Running - Page 7

Trio of Ducks Advance to 1,500 Meter Finals

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Jordan Hasay poses in front of the time board in 2008 when she set a junior world record.

All eyes were on Oregon’s Jordan Hasay in the semifinals of the 1500. Hasay tucked herself in position to advance to the final in the early stages of the race, running in third early on behind Katherine Mackey and Alice Schmidt. Hasay would fall back to fifth at the end of the first lap, but would move back up towards the front of the pack soon after. However, as the pace picked up, Hasay, who qualified for the 1500 finals back in 2008 as a high schooler, could not answer the move made by Shannon Rowbury.

Over the course of the final 400 meters, Hasay was passed by nearly the entire field, finishing 11th in 4:15.52, the second slowest time from both heats. Needless to say, Hasay was not happy with her performance.

“It sucks,” said Hasay. “I hate misrepresenting Oregon at Hayward.  It’s embarrassing for lack of a better word.”

On the men’s side, Andrew Wheating and Russell Brown of OTC Elite ran two very different races in the first heat of the 1500 meter semifinals. Wheating ran a signature race by starting at the back and moving to the front with 600 meters to go. The former Oregon star had some ground to cover with 100 meters to go, but Wheating was able to out-kick most of the field, finishing second in 3:51.40 to advance to the finals. Brown was not as lucky however. The 27-year old New Hampshire native fell off the pace, finishing in 3:58.85, the slowest time of the day by over four seconds.

“Everyone swooped past me in the last half lap, and then I was like ‘I need to make moves,’” said Wheating.

In the second heat, former Duck Matthew Centrowitz ran a gutsy race, sprinting to a 3:41.90 win, edging out Leonel Manzano by less than a hundredth of a second. Jordan McNamara barely edged his way into the final, finishing seventh with a time of 3:42.77, sneaking in as the final time qualifier by just .08 seconds. Centrowitz and McNamara will join Wheating in the 1500 final on Sunday. If the trio are able to complete the Oregon sweep, Oregon track & field head coach Vin Lananna has agreed to shave his signature beard, which he has had as long as the trio has known him.

Matthew Centrowitz celebrates after his bronze finish in 2011. He’ll go for the gold in London.

“It was good,” said Centrowitz. “The competition was good. I just came to qualify and give myself a good position.”

The women’s 200 semifinal featured a story that seemed too good to be true. Although in different heats, Jenena Tarmoh and Allyson Felix finished within one-thousandth of a second of each other. You will recall that Tarmoh and Felix finished in a dead heat during the 100 meter final. Both runners crossed the line in 22.30 seconds.

The day also featured the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase final. Right from the gun, Emma Coburn of Colorado jumped to the lead which she never let go of. Coburn turned in a dominating performance in a race she essentially ran by herself, winning in 9:32.78 seconds.

“I’ve had this goal since last year,” said Coburn. “This was a goal that I was hungry to receive.”

Bridget Franek of OTC Elite took second in the race in 9:35.62, while Coburn’s teammate Shalayla Kipp snagged the final spot on the team, finishing right behind Franek in 9:35.73. Kipp needed the A standard of 9:43.00 to make the team, which she achieved with ease.

“When I saw Emma cross at 9:32 I think it was, I thought I am going to get it,” said Kipp.

Saturday’s finals will include the triple jump, high jump, as well as the men’s 110 meter hurdles and women’s 200 meter race. Competition wraps up Sunday with a busy afternoon of finals.

Olympic Trials Conclude With Exciting Afternoon of Finals

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The final day of competition was ironically one of the first sunny days at Hayward Field in a quick afternoon full of finals.

The day began with the finals for the women’s javelin throw. Brittany Borman used a final throw of 61.51 meters to win the competition and earn her ticket to London. Kara Patterson finished second with a jump of 59.79 meters. Patterson passed on her final two jumps, the only woman to do so in the day’s final. While Kimberly Hamilton finished third with a jump of 58.04 meters, she did not achieve the A standard of 61.00 meters that she needed to get to London. Instead, the final spot on the team went to Rachel Yurkovich, who, although only jumped 56.85 meters, had the best jump among those who already had the A standard.

Borman threw for Oklahoma University during her collegiate years where she wowed Sooner fans.

“I have always dreamed of being here, and coming here has been such a blessing,” said Borman. “My coaching and training has been great and because of it I was more than prepared for today. I am looking forward to going to London.”

Also in the field events was the women’s long jump final. On Brittney Reese’s final jump of the day, it appeared as if she had jumped her way into first place. After landing though, the red flag was raised to signal a foul. Reese wasn’t buying it though. She would protest the call, and after review, officials overturned the call, giving Reese the win with a 7.15 meter jump. After four fouls in a row, Chelsea Hayes locked up second place with a jump of 7.10 meters. Janay DeLoach locked up the final spot with a 7.08 meter jump.

