The Rest Of The Meet: Betsy Saina Wins A Historically-Fast 5k, Shannon Rowbury Comes Up Short In Her AR Attempt, Ajee Wilson Wins As Does Duane Solomon

February 20, 2016

Editor’s note: We’ve already recapped the Wanamaker Mile and Men’s 3000:

LRC Matthew Centrowitz Becomes Fourth Fastest Indoor Miler Ever (3:50.63), Repeats as Wanamaker Mile Champion 
 Ryan Hill Kicks Best to Win Loaded 3,000 in World-Leading 7:38.82; Edward Cheserek 7:40.51 (#2 All-Time NCAA)

Below we recap the rest of the pro mid-d and distance action.

Women’s 5000: Betsy Saina Sits and Kicks on Molly Huddle in a Historically Fast Race

NEW YORK — Once Gelete Burka wound up running in Spain on Friday rather than in this race, it was clear it was going to be up to Molly Huddle to do the work if the field was to achieve a fast time. Huddle is no stranger to the front of the pack and enjoys pushing the pace, and lap-by-lap she put the hurt on her competition. What began as a lead pack of seven women was down three with three laps to go, with Bowerman Track Club teammates Betsy Saina and Emily Infeld occupying spots two and three, as they had for the large majority of the race.

Hasay and Costello Being Lapped Hasay and Costello Being Lapped

Things got interesting on the penultimate lap. Saina attacked at the top of the homestretch, just as they were about to lap Liz Costello and Jordan Hasay at the back of the pack. That extra traffic created a bit of a mess and Saina was able to get a small gap on Huddle going into the bell. Huddle wasn’t licked yet, though; she hung with Saina as the two pulled away from Infeld.

Going into the home stretch, a lapped runner once again got caught up in the action as Huddle and Saina had to maneuver around Laura Thweatt. Saina ultimately closed (and navigated traffic) the best, as her 30.68 final lap was enough to hold off Huddle (who actually closed faster in 30.57), 14:57.18 to 14:57.31.

Results and quick take.

Place Athlete Time
1 Betsy Saina
Nike BTC
2 Molly Huddle
3 Emily Infeld
Nike BTC
4 Marielle Hall
5 Shelby Houlihan
Nike BTC
6 Abbey D’Agostino
new balance
7 Laura Thweatt
8 Chelsea Reilly
9 Liz Costello
new balance
10 Jordan Hasay
Nike OP
DNF Rachel Schneider
Under Armour
DNF Greta Feldman
New Jersey-New York TC
50 m to go Saina and Huddle and the lapped Thweatt 50 m to go Saina and Huddle and the lapped Thweatt

Quick Take #1: This was the deepest indoor 5k in American history

Shalane Flanagan’s 14:47.62 record was not in jeopardy today, but the Americans did some major damage to the all-time U.S. indoor list, as Huddle, Infeld, Marielle Hall and Shelby Houlihan now occupy four of the top six spots. While the performances of Huddle (who became just the second American woman to break 15:00 indoors), Infeld and Hall (who both bettered their previous indoor/outdoor pb) were not surprising, the 15:06.22 by Houlihan was a shocker. Houlihan, who now trains with Saina and Infeld as part of Jerry Schumacher’s Bowerman Track Club, slashed 40 seconds off her best 5k. Houlihan was already versatile (she won the NCAA 1500 title in 2014 and made the 800 final at USAs two weeks later), but she’s even more dangerous now that her range extends all the way out to 5,000 meters.

Houlihan set a PR at 3k in this one.

Discuss: Who were your biggest winners and losers at Millrose?

US All-Time Indoor 5000 List (courtesy of TFN)
14:47.62 Shalane Flanagan (Nike) 02/07/09
14:57.31 Molly Huddle (Saucony) 02/20/16
15:00.91 Emily Infeld (Nike) 02/20/16
15:01.70* Jenny Simpson (Colorado) 02/14/09
15:06.05 Marielle Hall (Nike) 02/20/16
15:06.22 Shelby Houlihan (Nike) 02/20/16
15:07.33 Marla Runyan (Asics) 02/18/01
15:09.31* Kim Conley (New Balance) 01/29/16
15:12.22 Emily Sisson (Providence) 02/28/15

Article continues below player.

*oversized track.


