Friday’s racing ends with a bang in memorable men’s and women’s 5000m races.
Kara Goucher showed that her recent affair with the marathon distance has not taken the speed out of her legs Friday night at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, as she took victory in the women’s 5000m in impressive fashion. While her victory was expected, the men’s 5000m had no clear favorite and remained wide open until the very last meter, giving the small crowd present a big thrill.
The women’s race set off first. Amy Hastings took the field threw the first lap in 74.5 seconds. Three-time Olympian Jen Rhines tucked into third place and Goucher hid herself in the middle of the pack, content to let others face the stiff wind gusts sweeping across the track. At 1200m Emily Brown took the lead and increased the pace, stringing out the pack behind her. Rebecca Donohue took the lead next and slowed the pace, allowing the pack to bunch up again. Goucher slowly moved up as the laps ticked by. Donohue hit 3K first at 9:27 and continued to break the wind for her rivals until Jen Rhines made a devastating move with three laps left. Four paces back, Goucher immediately responded and sprinted onto Rhines’ heels.
The two familiar foes were alone immediately, completing lap eleven in a withering time of 69.4. Goucher shadowed Rhines patiently until the pair was approaching the bell lap, when Goucher dropped the hammer and broke away. She pumped her fist in the homestretch and stopped the clock at 15:20.94. Rhines locked down second place while recently crowned NCAA 5000m champion Angela Bizzarri of the University of Illinois passed three runners on the last lap to take third.
After the race, Goucher explained her decision to run the marathon and not the 5000m at the World Championships. “I love racing and I love representing the US, but I feel like if I’m going to do my event justice I’m going to have to focus on running the marathon this time,” she said.
Ever the aggressor, former steeplechaser Anthony Famiglietti went out hard at the start of the men’s 5000, hitting 800m in 2:05 and 1K in 2:37. The field spread out quickly under the pressure of the pace. American two-mile record holder Matt Tegenkamp found a comfortable spot in Fam’s wake and his training partner Chris Solinsky was right behind him. The first mile was covered in an unsustainable 4:12. Oklahoma State University freshman Fernandez found himself stuck in no man’s land between the lead and chase packs after they broke apart. Predictably, Fam lost a bit of steam in the second kilometer, which was run in 2:42. Bolota Asmerom grabbed the lead with four laps to go, picking up the pace, and Fam quickly fell back. But when he slowed the pace Fam boldly shot right back to the front.
With two to laps left Asmerom regained the lead and hit the gas. Fam cracked with 600 meters left. When the bell lap was sounded, Solinsky, Tegenkamp, Evan Jager, all University of Wisconsin graduates, and Jonathan Riley fell into a dead sprint and shouldered one another for the lead. Solinsky and Tegenkamp found another gear and ran down the homestretch shoulder to shoulder, bringing the crowd to its feet. Tegenkamp nipped his friend at the line in 13:20.57. Jager held on for third.
Tegenkamp did little celebrating after sealing the win, but began almost immediately to look forward to the World Championships. “We have a ton of improvement to do,” he said, speaking for his teammates, “and we’re ready for the work.”
Finishing fifth was German Fernandez, just 18 years old, who set a new American junior record of 13:25.46.
The preliminary heats of the women’s 3000m steeplechase were perhaps more highly anticipated than usual because of the presence in heat one of American record holder and recently crowned NCAA champion Jenny Barringer, who also recently ran the fourth-fastest American women’s 1500m time in history (3:59.90). At the sound of the gun, in her trademark fashion, Barringer bolted to the front as though she had been shot out of a cannon. NCAA runner-up Nicole Bush quickly reeled her in, but lost contact when she fell on her second pass through the water pit. The reason may have been that the hurdles were set at the wrong height – six inches too high. With 700m to go and Barringer 40 meters ahead, Bridget Franek passed Bush and went after Barringer, but it was too little, too late. Barringer’s winning time was 9:47.54, comfortably short of her American record time of 9:22.26.
Heat two began more conservatively and competitively with the whole field completing the first lap in a bunch. Lindsay Allen, who entered the race with the second-fastest qualifying time (9:40.83), led the early laps with the fastest qualifier, Anna Willard (9:30.75) marking her closely. After 2K, only two other women remained in contact behind them: Lindsay Allen and Delilah DiCrescenzo (yes, the object of the hit song “Hey there, Delilah”). Willard made her move halfway through the bell lap and pulled away on the homestretch, winning in 9:52.98.
Both semifinal heats of the women’s 800m had dominant winners. Gina Gall was impressive in heat one, recording the best time of the meet so far (2:01.99). Maggie Vessey pulled away from the rest of the field easily down the homestretch in winning the second heat. On the men’s side, Khadevis Robinson took semifinal heat one in 1:47.66, while hometown hero Nick Symmonds took heat two in 1:47.50.