“I never want to lose a meet,” said Reese. “I looked down at the mark and didn’t see anything so I am happy that I won the protest. But it is not about winning here, it is about going to London and that is where I’m going.”

In the day’s first final on the track, Lashinda Demus showed why she is the best in the world in the 400 meter hurdles, turning in a dominating performance to win with ease in 53.98 seconds. That time is a seasonal best for Demus, as well as the fastest American time this season. It also marks just the second time this season any woman in the world has gone under 54 seconds. Arizona’s Georganne Moline crossed the line in second in 54.33 with T’Era Brown coming in right behind Moline in 54.81 to snag the final spot on the Olympic team.

“I felt good but I am still coming back from my injury and I didn’t do as good as I wanted,” said Demus. “I started feeling fatigued after the tenth hurdle but overall I am happy with my time but I still have more work to do.”

The men’s 400 meter final provided an exciting finish that was unexpected for much of the race. Angelo Taylor was out to a commanding lead for the first 300 meters, but slowed up as he was clearing the final hurdles. Michael Tinsley took advantage, overtaking Taylor for the win in 48.33 seconds. Taylor was able to hang on for second place in 48.57 seconds. Bershawn Jackson was in line for third, but tripped and fell right at the finish line, giving Kerron Clement the final spot on the team with a third place finish in 48.89 seconds.

“It’s the worst place you can possibly finish,” said Jackson. The hurdle clipped my foot and messed me up at the end.”

In the women’s 1,500 meter final, Morgan Uceny ran a smart race, letting Treniere Moser and Brenda Martinez set the pace early on. That strategy paid off, as Moser and Martinez would ultimately fade all the way back to 11th and 12th respectively. Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson made their moves at the bell to join Uceny in the front. The trio pulled away from the rest of the pack to punch their tickets to London. Uceny was first to cross the line in 4:04.98, with Rowbury coming across second in 4:05.11, and Simpson finishing third in 4:05.17.

I was being really aware of who was around me and also in making sure I was okay,” said Uceny. “Once I saw I had the top three I went for the win. They didn’t make it easy on me, but I gave it a shot.”

Former Oregon great Andrew Wheating kicks it into high gear as he closes in on the lead.

The men’s 1,500 final featured a trio of former Ducks with Andrew Wheating, Matthew Centrowitz and Jordan McNamara all racing for a spot in the Olympics. As the gun sounded, McNamara jumped to the easy lead for the first lap. At the 400 meter point, William Leer took his turn at the front. Leer would lead through 800 meters, but Centrowitz, Wheating, and Leo Manzano had other ideas. Centrowitz surged forward to the lead, trying to hang on for the win as he led the field around the Bowerman Curve. Manzano took the lead on the final half lap, ultimately hanging on for the win in 3:35.75. Centrowitz took second in 3:35.84, while Wheating used his signature kick in the final 50 meters to snag the final spot on the Olympic team, finishing third in 3:36.68.

“Around 400 meters to go I realized I was in a deep hole,” said Wheating. “I tried to keep an open lane. I came off the turn, saw the finish line and just kicked as hard as I could.”

The day concluded with the men’s 200 meter final. Wallace Spearmon used a strong final 100 meters to pull away from the competition, winning with ease in 19.82 seconds. Maurice Mitchell was second to cross the line in 20.14 seconds, while Isiah Young rounded out the top three with a 20.16 second performance.

While Sunday marked the official end to the trials, there is still one final event on the track to be settled. Before the start of competition on Sunday, USATF announced that the dead heat between Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix in the 100 meter final would be resolved in a run-off. The one-on-one race will take place at 5:00 pm at Hayward Field. The race will be free to attend, but there won’t be any shuttles to the stadium.

Rupp Breaks Prefontaine’s Olympic Trials Record in 5,000

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Galen Rupp lunges past the finish line in the 5,000m on his way to London (US Presswire)

In another historic night at the Olympic trials, former Duck Galen Rupp used a 52 second final lap to run his way into the history books with a 13:22.67 finish to break Steve Prefontaine’s meet record of 13:22.80, set back in 1972.

The pace was set early by Mo Trafeh, who was trying to reach the Olympic A standard of 13:20. Rupp kept himself in contention during the race, making his move to the front with two laps to go. Rupp temporarily lost the lead with 80 meters to go, but charged past Bernard Lagat for the win. Lagat took the second place finish in 13:22.82 while Lopez Lomong rounded out the top three, finishing in 13:24.47.

