Women’s 5000 Heats: The Favorites Advance As Lauren Paquette and Gabriele Grunewald Go Home

by LetsRun.com
July 7, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — Two heats of the women’s 5,000 were run tonight at the 2016 US Olympic Track and Field Trials to eliminate 7 women (Jessica Tonn was a late scratch). The big names all advanced with ease, though there were a few notable casualties. Lauren Paquette (#5 in the U.S. this year at 15:14) was the first woman out of the final as Jessica Tebo finished just under a second in front of her in heat 1. Gabriele Grunewald (#7 in the U.S. this year at 15:19) only needed to finish 10th in her 12-person but didn’t look good at all. She finished 11th in heat 2 and was eliminated.

The top three women from Saturday’s 10k doubled back today but none committed 100% to whether they’d run the 5k in Rio (should they qualify), though Molly Huddle did say that she would likely only do the 10k at the Olympics. So it’s possible we may not know the Olympic 5,000 team until some time after Sunday’s final.


Jessica Tebo shot to the lead in the early going and brought the field through 400 in a comfortable 74.6. Slowing down to hit 1000 in 3:12.45, the entire field was still in contention, with Laura Thweatt right on her shoulder. Kim Conley was content to hang in the very back as they hit 1600 in 5:08.2.

By halfway, Conley began to gradually work her way up the field. At 3K, Thweatt took the lead, crossing in 9:37.98. The entire group remained in contention.

Thweatt, with Tebo still up front, worked together to string together 75-, 75-, and 74-second laps and began to shed people from the pack.  

It was with 800 to go, that things really picked up. Conley surged to the front with a 69.50 lap and Nicole Tully, Kellyn Taylor, Emily Infeld, and Sara Hall were able to hang right in. Conley, fresh off the disappointment of her shoe malfunction in the 10K, looked very strong in closing her final 1600 in 4:46.11 to win in 15:40.04.

1 (1)

Kim Conley

New Balance

15:40.04 Q 7
2 (2)

Kellyn Taylor


15:40.15Q 3
3 (3)

Nicole Tully

Hoka One One / NYAC

15:40.27Q 12
4 (4)

Emily Infeld

Nike Bowerman TC

15:40.35Q 9
5 (5)

Sara Hall


15:42.70Q 10
6 (6)

Jessica Tebo


15:43.64Q 2
7 (7)

Lauren Paquette


15:44.57 11
8 (8)

Laura Thweatt

Saucony / Boulder TC

15:50.60 5
9 (9)

Natosha Rogers

New Balance

15:54.27 6
10 (10)

Sarah Pagano

Boston Athletic Association

16:06.42 4
11 (11)

Angela Bizzarri

Brooks / BROOKS Beasts TC

16:21.05 1

QT: Defending U.S. champ Nicole Tully said that 2016 has been different now that she’s a full-time 5k runner

When Tully won USAs last year, it was just the second 5,000 of her career; she had trained as a 1500 runner and “cobbled together 5k training” over the last three months of the season. Now she feels a lot stronger and said that she’s been surprising herself with how well workouts have been going recently.

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Tully has been hit or miss this spring — she ran 15:04 at Payton Jordan, #2 among Americans this year outdoors, but also bombed with a 16:18 at Pre. Tully wasn’t too down on that result. She explained that, in her 15 years of running, she’s learned sometimes her body just says “screw you” in a race and Pre was one of those days.

QT: Emily Infeld undecided on whether she’ll do 5k in Rio (if she qualifies); her trip back to Park City after the 10k helped keep her focus

Even though the 5k prelims didn’t eliminate many athletes, Infeld was pleased to run it as it gave her a chance to work on racing tactics — something she hasn’t had a chance to do much this year as she’s been injured.

Infeld called her experience after making the Olympic team in the 10k on Saturday a “whirlwind” as she flew out to Park City the next day to return to altitude. Despite the additional travel, Infeld felt it was worth it.

“It kind of got me focused on the race again and just be able to remove myself from here a bit. Just because there’s a lot going on, a lot of excitement. Probably better to stay out of that a little bit while I’m still in race mode.”

QT Sara Hall is Enjoying Trials, Being a Mom, and Said Husband Ryan Hall “Can Still Throwdown” As He Did a 5k on the Track in Sub 16 

More coming on this but Hall did a sub 16 on the track today and will do another one on Sunday.

Jessica Tebo Post-Race

Nicole Tully Post-Race

Kim Conley Post-Race

Shelby Houlihan

Sara Hall


The early going in heat two was a bit more honest. Kaitlin Gregg Goodman hit 400 in 73.6 and kept things honest through 1000 in 3:04.43, nearly ten seconds up on heat 1.

Right on her heels were Jordan Hasay, Tara Welling, Molly Huddle and Shelby Houlihan.  Marielle Hall, Katie Mackey and Abbey D’Agostino were content to hang further back in the pack.

At halfway, Huddle moved to the front as the pace had steadily declined, slowing each of the previous three laps.

Huddle was in clear control at 3K in 9:26.79. The pace remained steady and only Goodman, the early leader, was unable to stay with the lead pack.

