June 9, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. — Dominique Scott had to wait for five years at Arkansas to win her first NCAA outdoor title. So she didn’t mind waiting another 29 minutes and two seconds tonight — the time it took to run the first 23 laps of the 10,000-meter final at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
But once Scott took the lead with two laps remaining, all that desire came pouring out onto the track. The senior from South Africa separated immediately from the seven other women in the lead pack; within 200 meters, she had put 30m on the field and everyone else was racing for second. So dominant were her final 800 meters (2:16.71) that she even had time to blow husband Cameron Efurd a kiss with 100 meters to go before throwing her arms up in celebration at the finish line, winning in a time of 32:35.69.
Scott will go for NCAA outdoor title #2 in Saturday’s 5,000 final and she enters as the heavy, heavy favorite based on tonight’s performance. Consider: Scott came within eight seconds of the 28-year-old meet record and she didn’t really start racing until two laps to go. New Mexico’s Alice Wright, who led the first 20 laps of the race, prevailed in a tight battle for second in 32:46.99, 11 seconds back of Scott.
Scott’s win along with teammate Alexis Week’s winning the pole vault got the Razorbacks off to a great start in the battle for the team title. (The other Thursday action is recapped here)
New Mexico’s Alice Wright entered the race with the #3 pb (32:36.11) and she made her intentions to create an honest pace clear within three laps, leading the field through 800m in 2:44 before dropping a 77.44 for lap number three. From there, Wright was a metronome, running 78’s and 79’s for the next 17 laps until the she reached 8 kilometers in 26:26. At that point, the scoring places had been decided as eight women had broken away from the rest of the field: Wright, Scott, Air Force’s Hannah Everson, Portland’s Lauren LaRocco, Tennessee’s Chelsea Blaase, Kansas’ Sharon Lokedi, Iona’s Tara Jameson and Boise State’s Brenna Peloquin. Wright led for another lap and a half before Peloquin took over with 1400 to go, but within 200 meters, she had been passed by Jameson. Scott was quick to counter the move and sat right behind Jameson, who dropped the pace (77 and 76 for the next two laps). But Jameson’s slight increase in tempo did nothing to shake the pack; it was not until Scott’s rapid acceleration with two laps to go that anyone dropped off, and it happened all at once as she ran a 68 for her penultimate lap while everyone else ran a 76 (or 77 in the case of Jameson and Peloquin, who fell off the back).
Scott essentially got to run a victory lap during the race as she was totally clear of the field at the bell. She took the time to wave to the crowd on the homestretch before breaking into a smile just before the finish line. The real race was for second, and it was a tight one. Blaase, the #2 on paper (32:08.39 sb) behind Scott (31:56.84 sb) coming in, had a slight gap (.44 of a second) on the chasers at the bell, but by 200 to go, they had reeled her in and it was a five-woman fight for second between Blaase, Wright, Everson, LaRocco and Lokedi. Wright had the lead coming into the final turn and she dug deep to hold off Everson and LaRocco for a well-deserved second place. Everson was third (32:47.25) and LaRocco fourth (32:47.30), both in massive PRs, as Blaase had to settle for fifth.
Results and analysis appear below.
Quick Take #1: Dominique Scott took her time to enjoy this one
Scott, the 2015 NCAA indoor 3k champ, said she didn’t have a predetermined spot to make her move. She said that she was feeling so at comfortable out there that she felt as if she could have gone at any time, but finally pulled the trigger with 800 to go. Scott said it was actually relieving to finally take the lead.
“It’s so easy once I get to two laps to go, it’s just those 23 laps before that are kind of annoying,” Scott said. “You have to wait such a long time.”
In case there was any doubt that Scott was relaxed during the first 23 laps, she revealed that she was listening to the PA system during the race and heard the announcer say teammate Lexi Weeks had won the pole vault and another teammate, Taliyah Brooks, was competing in the long jump. The trio combined for 26 points, giving Arkansas a 10-point lead on Texas A&M entering the final day of the competition on Saturday.
Scott acknowledged that several of the top contenders (Molly Seidel, Allie Ostrander) were out injured today, one reason why she was able to move from second last year to a dominating first (Michigan’s Erin Finn, who ran 31:51 this spring, beating Scott by five seconds in the process, is redshirting). But Scott also said that the spring has been less stressful than last fall, when she was juggling her cross country season with planning a wedding (she wed Efurd, a former Arkansas runner, in December).
Quick Take #2: New Mexico’s Alice Wright surprised herself by outkicking everyone else for second
Wright, who was 5th at NCAA XC, looked at the start list before the race and thought that her best chance to place highly was to make it quick, and she did just that, clicking off 78’s and 79’s like clockwork. She snuck a few peeks at the video board during the latter stages of the race, and was slightly unnerved when she saw the pack behind her was still relatively large.
“I was like, ‘Damn, these girls aren’t falling off at all,’” Wright said.
But Wright knew if she was to employ her front-running strategy, she had to stay mentally strong, and was prepared for someone — likely Scott — to make a hard move late in the race. Wright knew that even if she got dropped, she had to stay composed and she did that, hanging tough until the final 200, when she closed best of everyone outside of Scott to earn second. Wright didn’t expect to emerge on top in a kick, but her fierce desire carried her through.
“I just wanted it so badly in that last 150,” Wright said. “I just thought to myself, ‘Alice you train so hard for this. It means everything to me. You just gotta go for it and give it everything.’”
Wright, who still has two years left at New Mexico, wants to keep racing this summer. A native of Worcester, England, Wright’s aim is to run at the European Championships in Amsterdam next month but her time is one second off the British standard for selection. She’s hoping they make an exception.
Good luck, Alice. British Athletics doesn’t have a reputation as the most forgiving when it comes to picking national teams.
Quick Take #3: Eight of the top 11 finishers set PRs, some by massive margins
Wright’s work driving the pace affected the entire field and the result was a lot of PRs tonight. The eight women in the top 11 who PR’d are listed below:
|Name||School||Place||Old PR||New PR||Difference|
|Hannah Everson||Air Force||3rd||33:05||32:47||18 seconds|
|Lauren LaRocco||Portland||4th||33:15||32:47||28 seconds|
|Sharon Lokedi||Kansas||6th||33:10||32:49||21 seconds|
|Tara Jameson||Iona||7th||33:38||32:52||46 seconds|
|Brenna Peloquin||Boise St.||8th||33:03||32:58||5 seconds|
|Cleo Boyd||Virginia||9th||34:25||33:11||1 min, 14 secs|
|Kinsey Gomez||Idaho||10th||33:23||33:18||5 seconds|
|Rachele Schulist||Mich. St.||11th||34:12||33:24||48 seconds|
Portland’s Lauren LaRocco after her 28 second pr for 4th