“I’m on cloud nine,” said Rupp. “We have two great guys, incredible finishers. I was just trying to get in there and I’m just happy I was able to hang on.”

As if Ashton Eaton’s world record in the decathlon wasn’t enough of a perfect story, Rupp followed suit by breaking a 39-year old meet record held by one of the most storied distance runners in history, Steve Prefontaine.

“Just to be mentioned in the same breath as Pre is a huge compliment, but I was thinking about making the team first and foremost,” said Rupp.

The women’s 5,000 final provided an equally exciting finish. OTC Elite’s Julia Lucas charged to the front during the final mile, and it seemed as if she would win the race in a landslide. In the final lap, however, Lucas slowed down and lost her lead. Julie Culley and Molly Huddle overtook Lucas to move into first and second respectively. Kim Conley charged down the final 100 meters to not only edge out Lucas by .04 seconds, but also hit the A standard she needed by .21 seconds.

“This is beyond a dream come true,” said Conley. “Four years ago, I was watching the Olympic Trials on TV thinking ‘Wow, it would be cool to run here,’ and four years later I’m an Olympian. I still can’t believe it.”

The day also featured a group of Ducks in both the men’s and women’s 1500 meter preliminaries.

Hasay runs the 5,000m in 2008, before she began running for the University of Oregon.

Oregon’s Jordan Hasay ran in the third heat of the women’s 1500 meter preliminaries, which had one of the tightest finishes of the day as the top six finishers would automatically advance. Hasay positioned herself strategically, tucking in behind the leaders in third place for nearly the entire race. With 250 meters to go, Hasay would make a move towards the front, but would be out-kicked in the end. Alice Schmidt would go on to win the heat in 4:15.70, while Hasay finished fourth in 4:16.06 to advance to the semifinals.

“I think I will do better with a faster pace,” said Hasay. “It will definitely be faster tomorrow.
It’s an honor to be out there representing Oregon.”

The preliminaries of the men’s 1500 meter race featured a quartet of former Ducks with Matthew Centrowitz in heat one, A.J. Acosta in heat two, and Jordan McNamara and Andrew Wheating in heat three. Centrowitz ran a similar race to Hasay, tucking himself behind the leaders early on. Centrowitz would surge to the lead at the bell, but like Hasay, was out-kicked in the final stretch, finishing third in 3:42.02 to advance to the semifinals. Acosta placed second in his heat, finishing right behind William Leer in 3:40.98 to automatically advance. Acosta’s time was the fourth fastest of the day. In the third and final heat of the afternoon, Jordan McNamara made his move in the bell lap to edge out Leonel Manzano by .13 seconds to win his heat in 3:40.78. Andrew Wheating tucked himself in the back as usual, using his signature kick on the last lap to advance with a fourth place finish in 3:41.14.

“I’m running angry,” said McNamara. “I feel like one of the best three in the country. Things finally have come together.”

Both semifinals for the men’s and women’s 1500 will be on Friday with the finals being on Sunday during the final day of competition.

In the men’s 3000 meter steeplechase final, OTC Elite’s Evan Jager kept himself in contention throughout the duration of the race, settling into third early on. Going into the final lap, Jager propelled himself over the water jump to take the lead, eventually winning in 8:17.40 to earn a spot on the Olympic team. Donald Cabral finished second in 8:19.40, while Kyle Alcorn grabbed the final spot on the team, finishing third in 8:22.17.

“I wanted to go up in top three,” said Jager. “I ended up finding myself in second and I got to conserve energy…then I was in the lead with 500 to go and pushed it from there. I saw I had it and had pure elation on my face and I knew I was going to London.”

Friday’s competition will feature the start of the women’s heptathlon, a busy day of qualifying rounds and semi-finals, as well as the finals of the women’s shot put and the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase.

Symmonds Runs Fastest 800 by an American at Hayward

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Another gloomy day at the US Olympic track & field trials greeted fans at Hayward Field for Monday’s action on the track. This was a day everyone had circled on their calendars as it featured both the men’s and women’s 800 meter final, one of the most exciting races in all of track & field.

Montano cruises away from her competition on her way to London

The women’s 800 meter final provided a thrilling finish, as it usually does. From the moment the gun went off, Alysia Montano bolted to a commanding lead, daring anyone to try and keep up with her. Montano would go on to win in 1:59.08. In the final 100 meters, Geena Gall of OTC Elite swung to the outside to surge into second in 1:59.24. Molly Beckwith had moved into third on the final lap, but a move from Alice Schmidt on the last step of the race earned Schmidt the final spot on the team with a 1:59.46 third place finish, rounding out a Nike sweep.

