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Rupp Wins 8th Straight US 10,000m Championship

RUPP WINS EIGHTH STRAIGHT USA 10,000M CROWN
***Wild 800m Prelims See Favorites Heading Home***
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

EUGENE, OR (01-Jul) — You could call it what you want: a war of attrition, fartlek, or game of cat and mouse.

The
men’s Olympic Trials 10,000m was a pure test of will, with athletes
wavering back and forth trying to decide what to do on Hayward Field’s
maroon oval. In the end, Galen Rupp won his eighth consecutive national
title thanks to superior tactics, securing yet another entry into the
Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Behind him, two U.S. Army servicemen,
Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir, surprised the 20,987-person
crowd earning their first-ever Olympic team berths.

“This was
one of the harder ones for sure, if not the hardest,” said Rupp,
sporting his gold medal. “It was really tough with the heat and just
great competition too. You saw some really, really good guys out there
really struggle.”

From the start, all eyes were on Rupp, the
American record holder and Olympic silver medalist, as he took a pause
from Olympic Marathon training to run in front of his Oregon fans.
Taking their usual place in his wake, the field was sure to key off
Rupp, the winner of more USA 10,000m titles than anyone in history.

It
was six minutes in when Rupp threw a surprise surge that caught the
field by surprise, stringing out the bunch within seconds. Building a
three second lead at 3200m (9:03.14), Rupp ran by alone steps ahead of
the field.

Yet the 30-year-old veteran questioned the move and
dialed it back a notch, not wanting to risk going too early and fading
in the end. It was a smart decision.

After returning to the
group for the better part of five minutes, Rupp got antsy. With 13 laps
remaining, he’d shoot well out front once again, drawing a gasp from
the Hayward Field faithful. Kipchirchir and 41 year-old Bernard Lagat
were the only men bold enough to risk their chances and go with the
former University of Oregon Duck.

That decision ultimately
would backfire for Lagat. While in third place at 7400 meters, Lagat
suddenly stopped and collapsed to the track due to heat exhaustion. He
wouldn’t be the lone victim of the elements.

Oregon Track Club
Elite’s Hassan Mead found himself in third with Lagat’s demise, though
too would succumb to the conditions. Mead was in third nearly until
eight kilometers, when he stopped and needed medical attention (he’d
later get up and jog a few laps through the finish, though is in
results as a DNF).

Rupp continued to lead with Kipchirchir on
his tail while the new third placer –Korir– was poised to make an
Olympic team some 20 seconds behind. It’s was all thanks to Korir’s
mindset he learned in boot camp: don’t give up.

“You know, my
training in the Army, they always tell me, we always say ‘don’t give
up.’ When I saw those guys, I think there were three guys in front and
I was running with Hassan Mead, I told myself ‘don’t worry, you still
have almost eight laps to go,'” he recalled. “With a mile to go I felt
really good and I saw I was in a position to make the third spot. When
that opportunity presented itself, I told myself ‘You know what, this
is the time now to keep pushing and working hard.'”

A bit of
drama was left for the last lap, when Kipchirchir tested Rupp at the
bell with a fierce sprint. Rupp kept enough in the tank to respond
entering the Bowerman curve, and powered home to win in 27:55.04,
further solidifying his spot as the winningest 10,000m American in
history.

“They are all special. Being able to run an Olympic
Trials, it’s a whole other level than a normal national championship
and I’m just so thrilled to be able to represent my country again,”
said Rupp. “Personally, just to have my kids here and my family, this
is definitely a little extra special for me.”

Rupp made sure to
make it clear that he has not decided what events to run in Rio, and
that decision will come following the 5000m. If he qualifies in the
5000m, he will make a decision whether to run the 10,000m/marathon
double or the 5000m/10,000m double.

Coached by Olympic
marathoner Dan Browne, Kipchirchir (28:01.52) and Korir (28:16.97) are
the second and third U.S. Army representatives to qualify for the
Olympics. Yesterday, John Nunn won the 20-K Race Walk in an Army vest.

“We
represent the Army, this is our job, we have to do well and when we set
a goal we have to accomplish it. It means a lot to us,” said
Kipchirchir, speaking for the Army’s success here.

Interestingly,
Galen Rupp is the first American to qualify for the 10,000m and
marathon at the same Olympics since Dan Browne, who ran both
disciplines in Athens in 2004. Browne, who coaches Kipchirchir and
Korir, was very emotional after the race. He told Race Results Weekly
that this wasn’t a day he’d ever forget.

“It’s magical, just magical,” he said. “It’s awesome. Definitely, I’m just so excited for my guys.”

Fourth
went to Hoka One One Team Northern Arizona Elite’s Scott Fauble in
28:45.53, steps up on Bowerman Track Club’s Chris Derrick (28:47.24).
Among those not to finish in addition to Lagat and Mead were Eric
Jenkins, Futsum Zienasellassie, Diego Estrada, and German Fernandez.

FAVORITES FALTER IN MEN’S 800M PRELIMS

It
was a tumultuous first round of the men’s 800m, with the harsh reality
of the Olympic Trials elimination system in full force. Duane Solomon,
an Olympic finalist in 2012, as well as Donavan Brazier, the NCAA
Champion and collegiate record holder, were on the outside looking in
when all was said and done.

