June 7, 2017
EUGENE, Ore. — Almost six miles of running in Thursday’s 10,000-meter final at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships had done nothing to separate the lead trio of Charlotte Taylor of the University of San Francisco, Alice Wright of New Mexico and Sharon Lokedi of Kansas. That all changed on the final lap however, as Taylor burst to the lead just after the bell and sprinted her way to become the first University of San Francisco’s athlete to win an NCAA track & field title, closing out a spectacular 32:38.57 victory with a 68.09 last 400.
Wright, the New Mexico junior who finished second a year ago to Arkansas’ Dominique Scott, had to settle for runner-up honors once again in 32:42.64 after leading 12 laps of the race, while Lokedi of Kansas took third in 32:46.10. Notre Dame’s Anna Rohrer, the NCAA leader and pre-race favorite, could only manage 16th place as she revealed after the race she has been dealing with a herniated disc for the last two months.
Rohrer gave it a brave effort and led during the early stages, but she could not create the same separation as in the indoor 5,000 (where she was 3rd). Once Wright took over just before three miles and dropped the pace, Rohrer’s legs could not go any faster and she would steadily fade down the field. Up front, a breakaway group quickly formed, and though Montana State’s Alyssa Snyder would run with them for a mile, Taylor and Lokedi were the only women who could hold on to Wright’s steady string of 78’s and 79’s. By 8k (26:17.16), those three were well under 33:00 pace and well clear of the field.
Then it became a waiting game. Could Wright drop Taylor and Lokedi before the bell? And if not, did she have anything left for a kick?
The answers to those two questions were: “no” and “not enough.”
Though Wright did drop the pace slightly over the final mile, she couldn’t run faster than a 78 and that wasn’t going to be enough to drop the others. That meant that it would come down to the final 400, and there was no question who was best over that span as Taylor squeezed by Wright on the inside just before the bell and opened up a gap of 10 meters by the end of the first turn. Though Wright did her best to stem the bleeding, she could not do enough as Taylor was simply too good over the final lap, producing the only sub-70 lap by any athlete in the entire race (68.09). Wright was second again, making it a 1-2 finish for Brits (coupled with Marc Scott’s win in the men’s race last night, Brits swept the 10k in Eugene) as Lokedi took third, moving up three places from last year.
Analysis and interviews below results.
|1||Charlotte TAYLOR||SR||San Francisco||32:38.57|
|2||Alice WRIGHT||JR||New Mexico||32:42.64|
|4||Alyssa SNYDER||SO||Montana State||32:58.31|
|6||Regan ROME||JR||William and Mary||33:06.03|
|10||Jillian HUNSBERGER||SO||Penn State||33:29.40|
|15||Eden MEYER||JR||North Florida||33:54.58|
|16||Anna ROHRER||FR||Notre Dame||33:56.64|
|18||Rachel WALNY||SO||Bowling Green||34:00.61|
|19||Annie BOTHMA||FR||Coastal Carolina||34:13.77|
|20||Jocelyn CARO||SR||Texas Tech||34:16.15|
|21||Jordann MCDERMITT||JR||Eastern Michigan||34:17.22|
Quick Take #1: Charlotte Taylor makes history for San Francisco
Taylor led the Dons to an unexpected sixth-place finish at NCAA XC in the fall and made more history tonight by becoming USF’s first NCAA track & field champion. She felt that the race suited her well as it was fast enough to burn off the pretenders (Taylor had the #2 time in the field, behind the hobbled Rohrer) but slow enough to allow her to use her kick.
Surprisingly, Taylor didn’t qualify for NCAAs in the 5k despite running the fastest time in the country this year (15:29) but she bounced back from that disappointment at regionals to win tonight. Taylor said that she felt so strong that she was getting anxious waiting to make her move.
“We talked about just being patient [before the race],” Taylor said. “I was feeling so good that that was difficult at stages. I didn’t know when I should make my move but I stuck to the plan and it paid off.”