“Today was amazing,” said Montano. “A lot of us were OK with the rain because if we got on the podium it’s how it would be in London. I’ve been doing a lot of strength conditioning and I just went out in the same fashion I normally do and it worked for me.”

The men’s 800 finish provided equally exciting results as the women’s race. Nick Symmonds defended his Olympic trials 800 meter crown, using his signature kick on the final backstretch to win in 1:43.92, the fastest 800 ever run by an American at Hayward Field. Khadevis Robinson got his redemption for 2008 with a second place finish in 1:44.64. In the same race at the Olympic trials four years ago, Robinson dove at the finish line to try and edge out Christian Smith, who also dove, but it was Smith who earned the final spot on the team. Duane Solomon Jr. snagged the final spot on the team, finishing third in 1:44.65. Oregon’s Elijah Greer was in line to make the team on the final turn, but could not hold off the fierce kicks of the other runners, finishing sixth in 1:45.40.

Symonds will represent Team USA in London in the 800 meters

“I want to bring a medal back so badly,” said Symmonds. “The semis are so unforgiveable. There are 24 guys towing the line. It’s going to come down to a lot of luck and a lot of timing. But once you make the finals it’s anyone’s race.”

Robinson, who is nearly a decade older than Symmonds and Solomon, still remains confident despite his age.

“I’m 35 and it takes guys to run PRs and PBs to beat me,” said Robinson. “If it takes me to have other guys run lights out, then I’ll take it.”

While some might think that the rain that the trials has experienced would be a problem, Solomon, as well as many other athletes, aren’t phased by it.

“Coming in the weather has been off and on but we are prepared for it,” said Solomon. “We train in anything. Coming out here I expected it to be raining just like this. This hasn’t been too bad I am kind of used to it.”

After a busy four days of prelims and early finals at Hayward Field, athletes now get two rest days. The competition will resume Thursday afternoon with 1,500 meter qualifying heats for both men and women, and will be capped off with the men’s and women’s 5,000 meter finals.

Sprinters in 400 and 100 Punch Tickets to London

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Day 3 of the US Olympic track & field trials in Eugene consisted completely of finals in a quick afternoon at the track highlighted by some nice stories, including one man’s incredible comeback from an incident that nearly cost him the ability to ever walk again.

LaShawn Merritt (right) hugs Bryshon Nellum (left) after the men’s 400m finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene on Sunday (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

In the men’s 400 final, LaShawn Merritt ran a world best time this year of 44.12 seconds to earn his spot on the Olympic team. Florida’s Tony McQuay finished comfortably in second with a time of 44.49 seconds. USC’s Bryshon Nellum used a late surge in the final meters to also earn a spot on the team with a time of 44.80 seconds, edging out Josh Mance by just one hundredth of a second. Noteworthy in this race was Merritt’s winning time, the fastest in the world so far this year.

“This won’t be my first rodeo,” said Merritt. “I will go in confidently, and I am definitely confident in Tony and Nellum that they can handle this. They came out of college and now they’re with the big dogs…It’s a different mentality to run with someone who can run 44.8 in the first round.”

But what was truly incredible in this race is the comeback story of Bryshon Nellum.

Just three years ago, Nellum was shot in the legs after leaving a party at USC. Doctors told Nellum he would never be able to run world class times again. In those three years, Nellum has fought back to become an Olympian.

“It’s been a long journey for me,” said Nellum. “I finally had a healthy season. It’s a blessing to be able to compete out here.”

On the women’s side, Sanya Richards-Ross won the 400 final in 49.28 seconds. Not only was that a world best time for 2012, but also an Olympic trials record, as well as a new Hayward Field record. Finishing in second in 50.02 seconds was Dee Dee Trotter, while Francena McCorory rounded out the top three with a gutsy finish in 50.43 seconds.

“Today was phenomenal,” said Richards-Ross. “There is something so special in competing at Hayward…It’s a dream come true. You really can’t think about it [Olympics] until you get past this. I’m excited to rep Team USA…I feel like I have one of the best coaches in the world.”

Justin Gatlin (right) celebrates a first place finish over Tyson Gay (left) in the men’s 100m race on Sunday (Robert Deutsch/USA Today)

In the day’s final event, the men’s 100, Justin Gatlin ran a scorching fast time of 9.80 seconds to win the final. American record holder Tyson Gay finished second in 9.86 seconds, while Ryan Bailey snagged the final spot on the team, finishing third in 9.93 seconds.

This race was a bit of a homecoming for Bailey, who won the Oregon state championship title in the 100 while at Douglas McKay High School in Salem.

“I’m truly blessed to be here and run at Hayward,” said Bailey. “Every time I’m here they have great fans. I’m just really happy. I can’t put it into words.”

