Saturday, June 30, 2012

Talking Trials: Hurdling barriers on and off the Track

Steepling into London are Shay, Franek and Coburn
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
This is the ninth installment of "Talking Trials." There will be more to come every day during the 2012 USA Olympic Track and Field Trials from Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, OR.Full results for the trials are here.

Prelims and semis filled the day Friday, with the one final on the track being the Women's 3000 meter Steeplechase. Emma Coburn looked great and would win her second consecutive national championship, but the story was the race behind her. 2010 NCAA Outdoor Steeplechase champion, Bridget Franek, had a rough day at the Prefontaine Classic. Would she recover on the same track that didn't cooperate a few weeks back? Yes. She ran a smart race, conserved enough energy to have a strong last 400 meters and found herself on the podium as the national runner up. Read Franek's account of the race here. Right behind her, 2012 NCAA Outdoor Steeplechase champion, Shalaya Kipp, would fight off New York-New Jersey Track Club's Ashley Higginson for the third and final spot for London. Tom Nohilly, an 8:16 steepler in his day, told me earlier this week that he'd been working with Higginson and that she was ready. He was correct. She looked great and would run a big personal best and the A Standard, which will come in handy for next year. Despite her record run, Kipp was up to the challenge and would join her Colorado teammate, Coburn, on the squad. The last three NCAA Steeplechase champions are now all Olympians, as Coburn won in 2011. Speaking of Coburn, David Monti took the words right out of my mouth at the press conference and asked her point blank, with all her success, had she given thought to going pro? A prepared Coburn answered "I owe it to my coaches and Shalaya Kipp to finish out my eligibility at Colorado." Watch the race here.

Picked this up at the Brooks run
this morning. Fitting, huh?
Off the track, things started to get strange as the news began to trickle in that Brooks' Gabriele Anderson had been disqualified from the Women's 1500 semifinal and would not run the final. The story was that with 300 meters to go, she made contact with Amy Mortimer (click that link for a short video of the contact from crtside). Mortimer would finish seventh in the heat. Her protest would advance the next in line, Alice Schmidt, and not Mortimer, to the final. Anderson's coach, Team USA Minnesota's Dennis Barker has appealed. Here's David Monti's story on the topic.

NEWS FLASH: Gabe just tweeted at 3:30 pm eastern: "THANK GOD I'M BACK IN THE FINAL!"

This brings up the question of what is disqualification-worthy contact? In the prelim heats of the 1500, US Army's John Mickowski, was pushing anyone that got in his way, and that included multiple shoves of Jordan McNamara. Rubbing is racing? I don't know. But I imagine both the finals will have some pushing and shoving, so get ready. There are Olympic berths on the line.

In North Carolina news, it was all smiles for Greensboro’s Calesio Newman. “I feel good. I just wanted to get through the rounds smart,” stated a pleased Newman after his first round of the Men’s 200 meter run. After a tough turn of events in the 100 meters earlier in the week, he would return to run a personal best time of 20.28 seconds. He won his heat in the process and would take the second best overall time into Saturday’s semifinal, trailing only heavy favorite, Wallace Spearmon. Luckily for Newman, both Walter Dix and Justin Gatlin have withdrawn from the event. He'll be back on the track tonight. Watch a short video of the interview I did with him here.

Finally, off the track, the Oiselle "Totally Trials" Fashion show had a special guest DJ. Who you ask? The one and only MC Hammer. It was a fun affair and the only event I've attended thus far where the women outnumbered the men. This week was the first I had heard of the Seattle-based company, but I would expect to hear more about them over the coming year, as they have a great group working for them and some nice clothing to match!

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