This was a big win for USF as before tonight, the Dons had only ever had one All-American in track & field — Jana Soethout in the 10k in 2014 was 8th.
Taylor does have the World Champs standard, but she didn’t run the British Trials, so she missed out on automatic selection for Worlds. But right now, only the winner of that race, Beth Potter, has been selected. Taylor is one of five other Brits with the time competing for two spots, so she’ll have to see if she gets lucky — if she even wants to run. She said that she hasn’t decided yet about whether she’ll keep racing this summer.
Quick Take #2: Unlike last year, Alice Wright was not happy to finish second
Wright was pleased to take second as a sophomore last year to Dominique Scott, but with Scott graduating, she was hoping to take her place as champion in 2017 and that didn’t happen. Wright employed the same tactics as last year, forcing the pace, and it looked to be working even better than in 2016. Last year, she hit 8k in 26:26 and there were eight women in the lead pack; this year, she came through in 26:17 but there were only two women directly behind her.
Unfortunately for Wright, the end result was the same, but once again, the champion is graduating. Wright will have one more crack at the win in 2018, but may have to deal with a healthy Anna Rohrer in that one.
Wright and Taylor are both Brits, and they’ve been racing each other for years as Wright recalled a matchup between the two back in the UK in 2010. Taylor also said they were roommates at last year’s Euro XC champs, where they helped Great Britain to team gold in the U23 race (Wright was 3rd, Taylor 4th).
Sharon Lokedi Contends for Win, Settles for PR and 3rd
Sharon Lokedi has had success at NCAAs before (sixth at NCAAs indoor and outdoors last year), but never contended for a win like she did today. She ended up coming up short of the win, but getting a nice consolation prize a PR in 32:46.10 (32:49 from last year was her old PR).
She said, “I’m happy. So pleased. It’s my pr. It’s what I hoped for [a good run], even though it’s not what I wanted [the win].”
Lokedi now has some free-time in Eugene to spend with her boyfriend, Edward Cheserek, the Oregon star.
Dreams Become Reality: Alyssa Snyder Runs Back to Back 5000m PRs to place 4th
A big props to Alyssa Snyder of Montana State, who came in with a 16:32.56 5000m PR and ended up running 32:58.31 for 4th in the 10,000m.
We didn’t get Alyssa’s 5k split but extrapolating from her 4800m (15:51.32) and 5200m (17:08.52) splits, she likely hit 5000 at 16:29.9 which means she ran back-to-back 5000m prs.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Snyder has improved a ton as she ran 17:10 and 37:22 last year.
Discussion of Alyssa’s amazing run here.
— MSUXCTrack (@MSUXCTrack) June 9, 2017
Anna Rohrer, The Bravest 16th Place Finisher
Rohrer, the two-time Foot Locker national high school XC champion who came in with the fastest time in the nation (the 31:58.99 she ran at Stanford Invite), was most definitely the bravest finisher today as she revealed after the race she’s been dealing with a herniated disc for much of the outdoor season.
Pausing a few times to hold back tears in the mixed zone, Rohrer said she’s had two epidurals to help her relieve the back pain, and that her back has been feeling better lately, but she has trouble running fast as her circulation has suffered and she “can’t move my legs as well.”
Once Rohrer’s doctors told her she would not make her back worse by running, she decided to try to run at nationals. She said her attitude was “I’m going to here. I’m going to hope for the best. I’m going to try,” adding “I know I’m in good enough shape to run up there but my body won’t let me.”
Eleven laps into today’s race, Rohrer said, “It was just a struggle to pick up my legs. I felt like I was going to fall.” Her coach told her she could drop out, but she persevered on. “I am happy that I went ahead and finished because I’m not a person to ever give up,” she said after fighting back tears.
Now Rohrer’s body needs some rest so her body can heal. She will be allowed to cross train, but won’t be able to run. Rohrer said she’s “Looking forward to resting up so I can prove what I’m capable of during cross-country.”