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RI’s Huddle Edges Rowbury in US 5000

HUDDLE EDGES ROWBURY IN USA 5000M FINAL
By David Monti, @d9monti

(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

SACRAMENTO
(27-Jun) — With two laps remaining in the women’s 5000m final at the
USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hornet Stadium here
tonight, Molly Huddle was nervous. The American record holder for the
distance was leading Shannon Rowbury by only half a step, and knew that
Rowbury –a two-time national 1500m champion– had the edge on her in
closing speed.

“I just tried to make sure like I had enough for
a hard kick because I knew Shannon is a great closer, and I’m going to
have to pull it off in the last 200,” Huddle told reporters.

The
two Olympians had already dispatched NCAA champion Marielle Hall of the
University of Texas by turning laps of 71.4, 70.9 and 69.9 seconds
before hearing the bell. At that point, Huddle increased the pace
again, but Rowbury stayed right behind her, waiting for the right time
to strike. As the duo began to enter the turn at the end of the
backstretch, Rowbury moved outside and shot past Huddle who seemed to
hesitate before giving chase.

“I tried to change, measure my
kick a little better in these scenarios,” Huddle explained. “I used to
go all out at the bell. I tried to go, like, 80% at the bell because I
knew the move would come at 200. It’s happened to me before that I
wasted it all in the first 200.”

As Rowbury came out of the
final turn into the homestretch, she was striding smoothly and gaining
speed. It looked like she had Huddle beaten and, to make sure, she
slightly angled to the inside to prevent Huddle from shooting past.

“We
were kind of weaving all around, so I was like, be ready for a lean. I
know it’s going to be close, and I went until my legs went numb,
basically.”

Inside of the last 50 meters, Huddle
stutter-stepped, found a new line on the outside and gave her all to
pass Rowbury. She only managed to get by her rival in the final 10
meters to take the win, 15:01.56 to 15:01.71. She closed with a 62.5
second final lap.

“I knew she was going to put her strength to
good use,” Rowbury told reporters. “I hoped I would be able to kick by
and get her, but she’s a tough girl and she fought back, and that’s why
we go out there and race.” She continued: “It’s disappointing, but
she’s a great competitor. If I’m going to lose to someone, she’s
someone I definitely respect.”

Hall, who just turned pro, held on for third, clocking a 6-second personal best of 15:12.79.

“Third is what I had today,” said Hall. “I’m not sure what my time is but hopefully a PR.”

For
Huddle, 29, tonight’s victory represented her second USA 5000m title
(she also won in 2011), and continued a successful streak of races this
year, including her national 10-K record for an all-women’s race at the
Oakley New York Mini 10-K on two weeks ago (31:37) and a fast 5000m at
the Golden Gala in Rome (14:55.90). Huddle said she is now at home
running on either surface.

“I used to be more comfortable on
the track, but I definitely feel more comfortable on the road now,”
said Huddle. “It’s kind of growing on me. I’ve always loved road races
but now I feel like I can go between.”

* * * * *

In
women’s qualifying action, all the favorites –Jenny Simpson, Morgan
Uceny, Mary Cain, Kate Grace, Katie Mackey, and Gabe Grunewald–
advanced to the final of the 1500m. Both Simpson (4:08.36) and Uceny
(4:09.74) won their heats. Despite having two World Championships
medals, Simpson has never won a USA title.

“I’m taking this
very seriously, and as we were talking before, I’ve never won a 1500m
title before,” Simpson said, almost looking embarrassed. “So, I’d
really like to compete for that.”

High school sensation Alexa
Efraimson was unable to advance, finishing seventh in the second heat.
She ran aggressively, and was in fourth position with about 250 meters
to go, but wilted in the homestretch. She was assisted off of the track
by medical personnel and did not speak with the media.

The
biggest surprise in the women’s 800m was that 2014 world indoor
champion Chanelle Price failed to start her semi-final. That provided a
boost for the other favorites –Ajee’ Wilson, Molly Beckwith, Laura
Roesler, and Brenda Martinez — who all advanced to Sunday’s final.

“I’m
strong, so I’m pretty confident,” said Martinez, last summer’s world
championships bronze medalist. “I want to do my best, so I’m going to
do whatever I can to recover and just get ready for the final. The
semis are always stressful, so I’m kind of glad they’re over with.”

ENDS

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