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High Schooler Cain Advances at US Champs

CAIN, MOSER LEAD QUALIFIERS ON DAY ONE OF USA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
By Chris Lotsbom
(c) Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

DES
MOINES, IOWA, USA (20-Jun) — Day One of the USA Outdoor Track &
Field Championships began with rounds of the 1500m, 800m, and women’s
3000m steeplechase, seeing most of the pre-meet contenders advance.
Among those to impress were Alberto Salazar-coached athletes Mary Cain,
Treniere Moser, and IAAF World Championships bronze medalist Matthew
Centrowitz.

Moser and Cain appeared to be a pair on a mission,
running smart throughout the entire 1500m prelim with eyes on one
another. When Moser moved, Cain followed a second thereafter.

“The plan was to win,” said Moser, speaking to reporters with Cain right by her side.

Through
500 meters, Cain sat in last place with Moser slightly ahead and Katie
Mackey doing the leading duties. That’s when Moser, 31, began to
approach the front. Following in lane-two was Cain, the 17-year-old
American Junior record holder at the discipline.

“Going into it
of course Moscow is on your mind,” said Cain, whose strategy was to
“sit back, be comfortable, and move up,” she said.

Looking over
her shoulder as if to say ‘keep following me’ with 500 meters to go,
Moser surged once again and found herself in front. Cain joined soon
after, and the two would finish together, Moser timing 4:11.20 and Cain
4:11.48.

With Moser mentoring Cain over the last two months,
the Bronxville High School rising senior said she felt a true part of
the Oregon Project, coached by Alberto Salazar.

“I just have a lot of people around me who are really confident,” she said.

Team
USA Minnesota’s Gabriele Anderson won section two of the 1500m, with
Shannon Rowbury taking second and Kerri Gallagher a surprise third.
Morgan Uceny, the 2012 USA Olympic Trials champion, wound up fifth in
4:13.82, advancing to Saturday’s final on time.

“Coming from
England it’s a bit of a shock,” said Uceny, referring to the hot
weather here. “To sum it up, I have to get my shit together in the next
couple of days.”

In the men’s 1500m, nearly all of the pre-race
favorites advanced, led by 2011 World Championships bronze medalist
Matthew Centrowitz in 3:40.91. Centrowitz, who won the first heat ahead
of Will Leer and Andrew Wheating, said he is confident in where his
fitness is, encouraged by the increased turnover and speed in his legs.

“It was good,” Centrowitz said. “Definitely hot, hot weather. In a big field like that I did exactly what I had to do.”

Olympic
1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano was the victor in the second heat,
timing a slow 3:47.31 in a kicker’s race. Oregon Track Club’s Russell
Brown was second, with recent NCAA champion Mac Fleet third. In the
third and final section, Lopez Lomong narrowly defeated Ben
Blankenship, with a hard charging Miles Batty taking the third and
final automatic qualifying spot.

“At the end of the day, it’s
us who have to go out on the track and execute,” said Lomong, when
asked about how big a role his coach, Jerry Schumacher, played in his
result today.

A very relieved Blankenship said, “Shit finally came together. It took a couple of months, but it came together.”

Of
note, many of the best collegiate milers this past spring failed to
advance; among them were Oklahoma’s Patrick Casey and Riley Masters,
Indiana’s Andy Bayer, N.C. State’s Ryan Hill, Wisconsin’s Austin Mudd
and Alex Hatz, and Penn State’s Robby Creese.

In the women’s
800m, Olympian Alysia Montaño and New Balance’s Brenda Martinez
recorded the same exact time of 2:01.96 in separate heats. Montaño led
from wire to wire in front.

“I felt fantastic,” said Montaño,
with a red flower in her hair. “It’s nice to just blow it out in the
first round. [I’m] looking forward to tomorrow, another two laps.”

Chanelle
Price, Kate Grace and Phoebe Wright all advanced to Friday’s
semi-finals from section one. Grace, winner of the Grand Blue Mile here
in April, decided just last week that she would pass up on the 1500m
and solely focus on the 800m.

Other key qualifiers in the 800m
were world junior champion Ajee’ Wilson, NCAA standout Laura Roesler,
Olympian Geena Gall, and the New Jersey-New York Track Club’s Latavia
Thomas.

After relaxing with her feet up moments before taking
the line, Maggie Vessey went on to win her section in 2:03.15 ahead of
collegian Amy Weissenbach, 19. The lone surprise not to advance was
IAAF World Indoor Championships bronze medalist Erica Moore.

Section
three of the men’s 800m proved to be the most interesting. More than
three seconds behind heat winner Nick Symmonds came Robby Andrews,
finishing last among seven in his section. Andrews bypassed the media,
visibly upset and frustrated.

Brandon Johnson, a silver
medalist in the 400m hurdles at the 2004 IAAF World Junior
Championships, won heat one ahead of newly turned professional Cas
Loxsom, while Tyler Mulder led Charles Jock and Erik Sowinski across
the line in heat two.

Duane Solomon held off NCAA champion
Elijah Greer down the stretch, when the latter was forced to swing wide
in the final 110 meters after he got boxed in along the rail. It was a
good thing he did, because Penn State’s Brannon Kidder –who only just
completed his freshman year– and Mark Wieczorek were on his heels. All
four men advanced to the semi-finals.

Bridget Franek led all
qualifiers in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, running 9:57.96. Nicole
Bush was a surprise winner of heat two. Olympian Shalaya Kipp finished
a distant seventh, but still advanced on time. Reigning USA champion
Emma Coburn did not compete due to a back injury.

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