Sunday, July 1, 2012

Talking Trials: Stacked 1500's lead the final day at Hayward

There could be more carnage in the stacked 1500 finals today
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
This is the tenth 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.

Talking through the Men's and Women's 1500 finals can be difficult. The second you think you know who's in and who's out, you find a reason to slot someone else in for the spot. As I've overheard many times this week "that's why they run the races." That statement couldn't be truer.

The Women will go first and five have the Olympic A Standard (4:06.00), with a three within a second of it. That first group includes 2012 World Champion, Jenny Simpson, 2009 World Championship Bronze Medalist , Shannon Rowbury, defending US Champ Morgan Uceny, 2010 US Champ, Anna Willard and two time Olympian at 800 meters, Alice Schmidt. A strong and well-accomplished group that will be tough to crack. Those that have run under 4:07 include Katie Mackey, Brenda Martinez and a reinstated Gabriele Anderson. All three have the wherewithal to mix it up for a spot on the team, yet one will have to push the pace for the standard. That's where it gets tough.

Gabe Jennings looked better than anyone in the prelims and semis in 2008, yet needed the standard. He had no choice but to skew from his traditional racing style and go for the mark. It was a windy day and frankly, no one was going to run what was necessary for Jennings to advance. The final would be won by Bernard Lagat in 3:40.07, far off the then Olympic A Standard of 3:36.60 (it is now and even more difficult 3:35.50). After pushing the pace early, Jennings would finish last in 3:47.92.

So Mackey, Martinez and Anderson will have to work to make the pace honest, as I don't see anyone from the A group doing that. Notorious front runner, Christin Wurth-Thomas, would have been up to the task, but unfortunately she's out with injury. I feel like Uceny, Rowbury are Simpson are the three that will go to London, but I think Gabe Anderson may podium. Whether she'll get the standard or not? That's where it will get exciting.

It's a similar situation on the guys side; half the field has the standard and half doesn't. Jordan McNamara and Will Leer have looked as good as anyone, yet neither have the standard. Will a Craig Miller or a John Mickowski push the pace to go for the A? That could be the strategy even for some with the A, as Leo Manzano, David Torrence, Andrew Wheating and Robby Andrews and 2011 World Championship Bronze Medalist have proved they can close around 52 seconds; sometimes faster. Who can take the sting out of that kind of speed?

I like Torrence, Manzano and Centro out of the group, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least bit if it went Andrews, McNamara, Wheating or any variety of the top eight guys in the final. Tune in this afternoon on NBC to find out.

Brooks took to the skies over Hayward
(photo: instagram)
At the track yesterday, only the Men's 110 Hurdles and the Women's 200 were finals. Both will send excellent teams to London and the 200 press conference had to be emceed by USATF's Jill Geer to prevent "clown questions" from journalists trying to get the scoop on the 100 controversy, which will be solved today (meeting at noon pacific).

Off the track, someone at Brooks Running had the savvy to fly a plane over Hayward Field with a banner that said "Run Happy." Apparently Nike was none too pleased and according to David Monti, Brooks employees "got their credentials pulled" over the stunt.

On the Carolina's front, Greensboro's Calesio Newman ran strong and advanced to the Men's 200 Final, which will be the last event on the track today. Read the article I wrote about him in the Greensboro News & Record here.

And unfortunately, this was last night out, as I'll be taking a redeye back to North Carolina after the trials close this evening. I'll recap more in another post, but the experience has been truly amazing. This sport has the best people involved and Eugene has put on an excellent event. I truly hope they host again in 2016.

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