USA Track & Field has also decided on a ruling on the tie that occurred between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, which is explained below. More info can be found on www.usatf.org, the official website of USATF.

In case of a tie, the following procedure shall be used for breaking a tie for the final qualifying slot in a running-event final in which a U.S. National Team or Olympic Team is being selected:

  1. If either athlete declines his or her position on the National Team/Olympic Team, that athlete will be named the alternate and the other athlete will assume the final available position.
  2. If neither athlete declines their position, they will be given the option to determine the tie-breaker via coin toss or by run-off.

  3. If both athletes choose the same option, that option will be utilized as the tie-breaker.

  4. If the athletes disagree on the tie-breaker, the tie will be broken by a run-off.

  5. If both athletes refuse to declare a preference regarding the method between a run off and coin toss in regards to how the tie is broken, the tie will be broken by coin toss. 

Tomorrow’s events will include finals in the women’s triple jump, men’s high jump, and men’s javelin throw, as well as the men’s and women’s 800.

Eaton, Rupp Turn in Record Performances at Olympic Trials

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Eaton, a former Oregon Ducks track & field star and local athlete, competes in numerous events including the shot put (Photo credit: Mike Blake/Reuters)

The day started off with the 100 meter race for the decathlon. In heat one, Ryan Harlan finished first with a time of 11.26 seconds. The winner of heat two was Curtis Beach, crossing the line in 10.88 seconds. Heat three featured local favorite Ashton Eaton of OTC Elite and 2008 Olympic decathlon champion Brian Clay of ASICS, who has never lost an Olympic trials. Eaton exploded off the blocks for a world record 100 meter decathlon time of 10.21 seconds, even with a steady drizzle falling at Hayward Field. Clay finished second in 10.45 seconds.

Ashton Eaton followed up his world record performance in the 100 meter race with another world record in the long jump. Eaton soared through the air for a jump of 8.23 meters (27 feet), the longest jump in the history of the decathlon. Eaton’s previous best jump was just one centimeter shorter. Brian Clay jumped 7.40 meters, good enough for fourth place in the first round, and sixth place overall for the event.

The first round of the men’s 400 meters got underway Friday afternoon at Hayward Field. Nike’s LaShawn Merritt had the fastest time of all heats, winning heat one in 45.36 seconds. Oregon school record holder Mike Berry finished sixth in his respective heat in 46.29 seconds, missing the cut two advance by two tenths of a second.

In the women’s side of the 400, Francena McCorory had the fastest time out of the four heats, winning her respective race in 51.11 seconds. Also in McCorory’s heat was Oregon’s Phyllis Francis, who surged on the homestretch into third place to automatically advance with a time of 52.82 seconds. Former Duck Keshia Baker, now running for Saucony, finished second in the third heat with a time of 52.02 seconds to advance to the next round.

“All I wanted to do was qualify,” said Francis. “I was a little nervous, but I tried not to stress too much. I could have run faster, but I’m proud of myself.”

Baker dons an American flag after a successful run in the trials.

Molly Beckwith of Saucony had the fastest time in any heat of the women’s 800 on Friday, winning her heat in 2:00.61. Oregon’s Laura Roesler surged into third in her race to automatically advance as she finished her heat in 2:03.11.

“I felt really good,” said Roesler. “I definitely had a smile on my face and I came here to do what I did, so I am happy.”

Tyler Mulder and Nick Symmonds of OTC Elite had the fastest and third fastest qualifying times respectively. Mulder won his heat in 1:46.81, while Symmonds won his heat in 1:46.94. Oregon’s Elijah Greer had a strong second place finish in his respective heat, crossing the line in 1:47.42 to advance.

“At 300 meters I made a move and finished second,” said Greer. “I made a lot of bad moves, accelerations weren’t needed. Tomorrow, I don’t want to make the same mistakes. The last 200 meters was perfect energy for that round.”

In the women’s 100, Oregon’s English Gardner finished third in her heat in 11.27 to automatically advance to the next round of heats. Tianna Madison of Saucony ran her way to the fastest qualifying time of the day, winning her heat in 11.10 seconds. Gardner used the support of the hometown fans to her advantage.

“I love my home crowd,” said Gardner. “They keep me going. I thank God every day for my fan base at University of Oregon.”

Ashton Eaton continued his dominating day in the 400 meter portion of the decathlon, winning the third heat in 46.70, over a full second ahead of second place. Eaton’s time was the fastest of all heats. The 400 was the final decathlon event of the day as Eaton wrapped up the day with 4,728 points, 17 points ahead of American record pace. On Saturday, Eaton will attempt to take down the American decathlon record of 8,891 points, currently held by Dan O’Brien, a record that has stood since 1992. Eaton will also go after the world record, of 9,026 points, held by Roman Serble. That record has stood since 2001.

