Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Daily Daegu: Jenny B fights in the 1500, but should she come back to the Steeple?

Simpson threw down multiple moves to
make the final (TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Day 4 was the last busy day before the Day 5 off day (save the Women's 20k Race Walk). The action got started early with the Women's 5000 semi-finals. Amy Hastings ran strong enough out of Heat 1 to get a time qualifier, while Lauren Fleshman left nothing to chance by throwing down a major move with 250 to go to secure a big enough cushion to coast into the finals with an auto qualfier. Hard to believe she was just 8th at USA's. American Record holder, Molly Huddle, wasn't so lucky as she put up a good fight, but her injury and subsequent loss of training ultimately kept her out of the final. She'll be back next year.

The Men's 1500 heats were almost as exciting with Daniel Komen taking a huge lead in heat 1 to secure his entry to the semis, while U of O's Matt Centrowitz securing the final automatic qualifier in that heat. The second heat brought some drama as Frenchman, Mehdi Baala, tripped and went down with 100 to go. The French are protesting, but as of now, he hasn't been passed to the semis. Andrew Wheating's year full of injury ended in this heat, as he just didn't have a kick left. Like Huddle, he'll be ready to dance next year. Amine Laalou won heat 3 with Leo Manzano getting in off time and former Florida State Seminole, Irishman Ciaran O'Lionaird, channelling the power of the mullet and bursting into the final automatic qualifying slot of the heat. What a few months O'Lionaird has had. Going from a poor showing at NCAA's, to an excellent 6 second PR of 3:34 in the 1500, signing a professional contract with Nike and making the World semis in an event that may not even be his best.

Lauren Fleshman, riding dirty (TrackAndFieldPhoto)
The Women's 1500 semis were competitive as multiple time American Champ, Shannon Rowbury, came in next to last, while Morgan Uceny cruised in second, securing an auto-qualifier. Jenny B. Simpson had to fight like crazy, but had that one last move when it counted, to bolt into the lead and finish a comfortable second, making the final.

The Men's 800 went pretty much to plan with David Rudisha toying with the field and Yuriy Borzakovskiy nearly stealing the Silver from Abubaker Kaki with his well honed tactics. Nick Symmonds gave it quite a ride, but didn't have enough left down the home stretch to sneak onto the podium. His 5th place finish isn't what he wanted, but certainly a solid showing and more fuel for the London fire that he'll begin building this fall.

The Women's Steeplechase was fast with Russia's Yuliya Zaripova taking the win in 9:07.03 and Tunisa's Habiba Ghribi taking the silver in 9:11.97. What you probably didn't realize is Jenny B. Simpson's 9:12.50 in the 2009 World Championships would have netted her the bronze today. Unless she comes in top 5 in the 1500, she should give serious thought into returning to the Steeple for London. Her protege, Colorado's Emma Coburn, had a tough race, but finished a strong season as the NCAA Champion, USA Champion and a finals qualifier at Worlds. Not too shabby! (Also, Anna Peirce's 9:22 PR would have been good enough for 5th and she's not at Worlds).

Finally, the Men's 400 went from being possibly LaShawn Merritt's return to glory, to the youth gone wild show, with Grenada's Kirani James sneaking past Merritt in the final meters (a la Mo Farah in the 10,000) to take the Gold. The only tougher loss for Merritt would be one where the IOC outlaws him form competing in London next year. We'll know the answer to that by the end of September.

With Day 5 being a quiet day, I'll preview Day 6 tomorrow!

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