With three to go, Huddle and Hasay had gapped the field by two steps, with Welling and Hall leading eight other chasers.

And at 4K, Huddle was very much in command, in 12:29.27, a gap already growing. With two to go, Huddle had a 30-meter lead over Hasay, D’Agostino, Hall, Mackey, Allie Ostrander, Welling, and Houlihan.

With a lap to go, Mackey made a move to bridge the distance to Huddle, bringing Ostradner, Houlihan, and Hall with her. Her move made the final margin of victory appear smaller than it actually was. D’Agostino and Hasay, certain in the knowledge that they would advance on time, came in more relaxed. In the end, all four time qualifiers came from the second heat.

Huddle won in 15:26.33 to win over Mackey by less than half a second, but her control over the field was significantly greater than that.

D’Agostino and Hasay let the top five gap them given the fast pace; it wasn’t necessary to stay with them to advance. But was that strategic or an indication of a lack of capability?

1 (1)

Molly Huddle


15:26.33 Q 3
2 (2)

Katie Mackey

Brooks / BROOKS Beasts TC

15:26.64Q 11
3 (3)

Shelby Houlihan

Nike Bowerman TC

15:26.91 Q 2
4 (4)

Allie Ostrander

Boise St.

15:27.13 Q 9
5 (5)

Marielle Hall


15:27.67Q 6
6 (6)

Abbey DAgostino

New Balance / NB Boston

15:29.66Q 10
7 (7)

Tara Welling

Skechers Performance / High Perf West

15:33.34 8
8 (8)

Rochelle Kanuho


15:33.80 12
9 (9)

Jordan Hasay

Nike Oregon Project

15:34.50 1
10 (10)

Alisha Williams

adidas Rocky Mountain Elite

15:39.32 4
11 (20)

Gabriele Grunewald


15:58.72 5
12 (22)

Kaitlin Gregg Goodman

Strava TC

16:07.92 7

QT: Molly Huddle probably won’t run the 5,000 in Rio

QT: Marielle Hall did not commit to whether she would run the 5k in Rio should she qualify

Hall said that she’s treating the second week of the Trials as a “blank slate” and that she’s not thinking about anything else other than finishing top three right now in Sunday’s final. Hall also said that the mood in her room the night she made the team in the 10,000 was “somber” as her roommate — Ajee Wilson — had to run the 800 final the next day. It was only once Wilson made the team that she was able to get really excited as it meant a lot to be able to go to Rio with her training partner.

QT: First Three Across The Line Might Not Mean Much In The Final

It is the goal of USATF to have fans watching the meet here in Eugene and on TV to know who the Olympic team is when the race is over. That’s the beauty of the US’s “first three past the post” system and we fully support it. However, that may be difficult to achieve in the women’s 5,000 this year as three of the women with the best chance of finishing in the top 3 are non-committal about running the 5K in Rio. Huddle is almost a lock to win, but says she probably won’t race the 5000 in Rio and with Infeld and Hall undecided about doubling, the potential is there for us not to know any of the US women’s 5000 team when we leave the stadium on Sunday.

QT: A philosophical Abbey D’Agostino wanted to try to get by “cheaply”

D’Agostino who got “dinged” up during her Olympic buildup and wasn’t able to race until June, was the 6th and final auto qualifier in heat #2.

“I had a strong base from the winter and late fall – that doesn’t go away. I had to just be confident in that,” said D’Agostino, who was a bit philosophical about things. “The plan is not always mine. I just have to roll with it. That’s the only thing I can control. I just wanted to go out there with gratitude and race out of love and not fear because of what happened this spring.”

The top five people in D’Agostino’s heat were well clear of her and we asked her if that hurt her confidence or if she was just doing the bare minimum to get by.

“I was definitely focused on conserving. I don’t know if I’ve ever looked behind in a race before but I did today,” said D’Agostino, who said that her coach Mark Coogan told her to “try to just get by cheaply.”

QT Allie Ostrander Surprised Herself on Comeback from Stress Fracture

The Boise State super frosh has only been running for the last 5 weeks after suffering a stress fracture but says she surprised herself with how well she felt today. Now it’s onto the final where she’ll face the pros again for the 3rd time in her career. Allie said she had to remind herself when she looked to her left and right that the stars she were racing were just people too.

QT: Gabe Grunewald from Bombing Out in 5000 to Advance in the 1500 in Span of 2 Hours
Gabe Grunewald was the only person in heat #2 of the women’s 5k not to advance running 15:52.

Two hours later she was entered in heat #3 of the 1500 as a backup, and with nothing to lose she ran4:18.07 to nab an automatic qualifying spot for the final. It was the first 1500m she had finished all year.

What accounted for the amazing transformation?

Some bars and food from the local grocery story in the two hours between races, according to Grunewald. Grunewald said her fitness is good, but she just felt out of energy in the 5000 saying, “With 5 laps to go the general energy was leaving my body. I felt hypoglycemic….I’m really happy to die another day. I’m going to come out tomorrow ready to make that final (in the 1500)”.

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