“There was no time to react. I
tried to do a little move,” said Solomon, who appeared nonchalant in
the mixed zone, before learning his fate. Leading for the first 700
meters, the USC alum wasn’t aware that the pack was closing fast behind
him. Caught by a previously boxed-in Drew Windle (1:48.66), Joseph
White (1:48.68) and Charles Jock (1:48.71), Solomon’s 1:48.71 mark was
not quick enough to advance (Jock and Solomon had the same time to the
hundredth of a second, but when timers examined it to the thousandth of
a second they gave the edge to Jock, 1:48.704 to 1:48.710).

“It
was a rookie mistake on my part. I should have run all the way through
the line,” said Solomon. “I hope I get another chance… I’ve been
working on my kick a lot. My kick is there. I’ve felt really good in
the last 100m of my races. I didn’t want to put too much into it but I
didn’t know they were [there].”

As for Brazier, fatigue was the
culprit. Tightening up down the stretch after leading a majority of the
way, the newly minted professional athlete was beat by Clayton Murphy
(1:47.61), Brandon Johnson (1:47.62) and Harun Abda (1:47.88).
Brazier’s time was 1:48.13.

“I got tired and slowed down,”
Brazier explained, shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders. “I
wanted an honest race and I tried doing it. It didn’t work out and it’s
back to the drawing board.”

Brazier will continue to train at
Texas A&M in College Station. There will be no trip to Rio de
Janeiro or the IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland; he bypassed
the USA Junior Championships in favor of the Trials.

“After
that I feel bad, really bad,” he said. “I should have gone out faster,
about two seconds faster… I’m tired man, I’m tired. I had a long
season. I’m trying to get through this, trying to get through
[inaudible]. I think I was focusing too much on the long run at this
meet instead of just focusing on the rounds. That’s something I’m going
to work on.”

For the winner Murphy, it was a good day at the office.

“I
got through. Prelim day legs for sure. It was nice to knock the rust
off. I hadn’t been on the track for a while. All in all, a good day,”
he said. Turning his attention to the elimination of Brazier, Solomon,
and Nick Symmonds (who scratched yesterday) all being out, Murphy
remained focused on himself. “I mean, it’s still a tough field. It’s an
Olympic Trials. Anything can happen, obviously. I’ve still got to line
up and race two more races if you want to make the team.”

The
fastest time on the day was clocked by Boris Berian, returning to
Hayward Field with an axe to grind. Running 1:46.03 to win heat two,
the fastest-ever first round time in an Olympic Trials, Berian looked
in control through the round (despite a hard charge by Erik Sowinski
down the stretch). Berian is glad to have the lawsuit with Nike behind
him, and now can focus entirely on the task at hand. He broke in a
fresh new pair of New Balance spikes today.

“I’m a lot more relaxed now,” he said. “It’s been a while since I raced so I just wanted to get out, cut, and not slow down.”

“I’m
just trying to stay as focused as I can. Keep all the crazy legal stuff
to my agent and lawyers and kind of just me relax, focus on running,
and relaxing.”

The third section was surprisingly won be Penn
State’s Isaiah Harris in 1:47.60, a step up on former Nittany Lion and
current Brooks Beast Cas Loxsom (1:47.76). Shaq Walker, who also just
turned pro, was third in 1:47.76 as well.

LUDLOW, MONTANO LEAD WOMEN’S 800M QUALIFIERS

The
first section was the fastest for the women’s 800m, where Molly Ludlow
and Alysia Montano went first and second in 2:00.30 and 2:00.56,
respectively. Veterans of the Trials system, Ludlow and Montano did
what was necessary to assure a spot in tomorrow’s semi-final.

“I’ve
trained so hard and am so strong that making it through the rounds for
me is not an issue. It’s just another day at the office. I really do
feel like I’ve got a lot left in me,” said Ludlow. Fourth at the Trials
in 2012 and at last year’s USA Championships, she’s hoping to move up
onto the podium. “I’ve literally gotten fourth place at every single
meet you could ever think of. I’m so sick of getting fourth place.”

Brenda
Martinez was next fastest in 2:00.85, winning heat two over Chanelle
Price (2:01.13) and Phoebe Wright (2:01.35). Favorite Ajee’ Wilson
fought off Stanford’s Olivia Baker down the stretch of the third
section. Their times were 2:03.31 and 2:03.68, with high schooler Sammy
Watson hot on their heels in 2:04.12. Watson would not advance.

Other
winners included Chrishuna Williams (2:03.18) and Kate Grace (2:01.36).
One prominent Oregon Duck advancing was NCAA champion Raevyn Rogers
(third in heat five, 2:01.67), though Duck alum Laura Roesler was
eliminated after her 2:03.55 showing (fourth in section four).

“I
thought I ran pretty strong, running a conservative pace, and everyone
was just finishing strong. I was too but…” said Roesler. “I knew
everyone was in the mix, of course they are going to be when you go
through in 60 or whatever we did. I expected that. Everyone’s a
contender and you can never count anyone out. I expected all eight
people in the field to be there.”

* * * * *

Action
continues Saturday at Hayward field in the middle and long distance
events with the women’s 10,000m final, as well as the men’s and women’s
800m semi-finals.

PHOTO: Galen Rupp, Shadrack Kipchirchir
and Leonard Korir show off their medals after the 10,000m at the 2016
USA Olympic Trials (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

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