The Finish of the 5k Overhead The Finish of the 5k Overhead

Quick Thought #2: Lapped runners played a role at the end of this one

We’re not going to detract from Saina and say that she only won because lapped runners got in the way. But their presence certainly impacted the race.

“I couldn’t tell if they were going to stay in or move out and I probably lost a little fraction of a step there. But I tied up anyway, so I don’t know,” Huddle said.

Specifically with regard to passing Thweatt (who moved into lane 2 and was on Huddle and Saina’s outside as they rounded the final turn), Huddle said: “I think Betsy was strategic there and kind of tried to run into that direction so it was whoever got there first would get the edge. I just didn’t. That’s part of indoor racing, in a 5k anyway. I tried to lean a little bit and get there, but my legs were done.”

We bumped into Huddle’s coach Ray Treacy after the race and he was also irritated that lapped runners may have impacted the end of the race, but he added that he thought Huddle had enough speed that she should have never given up the lead for it to be an issue.

In a race as long as this one, the officials should instruct all the athletes beforehand to clarify what to do in the case of a lapped runner. If everyone knows what to expect, there shouldn’t be a problem, but that was not the case today and it played a part in determining the outcome of the race.

Quick Thought #3: Betsy Saina said she felt tired at Worlds last year and doesn’t plan on racing as much this summer

Saina was obviously pleased to get the win today, in her debut for the Bowerman Track Club. Though she joined the club in October, Saina had not raced on the track for BTC until today as she wanted to have time to adjust to Schumacher’s training.

Not racing as often may be a common theme for Saina in 2016 as she said she felt tired by the time she arrived in Beijing for Worlds last year and as a result only placed eighth in the 10,000. Considering she just beat the third and fourth placers in that race tonight, it seems like Saina’s new more restful approach is already working.

Quick Thought #4: Knock On Wood; Emily Infeld Has Been Healthy For Nearly A Year

Infeld was upbeat after the race. Last year at this time, she wasn’t even running, but since starting to run again in March of last year, she’s been relatively healthy. Infeld says the new addition of Saina to the BTC has been nice.

Women’s Wanamaker Mile – Shannon Rowbury Comes Up Short in American Record Attempt

For the second straight year, Shannon Rowbury came up short in her bid to break Mary Slaney’s 4:20.5 American indoor record but Rowbury had no problem dispatching the rest of the women’s Wanamaker Mile field with a 4:24.39 as Kerri Gallagher’s fine 2016 season continued with a 4:26.18 second place showing. Former Michigan runner Amanda Eccleston was third as she ran 4:26 for the second straight week, running 4:26.88 in Boston last week and 4:26.63 this week.

Place Athlete Time
1 Shannon Rowbury
Nike OP
2 Kerri Gallagher
3 Amanda Eccleston
4 Heather Kampf
5 Morgan Uceny
6 Ciara Mageean
new balance
7 Katie Mackey
Brooks Beasts
8 Alexa Efraimson
9 Heather Wilson
New Jersey-New York TC
10 Dominique Scott
11 Leah O’ Connor
12 Erin Teschuk
North Dakota St
DNF Melissa Salerno
DNF Treniere Moser
Nike OP
Rowbury Dominated Rowbury Dominated

Quick Thought #1: Rowbury Ran A Tiny Bit Slower This Year Than Last But She’s Happy With The Way Things Are Going

While Rowbury’s winning time last year was a tiny bit faster last year (4:24.32 versus 4:24.39), she’s happy with the way things are headed this year. Last year, she had opened up at 4:22.66 and then blew up and ran 4:24.32 at Millrose. This year, she opened up at 4:26.01 and is getting faster as the season goes along, down to 4:24.39.

Rowbury thinks she still needs to learn how to push the pace when she’s well clear of the field, which was the case for most of the second half of the race this afternoon. In general though, she was upbeat as she says her training is going marginally better than last year.

“If I feel like my training is better than last year, last all I can really hope for,” said Rowbury after the race.

Quick Thought #2: Kerri Gallagher allowed herself to dream briefly of victory but was very pleased with her four-second PR

“When I was visualizing a perfect race in the weeks leading up to this, I said maybe Shannon will be coming back to me, maybe whoever’s in front of me will be coming back to me so for a split second I thought that was happening but she stayed strong,” Gallagher said. “I just knew I needed to keep fighting through the line because who the heck knows what’s going on [behind me].”

