NCAAs and it would be a good idea to run it.

Emma Bates in the lead Emma Bates in the lead

Quick Take #3: Defending champ Emma Bates was classy in defeat and said that she had no regrets about her bold move

We’d definitely recommend you watch our interview with Bates below as Bates had a lot to say about her big move with a mile to go. Many runners in Bates’ situation would be upset or reluctant to talk to the media, but Bates was very composed as she discussed her bold, but ultimately ill-fated, move. Bates said before the race, she and coach Corey Ihmels decided that Bates would try to run 68 seconds for the 22nd lap (one mile to go) no matter what the pace had been to that point. Bates knew that her speed wasn’t the best in the field — she seemed to be particularly vulnerable to Scott’s 4:12 1500 speed — but said it was all-or-nothing for her and that she wanted to defend her title. Therefore, she and Ihmels decided the best course of action would be to put in a hard move with a mile to go and break up the field.

It worked for a lap, as Bates actually ran a 66.41 that gave her a 7.59-second lead with 1200 to go. But Bates couldn’t hold onto that suicidal pace and began to slow on the next lap, and by the time she hit the second turn, she said she was really starting to feel the effects of the move.

Bates said she had no regrets about the race because she knew she gave her best effort to win it. Now she has the 5,000 final on Saturday before moving on to USAs and a pro career.

Quick Take #4: Emily Stites was pleased to get third after getting a stress fracture in xc.

Stites said the first day of xc she found out she had a stress fracture. She’s rebounded nicely from the first major injury of her career as shew as managed to get one of the final All-American spots in xc (36th and they give out 40) and now finish third here (she was 10th last year).

Quick Take #5: This was a huge performance by Oregon’s Molly Grabill and Waverly Neer

Track & Field News’ projections had Oregon down for one point in the 10,000 but Grabill and Neer came through big-time for the Ducks, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, to secure nine key points in the team race. Grabill’s performance was particularly impressive, going from 4th at Pac-12s a month ago to 4th at NCAAs. Neer was second at Pac-12s (behind Jessica Tonn of Stanford, who is only running the 5k at NCAAs) but her pb of 34:03 only ranked her 42nd on the NCAA list this year. Great job by the Ducks and coach Maurica Powell.

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