Yet Another USATF Controversy? Might Galen Rupp Have To Qualify For World Indoors Out Of The Slow Heat At USA Indoors?

February 23, 2016

When we were at the 2016 NYRR Millrose Games over the weekend, a top professional coach approached us as he was worried there yet again may be a controversy at a USATF Championship. In the past two decades, there have been several controversies at U.S. championships related to who gets in the meet and occasionally on who runs in what heat (1996 example here, 2008 example here, 2012 example here) as USATF’s flexible entry standards often fail to clearly explain who is going to get into the championships and how they will be seeded.

Prepare yourself for another potential one in 2016.

At USA Indoors, the 1500 and 3000 are straight finals as it’s only a two-day meet and USATF wants to make it easy for people to double. The coach was worried that there yet again might be an ‘A’ and ‘B’ final in the 1500 if USATF lets everyone who ran under the 1500 or 3000 standards into the championships instead of limiting the fields to 12 for the 1500 and 16 for the 3000 – the listed field caps on the USATF qualifying page. The coach told us an early version of the USA Indoor schedule listed an ‘A’ and ‘B’ final for a few races.

We reached out to USATF to ask if this indeed was the case. We asked them specifically about the 1500 – this coach’s concern – as it would be ridiculous if the ‘B’ heat went fast, the ‘A’ heat goes slow and the winner of the ‘A’ heat doesn’t get to go to Worlds.

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USATF spokesperson Jill Geer confirmed that USATF would indeed run an A and B final:

“At the present time, if [the] field size is large, the 1500 would be a timed, seeded final with A and B races based on seed time. The driver behind is that it is a twoday meet, whereas 1500 rounds typically have a rest day between. The timed final further still maintains the ability for athletes to double in the 1500 and 3000.

“This may be a moot point, as neither field is large as of today.”

Geer is correct when talking about the 1500, which is what we asked about. On the men’s side, we took a look at the number of men under the 1500/mile qualifying standard of 3:40.20/3:57.50 (marks must be achieved between November 14, 2015 and February 28, 2016) and it’s not very large once you take out the collegians who won’t run the meet given the fact the NCAA Championships are the same weekend.

Seed Time Athlete Comment
1 03:50.63 Matthew Centrowitz
2 03:53.16 Robby Andrews
3 03:53.87 Cory Leslie
4 03:55.10 Garrett Heath
5 03:56.05 Cristian Soratos
03:56.36 Blake Haney collegian
6 03:56.57 Johnny Gregorek
03:57.03 Thomas Awad collegian
3:57.11 OT Clayton Murphy collegian
7 03:57.29 Sam Penzenstadler
8 03:57.36 Daniel Winn
3:57.38 OT David Elliott collegian
3:57.46 OT Jacob Burcham  collegian
9 03:39.8 Andrew Wheating

While our initial concern was the 1500, we started doing the same research for the 3000 and then it hit us, “What about Galen Rupp?”

Might Galen's Marathon Training End Up Making Him Run Out Of The Slow Heat at USAs? Might Galen’s Marathon Training End Up Making Him Run Out Of The Slow Heat at USAs? *2016 Olympic Trials Photos

Rupp already has the World Indoor qualifying standard for the 3000 as the IAAF grants you that if you ran under 13:10 for 5000 last summer. But that doesn’t count for qualifying for USAs. Remember, Rupp had to run a 3000 in the midst of marathon training to qualify for USA Indoors and he has a very slow qualifying time for the USA Indoor Championships as he only ran 7:57.39.

Rupp is currently only #42 on the US 3000 list for 2016. Luckily for Rupp and USATF, there are 17 collegians on the list ahead of Rupp who are likely to race NCAAs so Rupp moves up to the unofficial #25 seed. But there are 8 collegians ahead of Rupp in terms of 2016 seasonal best times who are unlikely to make the NCAA meet and thus might want to run USAs instead. Now many, possibly all, of the collegians may not race at USAs, but if you look only at pros, Rupp is still already #17 in the US right now. Thus if everyone declares for the 3000 or if a couple of collegians decide to run USAs, Rupp could theoretically be in the slow heat at USAs — assuming USATF adheres to their field size of 16.

