Kara Goucher Cops 5K, Abdi 10K, Hasay Sets HS AR

Goucher victorious in brilliant women’s 5,000m; Abdi takes 10km

EUGENE, Ore. – Kara Goucher claimed her first national title and Abdi Abdirahman out-dueled an Oregon fan favorite to highlight competition Friday night at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field.

The 2007 World Outdoor bronze medalist in the 10,000m, Kara Goucher’s domestic resume heading into the women’s 5,000-meter final was dominated by one, hyphenated word: runner-up. Two-time 10,000m runner-up and 2006 USA 5,000m runner-up.

She’s a bridesmaid no more. Goucher came out on top of a historic, three-woman duel that saw American record holder Shalane Flanagan, Jen Rhines and Goucher scorch the track over the final three laps.

Early in the race, leading duties were handled by Lauren Fleshman. One mile in, Ari Lambie took over and paced a pack that included Flanagan, Goucher, Rhines, Fleshman and Sara Slattery through 3,000m in 9:12.68. Two laps later, with 1200m to go, Flanagan took off, running the next 400m in 66 seconds, followed by a 66.5 split as the trio of Flanagan, Rhines and Goucher hit the bell lap at 13:55.5 – in that order.

With 300 meters to go, Goucher’s leg turnover increased noticeably. Off the final turn, she went full-throttle to move strongly, and permanently, into the lead, winning in 15:01.01. A 2000 Olympian at 10,000m and a 2004 Olympian in the marathon, Rhines made her third Olympic Team at the distance that was her specialty as a collegian, passing Flanagan to finish second in 15:02.02. Flanagan was third in 15:02.81. Should Goucher or Flanagan choose to compete in only the 10,000m in Beijing, Lauren Fleshman in fifth (15:23.18) would fill the third roster spot as the next-highest finisher with the Olympic A standard.

Abdi from wire to wire – almost

A lead-running virtuoso and three-time USA champion at 10,000 meters, Abdi Abdirahman quickly went to the lead of the men’s 10,000m final and began clicking off 66-to-67-second laps. Abdi led Fasil Bizuneh and Galen Rupp through 3,000m in 8;17.97, and the University of Oregon’s Rupp later moved into second with 14 laps to go.

By 5km, passed in 13:49.53, it was Abdi, Jorge Torres and Rupp as the pace remained steady with 67-second laps – roughly 27:40 pace. A chase pack trailed approximately 35 meters behind, composed of Dathan Ritzenhein, Adam Goucher, Josh Rohatinsky, James Carney and Ed Moran.

Abdi seemed content to lead, with Torres occasionally moving even with him, but with two laps to go, Rupp took the lead in a bid to steal the victory. Abdi was having none of it and retook the lead with one lap left. He stretched his lead over the final lap as fireworks exploded near the stadium and won his fourth national title in 27:41.89, a time that was true to the pace he had run virtually since the gun. Rupp was second in 27:43.11, with Torres third in 27:46.33

Howard wins HJ; Acuff makes fourth Olympic Team

Chaunte Howard served notice that she is once again a medal threat in the high jump and Amy Acuff became the first woman ever to make four Olympic Teams in that event in a strong competition.

The 2005 World Outdoor silver medalist, Howard became a mother last year, yet she clearly is back in top form. The 24-year-old Georgia Tech product cleared all but her opening height of 1.84m/6-0.5 on first attempts, ultimately winning her second U.S. title with a height of 1.97m/6-5.5 to make her second Olympic Team.

One of the world’s most experienced jumpers and a six-time national champion, Acuff at age 33 made her fourth Olympic squad with a clearance of 1.93m/6-4, with Sharon Day third at 1.91m/6-3.25.

A.G. Kruger was perhaps under the most pressure of any athlete on this night. As the only athlete in the men’s hammer final to have the Olympic “A” standard, he had to win his event in order to ensure a trip to Beijing. He came through by winning his third straight national title and making his second Olympic Team with a throw of 75.81m/248-9. Kevin McMahon was second with a mark of 74.49m/244-5 and Jake Freeman was third with 73.59m/241-5.

Qualifying Roundup – Hasay breaks HS mark

World champion Bernard Lagat withstood some heavy traffic in the final 200 meters of his men’s 1500m semifinal heat to win his race in 3:43.83 and advance to Sunday’s final. 2000 Olympic Trials champion Gabe Jennings took the second heat in 3:40.07.

In the women’s semifinals, U.S. leader Shannon Rowbury won the first heat easily in 4:11.75 to post the fastest time of the day, but it was the fifth-place finisher in the second heat who was the focus of the sell-out crowd. Multi-time USATF youth, Junior Olympic and Junior champion Jordan Hasay, a 16-year-old high school junior from California, broke the national high school record with her fifth-place time of 4:14.50. Lindsey Gallo won the heat in 4:12.54.

The first round of the men’s and women’s 200 meters saw just a handful of athletes eliminated. In the men’s heats, Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford (20.18) was the fastest qualifier as only two men were eliminated. The women’s 200 also was relatively uneventful; Shalonda Solomon had the fastest time (22.51, +2.0mps) as five women were eliminated.

Men’s javelin qualifying yielded one of the biggest casualties of these Olympic Trials as World Outdoor bronze medalist and American record holder Breaux Greer was 17th in qualifying (67.20m/220-06) and failed to make the final. Top qualifier was Barry Krammes with a mark of 78.97m/259-01. Walter Davis posted the top mark in men’s triple jump qualifying (16.84m/55-03.00, +1.8mps)

For complete coverage of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field, including results, athletes quotes, photos, TV schedule and start lists, visit http://www.usatf.org/

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