Womens 10,000: Who Will Make the US Olympic Team on Saturday?

By LetsRun.com
June 25, 2021

The women’s 10,000 at the 2020 US Olympic Track and Field Trials will take place at 10:00 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. ET) on Saturday. There’s not a lot of time between now and then so let’s get into the preview right away.

The Contenders – Everyone listed but Morley has the 31:25 standard. Those with * have also broken 15:00 for 5000.

Elise Cranny* Nike Bowerman 30:47.42  Kicked to win 10k debut in February. Won the 5000 Trials with 63.73 last 400.
Karissa Schweizer* Nike Bowerman 30:47.99  Only managed 15:00 in 5k at the end of May, but already made team in 5000.
Emily Infeld* Nike Bowerman 31:08.57  2015 Worlds bronze medalist PR’d this year in this event
Ednah Kurgat U.S. Army 31:21.65  2017 NCAA XC champ is competing at her first USAs
Marielle Hall Nike Bowerman 31:21.78  Made the Olympic 10k team in 2016 but has looked terrible of late
Sara Hall ASICS 31:21.90  US #2 all-time in the marathon. Ran 31:21 on May 14. Ran 31:33 on roads in Central Park on June 12
Alicia Monson On Athletics Club NM (31:10.84 2020) Has run pbs at 1500 (4:07) and 5000 (15:07) this year
Kellyn Taylor HOKA NAZ Elite NM (31:15.65 2020) Third at USAs in 2019. 15:12 in March. Ran 5000 heats and only ran 15:40 at Trials.
Emily Sisson* New Balance NM (30:49 2020)  Made Worlds in 2017 and 2019 in this event. Has run 14:55, 14:53 and 14:59 for 5000 this year.
Rachel Schneider* Under Armour NM  Has run 4:04 and 14:52 this year. Made 5000 team.
Stephanie Bruce HOKA NAZ Elite NM (31:24.47 2020)  Ran 15:20 on May 15 in only race of 2021
Natosha Rogers Hansons-Brooks Distance Project NM (31:12.28 2020) Finished 2nd at 2012 Trials ahead of Shalane Flanagan but didn’t get to to go Olympics as she didn’t have the standard. Ran 5000 pb of 15:04.95 on May 15
Makena Morley Asics 31:25.19  Colorado grad making debut at USA outdoors, has PR’d at 5K and 10K this year

This race is a tough one to handicap. There are 11 women with the standard as shown above. You can make a case for all 11 making the team in some form or fashion.

But if we narrow it down, there are only 5 women who have the standard and a sub-15:00 6k pb. They appear in red above.

Two of the women that fit that criteria are the top two seeds and BTC teammates in Elise Cranny and Karissa Schweizer. They’ve already gone 1-2 in the 5000 at this meet and it would be hard to predict against them. Not only do they have the best 10,000 pbs of everyone in the group, they also are the only two who have run under 14:50 for 5000 (Cranny’s pb is 14:48, Schweizer’s pb is 14:26). Moreover, they have the two best 1500 pbs in the field (Cranny’s pb is 4:02 and Schweizer’s is 4:00).

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So they have the best 10,000 pbs in the field  (and best 5000s) and also the best speed. How do they get beat?

What the others can hope for is a) they are a little complacent as they are already on the Olympic team and b) this is going to be run in hot weather. I’ve always said running a long-distance race in extreme heat is almost like a different sport for some people who just aren’t good at it. If you aren’t good in extreme heat, then, it’s going to be tough. Race-time temperatures are expected to be 82 degrees at the start (and rising quickly as it’s expected to rise to 91 at 12 noon) with a dew point of 67 (humidity 60%).

Emily Infeld Your Lone US Distance Medallist from Beijing

The other three sub-15:00 women all can’t be discounted. A BTC 1-2-3 sweep is possible as Emily Infeld is one of the women with the standard and a sub-14:50 5000 pb. Infeld won world bronze in this event in 2015 and has actually PRd in the 10,000 this year. That doesn’t mean she’s been in great form by her lofty standards. She’s clearly been behind her teammates all year and playing catchup. In a 5000 at the Track Meet in mid-May, she was more than 10 seconds back of three potential contenders here in  Rachel Schneider, Emily Sisson and Natosha Rogersand dropped out around 4k (splits here). Since then she has run and won a 5000 on June 3 in 15:17, but 15:17 fitness isn’t going to get you on this team. With the altitude camp over and her training volume reduced, she’s been looking better, but is it enough?

If it’s not a BTC sweep, then Emily Sisson likely has made her first Olympic team or Rachel Schneider has made it in a second event. In the 5000 at the Track Meet where Infeld was a DNF,  Schneider (14:52.04) and Sisson (14:53.84) were both very good. Schneider definitely has better speed than Sisson — Sisson doesn’t even have an official 1500 pb — so Sisson is not going to let this turn into a jog fest. If Sisson is a good hot weather runner, then the heat may play into her hands as while the pace is slower it makes it more like a 12k in terms of brutal effort.

Natosha Rogers was also in The Track Meet 5000 and ran 15:04.95. The Hansons-Brooks athlete can’t be overlooked. In 2012, remember, she beat Shalane Flanagan and finished 2nd at the Trials but didn’t get to go to the Olympics as she didn’t have the standard.

In terms of others, I could see making the team, Alicia Monson of the On Athletics Club pops up next. It’s quite possible she could have had run under 15:00 this year but coach Dathan Ritzenhein has kept her away from the long stuff after she ran 15:07 in March. She has run 4:07 for 1500 however and the OAC runners have been running inspired so far in the Trials. Ritzenhein thinks the world of Monson’s talent and says she could be the next big US star. For more on Monson, listen to her podcast appearance on Track Talk from May.

In December’s The Track Meet, the 10k results were as follows.

1 Rachel Schneider USA 18 Jul 91 31:09.79 PB
2 Weini Kelati ERI 1 Dec 96 31:10.08 NR PB
3 Alicia Monson USA 13 May 98 31:10.84 PB
5 Natosha Rogers USA 7 May 91 31:12.28 PB
6 Kellyn Taylor USA 22 Jul 86 31:15.65 PB

Kellyn Taylor is super tough and was close to some of the expected players here but I just don’t see her making it.

If Sara Hall makes it at age 38, it would be quite the story but she’s never shown sub-31 ability on the track. Of course, heading into last October’s London Marathon, she’d never showed 2:20:32 ability or given any hint that she was capable of finishing 2nd in the world’s most competitive marathon.

Weini Kelati has also gotten US citizenship at the last minute and now in this race.  The 2019 NCAA 10,000 and XC champ would have a * next to their name if I had her in the table above as she ran 14:58 back on March 6. Her speed isn’t great (4:10 pb), but her diminutive nature seems well poised for the heat.

Prediction: 1) Cranny 2) Schweizer 3) Sisson

I’m very confident Cranny makes it. Schweizer hasn’t historically been as good at 10,000 as 5,000 but she’s got a pb under 14;30 for 5000 so it’s hard not to like her. But handicapping this is tough as I don’t know if anyone historically has struggled in the heat.

MB: Which US women 10k runners are historicall good in heat? Which are bad in heat?
MB: The Hot weather makes Emily Sisson a top 3 favourite in the 10K final
Podcast: Alicia Monson Talks Olympic Trials

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