Top 3000 USA Times For 2016

Seed Time Athlete Comment
1 07:38.82 Ryan Hill
2 07:38.85 Hassan Mead
3 07:39.43 Eric Jenkins
4 07:40.10 Evan Jager
5 07:40.74 Matthew Centrowitz  Might run 1500
6 07:42.33 Andy Bayer
7 07:43.01 Lopez Lomong
8 07:43.33 Trevor Dunbar
9 07:44.68 Paul Chelimo
10 07:44.96 Ben Blankenship
11 7:46.72 OT Jeff See
12 07:47.18 Donn Cabral
13 07:48.48 Garrett Heath
  7:48.79 OT Sean McGorty Collegian in top 16 for NCAAs.
  07:48.89 Woody Kincaid Collegian in top 16 for NCAAs.
14 7:50.06 OT Grant Fisher Collegian but not in top 16 (performance came as unattached runner; could run on DMR)
  7:50.20 OT Izaic Yorks Collegian in top 16 for NCAAs.
  7:50.60 OT Patrick Corona Collegian in top 16 for NCAAs.
  7:50.96 OT Colby Gilbert Collegian in top 16 for NCAAs.
  7:51.38 OT Jefferson Abbey Collegian in top 16 for NCAAs.
  07:51.77 Ahmed Bile Collegian in top 16 for NCAAs.
15 7:52.39 OT Craig Forys
  7:53.15 OT David Elliott Collegian in top 16 for NCAAs.
  07:53.89 Henry Wynne Collegian in top 16 for NCAAs.
16 7:54.23 OT Reid Buchanan Collegian but not top 16 (#18 in both 3k and 5k)
17 07:54.24 Adam Visokay Collegian but not top 16 (#19 in 3k)
  07:54.26 Luis Vargas Collegian but in top 16 once flat-track conversion is added
  07:54.39 Colin Bennie Collegian is #4 in 5k
  7:54.58 OT Robert Domanic Collegian but likely on DMR team
  7:55.03 OT Mason Ferlic Collegian but likely on DMR team
18 07:55.50 Jake Hurysz
19 7:55.53 OT Dorian Ulrey
  07:55.73 Thomas Curtin Collegian but #2 in 5000
  07:56.04 Willy Fink Collegian but top 16 once flat-track conversion is added
  7:56.06 OT Chad Noelle Collegian but on DMR team
20 7:56.09 OT Nathan Weitz Collegian but not in top 16 for NCAA
21 07:56.75 Martin Hehir Collegian but no indoor eligibility
22 07:57.12 Joey Chapin Collegian but not in top 16 for NCAA
23 7:57.16 OT Troy Fraley Collegian but not in top 16 for NCAA
  07:57.28 Amos Bartelsmeyer Collegian on DMR team
24 07:57.30 Jordan Mann Collegian but not in top 16 for NCAA
25 07:57.39 Galen Rupp

Quick Take #1: There should not be an ‘A’ and ‘B’ final in any event over 400 meters.

USATF should 100% not be contemplating running an ‘A’ and ‘B’ final in any event above 400 meters. You either run rounds or you cap the field sizes (and we think 12 is too large for a 1500 final on an indoor track – 10 would be better).

You’d think they’d have learned from a similar controversy two years ago. They should have done what the NCAA did a few years ago – get rid of qualifying times all together and accept the entrants based on a descending order list.

When we first heard about the potential of a ‘B’ heat, we went to the USATF website and found USATF qualifying standard page and thought that’s actually what they had done. Take a look at it yourself.

Ful list of standards here. Full list of standards here.

The document lists both a ‘qualifying standard’ and ‘field size.’ Notice, the term ‘field size’ is used, not heat size. To us that means you can’t get in unless you hit the qualifying standard and then they’d halt entries once the field size was hit – so basically you’d have a descending order list like the NCAA but with minimum standards (unlike the NCAA which is a pure descending order list).

But wouldn’t Galen Rupp would be screwed? Not in our mind. We have no idea why Galen Rupp even bothered to run a qualifying 3000 race in the middle of marathon training as by our reading of USATF Rule 8 he had an automatic entry into USA Indoors in the 3000 given the fact that he has achieved the World standard in the event. See page 15 here.

That’s the way the document reads to us but USATF says that’s not the case.

Quick Thought #2: It’s a total joke if Galen Rupp has to run out of the slow heat.

We asked USATF to confirm that based on their initial response to us that Galen Rupp could potentially end up in the ‘B’ heat but they haven’t responded.

We don’t think Rupp will end up in the slow heat as a) there may not end up being more than 16 entrants faster than Rupp and b) even if there are, USATF is very good at doing whatever John Chaplin it wants. But we shouldn’t be having these controversies every year (and USATF shouldn’t be allowed to do whatever it wants every year).

USATF should have simply produced a document with no qualifying standards – just one stating they’d accept entrants until the field sizes were hit with the caveat that entrants like Rupp using the more difficult outdoor qualifying times would be considered as ‘auto qualifiers’. But despite having similar controversies in the past, they didn’t, and now they potentially find themselves in a bind as they didn’t properly think this out.

Talk about this article on our messageboard: MB: Unbelievable. Might Galen Rupp have to qualify for World Indoors out of the slow heat at 2016 USA Indoors?

More: LRC List of Americans With the World Standard
*2016 USA Indoor Qualifying Page
*LRC Archives From 2014: Potential disaster at 2014 USA Indoors? Straight 1500 final and there are 22 women, 18 men already in each race

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