“What you’re seeing is a culmination of everyone who supported me,” said Eaton. “I just do not want to let anyone down.”

The men’s 10,000 meter final featured one of the most dominating performances ever, as all three of the qualifiers beat the former Olympic trials record of 27:36.49 seconds. Former Oregon star Galen Rupp used a 4:14 final mile to win in 27:25.33, a new trials record by over ten seconds. OTC Elite’s Matt Tegenkamp finished second in 27:33.94 while Nike’s Dathan Ritzenhein claimed the final spot on the 10,000 Olympic team in 27:36.09. Ritzenhein had not yet reached the Olympic A standard of 27:45, but ran a strategic race with Rupp, a teammate of his at Nike, to easily reach that standard.

Rupp celebrates after coming in first place in the men’s 10,000 meter race (Photo credit: Eric Gay/AP)

“Im extremely blessed,” said Rupp. “I feel like the luckiest guy on earth.”

During the race, the runners were drenched with some summer rain, but that didn’t stop Rupp.

“I wasn’t worried about it,” said Rupp. “I grew up with it and I love running in it. Regardless of the weather, you have to go out and compete.”

The women’s 10K featured a much more down to the wire finish. Leading for much of the way, it was Amy Hastings to cross the line first in 31:58.36 to earn her spot on Team USA. Natosha Rodgers of Texas A&M finished second in a personal-best 31:59.21 while Shalane Flanagan rounded out the top three with a 31:59.69 finish. Flanagan, who already had a ticket punched to London after winning the marathon trials back in January in Houston, has said she will only run the marathon in London. Rogers does not have the Olympic A standard of 31:45, so she will not be on the team despite finishing in the top three. In place of Flanagan and Johnson on the Olympic team will be Lisa Uhl, who finished fourth in 32:03.46 and seventh-place finisher Janet Bawcom (32:17.06). Uhl and Bawcom were the next two finishers that had previously achieved the Olympic A standard.

“I am just so excited that I can’t even express it,” said Bawcom. “I am so happy to be here and to be apart of a great team.”

The action picks back up tomorrow starting at 9:30 am with the continuation of the decathlon. Tomorrows finals include the women’s 100 meter hurdles and women’s 100 meter race.

15 Minutes With Kevin Wulff, CEO of ASICS America

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Kevin Wulff replaced Richard Bourne after 19 strong years at ASICS.

On Thursday night, Eugene Daily News had the opportunity to meet with Kevin Wulff, CEO of ASICS America. We talked with Kevin about Ryan Hall, an ASICS runner who will represent the US in the men’s marathon, their presence at the Olympic Trials, their involvement in major marathons, as well as their involvement in the lightweight running shoe movement with the ASICS 33 collection.

EDN: Obviously a very exciting time for ASICS with the Olympics approaching. You have Ryan Hall representing your company in the men’s marathon in London. What does that mean for ASICS?

KW: “Ryan is amazing as a person. We have a marketing campaign called Stop at Never,  and Ryan epitomizes Stop at Never as well as every single employee. We’re all trying to find ways to improve and innovate, and that’s exactly what Ryan does. To have him going to London as our representative is pretty darn exciting. He’s got the fastest time (in the marathon) as an American and it’s going to be a very competitive field as it always is, but he and his wife are both favorites of the company, and he is really what ASICS is all about.”

EDN: Nike has a huge presence at the Olympic Trials. What is ASICS doing to compete in that market here in Eugene this week? 

KW: “We respect everything they do and everything they have done for this event and the university. We’re going to be doing a lot of things to, number one to let our athletes know that we’re here to support them and to be visible. We’re going to also be visible within the community. We have what we call the Stop at Never challenge. We have three activities, or challenges so to speak that we set up over at Sun Motors. So they can challenge themselves through these activities of long jump, a reflex machine and other things like that. Anybody who enters gets ice cream at Prince Puckler’s. We have three winners each day who go into a raffle where they win a complete trip to the New York City Marathon or the Los Angeles Marathon. We have some fun things going on at the Original Pancake House. We have the whole thing wallpapered. Free coffee, and just things that we do that are visible, fun, and say thank you to our consumers. We’ll just do it in our own way and have some fun with it.”

EDN: ASICS is extremely involved in the New York City Marathon. Will ASICS be looking to sponsor more major marathons? 

