Women’s 10K: Molly Huddle Three-Peats as Shalane Flanagan Misses Worlds for the First Time Since 2003
June 22, 2017
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Three-peat.
American 10,000 record holder Molly Huddle used a 4:41 final 1600 and 2:14 final 800 (65 flat last 400) to pull away and win the women’s 10,000 tonight at the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships – her third straight title in the 10,000 – in 31:19.86 as Emily Infeld, the bronze medalist at Worlds in 2015 was second in 31:22.67 and Emily Sisson, Huddle’s training partner, made her first Worlds team in 31:25.64.
The race was run in warm conditions (it was 88 degrees at the start) but the pace was fairly honest from the gun thanks to Shalane Flanagan, who went to the front on the first lap and didn’t give up at least a share of the lead until 4 laps remained when Huddle (Flanagan had the outright lead for the first 16 laps and then basically a co-led with Huddle until four remained) started her push for home. Huddle gapped Flanagan, Infeld and Sisson on the penultimate lap and the question became who would finish second and third. In the end, the 35-year-old Flanagan wasn’t able to find the speed needed to finish top three but she should be very proud of her fourth-place showing (31:31.12.).
Natosha Rogers, who stayed with the leaders until five laps remained, ended up fifth in 31:54.62. Michigan’s Erin Finn, who didn’t race at all during the NCAA season, ran an incredibly well-measured race all alone. Somehow, she managed to run a slight negative split of 32:00.46 to finish sixth.
Two-time Olympian Kim Conley, the 2014 champion, was the only other woman to run with the leaders but she fell off the pace before halfway and eventually dropped out to conserve her energy for tomorrow’s 5,000.
Results (lap-by-lap splits)
Quick Take: Molly Huddle makes it look easy, looking for the medal stand in London
Huddle closed in 65 seconds today to make the win look easy. She said she felt better on the final lap tonight than at the Trials last year when she closed in 68.
Now she and training partner Sisson turn their preparations to getting ready for Worlds with some track races in Europe, but up first will be Friday’s 5,000m final assuming she wakes up feeling well.
Huddle said, “This is my last year on the track and it’s feasible to try and the double at Worlds so I want to try and do it.”
At Worlds Huddle’s focus will be on trying to get on the elusive medal stand. In 2015, she had a bronze medal locked up, but celebrated too soon and was passed at the line by Emily Infeld. Huddle can’t control what others do at Worlds, but can take care of herself saying she’ll try and “just get in PR shape and line up again and try and run smart and see what happens.”
Quick Take: After another imperfect spring, Emily Infeld is going back to Worlds and looking to run fast this summer
Infeld, who, in case you forgot, is the reigning bronze medalist at Worlds, is a huge talent and made the U.S. team in 2015 (where she won bronze) and 2016 despite having to overcome injuries before or during those seasons. Once again, Infeld was banged up this spring as she rolled her ankle and battled a nagging hip issue and she and coach Jerry Schumacher chose not to risk it by throwing her in any races (though she did do some work as a pacer at Payton Jordan).
Infeld says that she’s feeling healthy now and looking forward to getting out there a few more times between now and London.
“I really wanna race this summer!” Infeld said. “So I think I’m gonna do a few races after this, which I am super-psyched about. I feel like the last few years I’ve done like two, three track races. It’s been a bummer. I love racing.”
Quick Take: Emily Sisson makes her first Worlds team
To depose a legend like Flanagan, you’ve got to be pretty good yourself and Sisson has really flourished in her second full season as a professional. It helps that she has continuity in coach Ray Treacy, who’s been mentoring her since her days at Providence College, and a terrific training partner in Huddle. In years past, Huddle was so far ahead of Sisson that they typically wouldn’t run together in workouts, but Sisson has closed the gap this year.
Quick Take: Shalane Flanagan’s 13-year streak snapped, says this was the least-prepared she’d ever been for a race
Shalane Flanagan made every single U.S. Olympic/World Championship team from 2004 through 2016, a truly remarkable streak that finally came to an end tonight. Flanagan did her best to sort out the wheat from the chaff during the race, but in the end she needed to drop one more person and couldn’t do it.
“I’m really proud of that and I was hoping I wouldn’t end the streak tonight, but I knew there was a possibility,” Flanagan said. “I am 35, I’m turning 36 July 8. It’s inevitable, right? But it makes me appreciate when I do make those teams, for sure. I kind of had started to take them for granted…I would go into the race not worrying about making the team, I’d be worrying about winning. And that’s a different mindset. Tonight, third was going to be a phenomenal feeling.”
Flanagan also said that this was the least-prepared she’d ever been for a race as she had only about a month and a half of workouts under her belt following the stress fracture that derailed her winter/spring. She was hoping that her last dozen years of mostly uninterrupted training would be enough to counteract that, but it was not.
Quick Take: Natosha Rogers is back in the big leagues, but she’s not settling for fifth
Rogers was second in the Olympic Trials 10,000 in 2012 but didn’t run USAs the next three years and last year was only 13th and never in contention to make the team. This year, she hung around until the final two kilometers, but she said she was not happy with just contending as she really wanted to qualify for Worlds.
Rogers said that the early pace from the gun caught her by surprise as she wasn’t prepared to run that fast in the early stages of the race. She will be back tomorrow in the 5k, where she has the top time by an American this year outdoors.