Gallagher, who is coached by Matt Centrowitz, Sr., in Washington, D.C., added that her main goal was to come out and compete today and she certainly accomplished that. She’s worked on improving her strength and tactics this indoor season and the proof is in her results: an 8:56.52 3k win on a flat track at Camel City on January 30 and tonight’s runner-up performance. Gallagher said that she’s going to run the 3,000 at USA Indoors as she’s been focused on mileage and strength this indoor season.

 Quick Thought #3: Might Morgan Uceny Be A Factor On the US Scene in 2016?

The former World #1 has struggled mightily since 2012. 4:27.99 for 5th is far from head turning for a former world #1 but it’s a step in a right direction for Uceny who has finally been healthy for a while now.

Uceny did beat both Katie Mackey and Alexa Efraimson tonight, and both of them ran 4:03 for 1500 last year. Speaking of Efraimson, she already was #2 on the US junior list in the mile at 4:32.15 but this was a big mile pb for her. The US junior record holder in the mile is Mary Cain is 4:24.11.

Women’s 800: Ajee Wilson Comes Back on Brenda Martinez and Nearly Breaks 2:00

Ajee Wilson edged Brenda Martinez in a very high quality women’s 800 as Wilson won in 2:00.09 to Martinez’s 2:00.14. Martinez made a big move to the lead on the third lap that nearly gave her the victory but Wilson closed the best (29.66 to Martinez’s 30.11). Her 2:00.09 is the world leader.

Former NCAA champ Laura Roesler’s resurgent 2016 campaign continued as she was third in 2:00.49 with 2015 NCAA champ Raevyn Rogers fourth in a new NCAA leader of 2:00.90.

Place Athlete Time
1 Ajee’ Wilson
2 Brenda Martinez
new balance
3 Laura Roesler
4 Raevyn Rogers
University of Oregon
5 Lynsey Sharp
6 Phoebe Wright
7 Natoya Goule
DNF Latosha Wallace
Ajee Wilson Battle Brenda Ajee Wilson Battle Brenda

Quick Thought #1: Ajee Wilson is officially back.

We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to talk to Ajee after the race. Wilson is without a doubt one of America’s best talents but the 21-year old missed the second half of 2015 with injury. Any fears she wouldn’t recover to her old form are gone now.

Check out the progression of her races this year.


She keeps getting faster and faster.

Quick Thought #2: Laura Roesler keeps rolling

Speaking of Progression, this his how Roesler has raced this year. Each time she toes the line, she too gets faster.


Roesler said that the purpose of this indoor season was to get some races under her belt and rediscover that racing feeling after an injury-shortened 2015 (she didn’t race after March). Last year, she suffered a partial (20%) tear of her Achilles, which was tough for her to deal with, especially because she was in her first year as a professional. In her frustration, Roesler tried to come back to early, only to endure more setbacks. Now Roesler is back to her old fitness, but she said more importantly she’s back mentally as well.

But Roesler said she never doubted her decision to join coach Rose Monday in San Antonio, saying, “I moved because I wanted to move. You can’t look back.”

Quick Thought #3: Martinez Is Doing Well Early in 2016

Martinez, obviously was disappointed she didn’t win, but feels she’s in great shape given her time tonight and her 4:04 1500 last week in Boston. Wilson appeared to stumble on the final backstretch and without that she might have won today.

Men’s 800: Duane Solomon Wins

Duane Solomon won a thrilling battle with Penn State’s Brannon Kidder as he won in 1:47.52 to Kidder’s 1:47.59. This race was Duane’s last of the indoor season. He said he initially was considering doing USA and World Indoors but wants to focus on getting ready for Rio.

We bumped into Penn State coach John Gondak after the race and Gondak said Kidder shouldn’t have tried to pass Solomon on the final turn (they ran side by side the entire last turn) and just waited for the stretch, but overall he thought it was a great race for Kidder. They came to Millrose as Gondak wanted him to practice racing. Most collegiate races these days are just focused on times and he thought it was great that Kidder got bumped around and could focus on competing. He thought it was good that Kidder lost as it will “make him hungry.”

Place Athlete Time
1 Duane Solomon
2 Brannon Kidder
Penn State
3 Alex Amankwah
4 Sean Obinwa
5 Noah Kauppila
Princeton University
6 Andrew Dawson
7 Julius Mutekanga
CPTC New Balance
8 Garrett O’Toole
Princeton University

Post-Race Interview With Kidder

Post-Race Interview with Solomon





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