KW: “We’re involved in probably 100 marathons across the country in some way. We stepped up in a significant way with the Pittsburgh Marathon and the New York City Marathon. The Los Angeles Marathon we just picked up in a significant way and I’m not sure we’ll add even more events, but we just want to get even more innovative in the events that we have. We want to really elevate and innovate. We’re doing things that haven’t been done before, and that’s what really excites us.”

EDN: The minimalist shoe movement has been popular in the running community. What is ASICS doing to become involved in that movement? 

KW: “Anybody who has known ASICS and our heritage and the epicenter of who we are is product. We do well at marketing and other areas of business but product design development is who we are. The who minimal thing, we call it lightweight. We’ve had it for a long time. 33 is a collection where we have a lot of performance built into lightweight products. Whether it be stability, cushioning, or motion control, we’ve built technology into our 33 collection. We’re launching something with our new campaign called the Gel-Lyte. That has its own properties, a lot of color, a lot of fun in the uppers. We feel it’s a space we’re good at, we’ve been involved, but we’ve dedicated additional styles, focus and effort to meet consumer demand. It’s pretty exciting but something that came natural to us because we’ve had lightweight running product for quite a long time.”

Stay tuned for our Q&A session with ASICS athlete Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist for the United States in the marathon.

Ryan Hall, an ASICS runner who will represent the US in the men’s marathon

Track Fans Treated to Olympic-Like Meet at Prefontaine Classic

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Fans watch the Bowerman Mile at the 2012 Prefontaine Classic, which was held at Hayward Field Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Rafael Ramirez)

The 2012 Prefontaine Classic was being deemed a meet better than the Olympic Trials by many. Among the athletes entered at the meet, there were over 100 Olympic and World Championship gold medals. Track fans in Eugene were once again treated to a world-class meet that didn’t disappoint.

The afternoon began with the men’s 400 meter race. Kirani James jumped the gun early for a false start, but was allowed to restart the race, running under protest. James held a slight lead coming off the final turn, but American Lashawn Meritt was able to surge forward to take the win in 44.91. James finished second in 44.97.

“You train to win so when you get into a race, you want to win,” said Merritt. “I executed my part of my race, which was that homestretch.”

The race also featured Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, also known by his nickname, “Blade Runner,” due to his prosthetic legs. Pistorius was assigned to lane one, not a spot one wants to be in the 400.

“I’m the slowest guy in the field, so it usually works like that,” said Pistorius. “I’ve always believed that I deserve to get in a race like this. I don’t want any special treatment.”

The stars and  stripes continued to fly high in the men’s 100 meter race as American Justin Gatlin broke the tape first in 9.90 seconds. Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade finished second in 9.93, a lifetime best.

“I want to go out and just dominate races and go out for the win,” said Gatlin. “Whether it’s a 9.7 or a 10.7, that’s what we worry about, coming out first.”

The women's 3000 meter steeplechase at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday in Eugene produced a world leading time of 9:13.69 by Kenya's Milcah Chemos. (Photo by Rafael Ramirez)

The women’s 3000 meter steeplechase featured world record holder of Milcah Chemos showed why she is the best in the world, overtaking Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa on the final backstretch, winning in 9:13.69, beating her own previous world leading time of 9:15.81. Assefa finished second in a season best 9:15.45, good for second in the world this year.

“I wanted to run under 9:10, but that last barrier, I slowed down,” said Chemos. “I don’t know what happened. But that’s normal.

Bridget Franek, the top American steeplechaser, turned in a disappointing performance, finishing last in 9:52.56.

The 110 meter hurdles featured world leader Liu Xiang of China, who looked stronger and stronger after each hurdle during the race, winning in an impressive time of 12.87 seconds.

In the women’s 3000 meter race, Mariem Alaoui Selsouli of Morocco set a world leading time, winning in 8:34.47. Kenya’s Sally Kipyego, who also runs for Oregon Track Club Elite, finished right behind in a lifetime best of 8:35.89. Kipyego beat her previous lifetime best by nearly 15 seconds.

As is common in many track meets, the men’s 800 meter race turned out to be one of the most exciting events of the day. Abubaker Kaki of Sudan broke the tape first in 1:43.71. Kaki held off a vicious surge from Mohamed Aman of Ethiopia as Aman finished second in 1:43.74. Hometown hero Nick Symmonds also had a strong race, finishing third in 1:44.32, the fastest time by an American this year.

“It looks a lot like an Olympic final,” said Symmonds. “This is my Olympic trials. If I can get top three in this race, I should get top three in the Olympic trials.”

In the women’s 200 meter race, American Allyson Felix turned in a dominating performance winning in 22.23, just a hundredth of a second off the world leading time.

Liu Xiang of China is all smiles after winning the 110 hurdles in 12.87 seconds at the annual Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Rafael Ramirez)

The women’s 400 meter race saw another American break the tape first, as a strong finishing kick from Sanya Richards-Ross won her the race in 49.39, the best 400 time in the world this year.

