Saturday, June 25, 2011

Prediction Time: 2011 USATF Men's and Women's 1500 picks

Christin Wurth-Thomas, always sticking her nose in it
If you follow me on Twitter, you'll see I noticed two things this morning. The first thing was that every athlete in the Men's 1500 is sponsored by Nike. Whether it be through their club (Oregon Track Club), their school (Oregon, Arkansas, Virginia Tech) or just through a standard Nike sponsorship, there will be a lot of Zoom Victories on the track at 2:51 pacific today. The second thing was that Arkansas' Dorian Ulrey was advanced to the final after someone "impeded his progress" in the semi's with about 200 to go. Take a look a the "game tape" and see what you think. It looked to me that he just didn't shift gears when everyone else did and got tripped up. Either way, he'll be trying to make his second consecutive world team.

All footnotes aside, this final is going to be a scorcher. Whether someone takes it from the gun or they run sub 1:50 for the second 800 off a slow pace, it's going to be a grinder with as many as seven competitors vying for a podium spot (and a ticket to Daegu). The women's race will be just as tough as there are at least six capable women of stepping up and placing top three. So without further adieu, here are the official writing about running 1500 picks:

Men's 1500
1. Andrew Wheating
This is a toss up between Wheating and Lagat, but I think Wheating is pumped up and will take it. He has raced less and will be kicking home in front of the Hayward faithful. Then again, I picked Solinsky to win the 5000, so choose with caution.

2. Bernard Lagat
The ageless wonder will work only as hard as he has to, then will turn on the jets somewhere between 200 and 100 to go. Someone will have to push him down for Kip not to make the team.

Who wants it more?
3. Leo Manzano
I know Leo's had an off year so far, but he's done too many things in the past and looked great in the semi's. I think he'll pull through. I also wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't feeling it early and went DFL!

Darkhorse: Will Leer
Leer has been waiting his turn since he surprised in the trials in 2008 with a fourth place finish, passing Alan Webb at the line. He's been training in Ann Arbor with Olympic Silver Medalist Nick Willis and looked great in the semis. He's going to have his hands full with David Torrence, Lopez Lomong and Matt Centrowitz all performing at a high level as well, but it seems like this is a great chance for Leer to get on a World team, as he looks to be in peak shape.

Women's 1500
1. Jenny Simpson
After taking the indoor titles in the mile and the 2-mile, Jenny "B" Simpson looks to add an outdoor title to her 2011 mantle. She'll have some strong competition up front, but I believe will prevail with her strength and kick.

2. Morgan Uceny
Uceny has gotten better and better every year and I believe now is her time. She could contend for the win or she could contend for third, but she'll be up there mixing it up no matter what.

3. Christin Wurth-Thomas
As I mentioned the other day on Twitter, "the American runner most resembling Steve Prefontaine over the past 5 years is without a doubt, Christin Wurth-Thomas." There is no question about this. While she not be head and shoulders better than her American counterparts, she will make it an honest race. It's an absolute joy watching her put it on the line and I believe she'll do that, get out-kicked for the win, but make the team. If not, she'll leave blood on the track trying.

Darkhorse: Brie Felnagle
If you haven't noticed yet, I like picking Darkhorses with ties to where I live (Raleigh or NC in general) and former Tar Heels. Felnagle is the latter and has really been coming on this year. She especially showed some fight in the prelims, running her second best 1500 ever in 4:09.95 and holding off Georgetown's Emily Infeld for the auto-qualifier. She'll have her hands full with Shannon Rowbury, Anna Pierce and Katie Follett vying for that last spot as well!

Should be a great afternoon of racing! NBC will have the live broadcast from 5-6pm. The final predictions we'll do will be the 800, and they'll be up tonight or tomorrow morning.

Want to see how I fared? Check out the Nationals Recap

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