Karissa Schweizer Outduels Alicia Monson to Win Her First USATF National Title
May 28, 2022
What a race to kick off the 2022 Pre Classic.
Karissa Schweizer and Alicia Monson battled stride for stride over the final 4000m of the USATF 10,000m with Monson leading throughout as they decimated the field behind them.
Both women were eyeing the first national title on the track and something would have to give. Just before 200m to go, Schweizer tried to pass on the inside as they were dealing with lapped runners. Monson prevented the inside pass so Schweizer went wide around the final turn and got ahead of Monson with 150m to go, but they would stay nearly stride for stride onto the homestretch as Monson still had some run in her legs. Schweizer was too good down the homestretch and won in 30:49.56 (64.14 last lap, leader-to-leader) as Monson settled for 2nd in 30:51.09.
The battle for the third and final Worlds spot was even closer than the battle for the win. Natosha Rogers led former World Championship bronze medallist Emily Infeld around the final turn as Infeld tried to come up on the outside. Infeld would edge ahead of Rogers down the homestretch but Rogers wasn’t done yet and battled back to surge ahead just before the line as she put up her hand to celebrate making the Worlds team for the first time.
Emily Durgin did most of the early leading as the field went through 5000 in 15:50.43. After 6000m Monson had had enough and began to push the pace. The lap before had been 74.79, the 3rd fastest of the race, but Monson ran a 71.62 and only Schweizer could go with her. Monson would run 72-second laps the entire rest of the way until she ramped things down the final two laps. Schweizer made no attempt to pass Monson and just stayed behind her as they opened up a big lead on the rest of the field. Monson increased the pace to 68.23 on the penultimate lap as Schweizer looked like she was getting antsy. The pace lowered on the final lap to 64.14 but that was the only lap of the race that Schweizer led as she got the win.
The chase pack in the final mile consisted of Rogers, Infeld, Weini Kelati, and Sarah Lancaster going for the final Worlds spot until Infeld and Rogers were clear of everyone else on the final lap.
Quick Take: Schweizer played this one perfectly to get her first national title
At the senior level, national titles don’t come easily.
We don’t want to hear anyone complaining about Schweizer sitting on Monson for the final 4k before blowing past her over the final 150m. There are no style points in championship meets – it’s all about who can get to the finish line first. Schweizer did EXACTLY what you are supposed to do when you know you have a better kick: sit on your opponent and force them to break you before the final lap. Monson couldn’t do it and as a result Schweizer got her first national USATF title to go with her 5 NCAA track titles.
Quick Take: This was a great effort by Alicia Monson
Monson doesn’t have a US track title yet, but she’s establishing herself as a US distance star. She made this race tonight by pushing the pace. While she wasn’t rewarded with the win, she showed that she and Schweizer were head and shoulder better than everyone else.
Quick Take: This was a long time coming for Natosha Rogers
Rogers, an NCAA 10k champ for Texas A&M, finished a surprising 2nd at the 2012 Olympic Trials 10k as a 21-year-old but didn’t have the standard and thus did not get to go to London. The next decade, however, was full of ups and downs, and Rogers even briefly stepped away from the sport following knee surgery in 2018. But she eventually returned, signing on with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, and in 2020 ran 31:12 in the 10k, a 42-second pb. She followed that up with another pb, 15:04 in the 5k, in 2021 and finished 7th in the Olympic Trials 10k. Now, at the age of 31 she is running better than ever and is headed to her first World Championship team 10 years after that runner-up finish at the Trials.
Also, we believe this was the first time a Hanson-Brooks team member has made a Worlds team on the track. As much success as the team has had at the marathon (two Olympians and a Boston Marathon champ), making US track teams isn’t easy.
Update: Coach Kevin Hanson confirmed that Rogers is the first athlete in the 20+ year history of the Hansons-Brooks team to make a Worlds team outdoors. They’ve had athletes make Worlds nine times in the marathon and the Olympics three times in the marathon as well as Des Linden make World Indoors in the 3000 in 2010. But a WC team member in outdoor track is a first.
Quick Take: Emily Infeld really wanted to make this team but came up just a little bit short
Enfeld has battled a lot of injuries in recent years as the 2015 world championship bronze medallist hasn’t made at World or Olympics team since 2017. Tonight, she almost went back to Worlds and was emotional in the mixed zone after coming up just short. She didn’t have any regrets about her tactics. She’s known for having a big kick but said she was very much aware that Rogers had closed her 5000 in California in 63 earlier this year.
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