In one of the most anticipated races of the day, Great Britain’s Mo Farah went on to win the men’s 5000 meter race in 12:56.98, a world best for 2012. For a brief moment, it appeared as if former Oregon star Galen Rupp could win the race, as Rupp joined Farah at the front in the last lap of the race. Kenya’s Isaiah Koech was able to overtake Rupp, but could not catch Farah, finishing second in 12:57.63. Rupp rounded out the top three with a time of 12:58.90, becoming just the seventh American in history to break 13 minutes for the 5000, and the first to do it on American soil. Even Rupp was surprised with the time.

“It just kind of happened,” said Rupp. “I was just looking to compete. It was a nice bonus.”

Hayward Field and Eugene will now gear up for the United States Olympic Trials for track & field. The 10-day track festival will begin June 22, and conclude July 1. Reporter Sean Larson will be there each day to bring you full, up-to-the-minute coverage from each day of the trials.

Make sure to like EDN Sports on Facebook and to follow us on Twitter for complete local sports coverage. Always local. Always free.

Kenyan 10,000 Meter Olympic Trials Highlights First Night of Pre Classic

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The first events of the 38th annual Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field on Friday night certainly didn’t disappoint. A packed house witnessed world class races that will continue on Saturday morning.

Alice Schmidt runs gets out to an early lead, never looking back as she wins the 1,500 meter relay (US Presswire)

Starting off the night was the women’s 800 meters. Alysia Montano (USA) won with relative ease, breaking the tape in 1:57.37, with fellow American Geena Gall finishing in second in 1:59.28, a new personal best for Gall. The race also featured Anne Kesselring, who currently runs for Oregon.

Kesselring, representing her home country of Germany, finished in 2:07.72, which was a season best.

In the women’s 1500, it was a dominating performance for the Americans as Alice Schmidt led the way with a winning time of 4:05.64, a lifetime best. Reigning 1500 meter world champion Jenny Simpson finished close behind in 4:06.10, which was a season best for Simpson.

The women’s 10,000 meter race produced a world leading time for 2012, as Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia won in 30:24.39, shattering the previous leading time of 31:15.97 from Betsy Sania, who clocked that time back in April. The top 11 finishers of the race were all from either Ethiopia or Kenya. Florence Kiplagat was the top Kenyan in the race, finishing right behind Dibaba in 30:34.85. Kiplagat led the race with 1000 meters to go, but Dibaba, who had led for the previous 3000 meters, was able to overtake and hold off Kiplagat for the win.

Tirunesh Dibaba is a favorite to take gold in the 2012 Olympic 10,000 meter race this summer (Wiki)

The men’s side produced equally exciting races, starting with the International Mile. This race produced 12 sub-4:00 mile times thanks to a little drizzle cooling off what had been a muggy day in Eugene.

After the Oregon duo of Travis Stanford and Jordan McNamara set the pace before dropping off, James Kiplagat Magut of Kenya was the first to cross the finish line in a time of 3:54.16. Russell Brown was the top American in the race, who finished right behind Magut in 3:54.48.

The race also featured former Duck Matthew Centrowitz, who finished 8th with a time of 3:57.44, a new lifetime best for Centrowitz. Alan Webb, who many consider the greatest American miler of all time, finished in 11th in 3:59.47.

The men’s 1500 also featured a thrilling finish and a familiar face breaking the tape, as Magut, who also won the International Mile, finished first in 3:39.73. Aman Wote of Ethiopia was right behind Magut, finishing second in 3:39.92. Once again, Russell Brown was the top American, finishing in 3:40.13. The race that everyone came to see however was the men’s 10,000 meters, serving as the Kenyan Olympic trials for the event. It was simple, top three runners advance to London, while the rest had to wait another four years.

As expected, the race saw many tactical moves and lead changes for the duration, but in the end, it was Wilson Kiprop who crossed the line first in 27:01.98, a world leading time for 2012. The previous leading time was 27:11.70 from Tariku Bekele, who set that mark just five days earlier. Rounding out the Kenyan Olympic team for the race was Moses Masai, who finished second in 27:02.25, and Bitan Karoki, finishing third in a lifetime best 27:05.50. Out of the 15 men who ran, 12 set either lifetime or season bests.

The Prefontaine Classic continues on Saturday morning, starting with the men’s 400 meter race at 11:33 am PT, and concluding with the always exciting Bowerman Mile at 1:18 pm PT.

Make sure to like EDN Sports on Facebook and to follow us on Twitter for complete local sports coverage. Always local. Always free.

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