Thursday – Sunday Olympic Trials Recap

Thursday

Women’s 3000 Steeple

My prediction:

  1. Emma Coburn
  2. Courtney Frerichs
  3. Leah Falland
  4. Mel Lawrence
  5. Grayson Murphy

Results:

  1. Emma Coburn (9:09.41)
  2. Courtney Frerichs (9:11.79)
  3. Val Constien (9:18.34)
  4. Courtney Wayment (9:23.09)
  5. Marisa Howard (9:24.74)

This race started at 11:47 p.m. on Thursday night, so I had to catch the recording the next morning. I was too anxious to wait until I could watch the race, so I checked the results in the morning and was relieved to see the usual top 2 made it. A quick perusal of Twitter told me this was a heart breaker for Leah Falland, so I knew I was in for some drama.

Honestly, if I hadn’t seen the results ahead of time, I would have been super nervous for the way Emma Coburn ran the race. Instead of going to the front, she hung out mid-pack for more than half the race! The commentators speculated she was practicing racing tactics since she so often leads US races, but I didn’t feel calm until I saw her jump to the front and eventually overtake Frerichs. Again, I had seen the results already!

Leah Falland was running a strong race and was sitting in third when she tripped and fell around 750 to go. It’s unclear to me if she tripped coming off that barrier or not, but she got back up and was back in contention pretty quickly.

A big piece of advice among commentators has been to not panic if you trip and try to immediately make up the ground you lost. But when you’re already in “the squeeze” of a race and heading into the kick, you don’t have time to just ease back into the pack; you have to go now.

And Leah did! She looked like she was going to be able to hold off the competition to make the team until the final water barrier where it looked like she just ran out of gas. Ultimately she was passed by 5-6 runners over the final 150, and it was Val Constien who nabbed the final spot to Tokyo. If you want to learn more about Val, check out this episode of the Citius Mag podcast.

Saturday

Women’s 10,000

My prediction:

  1. Sara Hall
  2. Elise Cranny
  3. Emily Infeld
  4. Karissa Schweizer
  5. Emily Sisson

Results:

  1. Emily Sisson (31:03.82)
  2. Karissa Schweizer (31:16.52)
  3. Alicia Monson (31:18.55)
  4. Elise Cranny (31:35.22)
  5. Rachel Schneider (31:42.92)

What was I thinking not picking Emily Sisson to make the team?

I also got so much wrong about how this race would play out. Even with moving the race to 10:00 a.m. Pacific, it was still 90 degrees and humid, so I assumed the race would be slow, but they went out at 5:07-10 pace. Then Sisson took the lead after 5 laps, never looked back, and ran a Trials record.

Sisson split 15:49/15:14 for the halves of the race and dropped down to 74s before further dropping down to 71-72 for the last 2k and a sub-70 last lap.

There were certainly women who tried to go with her! Karissa and Elise and Alicia were always in the pack, and Rachel Schneider, Sara Hall, and Emily Infeld held on for a long time as well. Elise even made a move to try to take the lead from Sisson late in the race but ultimately was unable to do so and dropped to 4th in the final laps.

Karissa had the fastest kick of the race to overtake Alicia Monson for 2nd place (so fast that they camera nearly missed her finish) to earn the coveted honor of making both the 5000 and 10,000 team. And Alicia Monson literally left it all on the track as she had to be hospitalized overnight after suffering heat exhaustion and hypothermia from the race.

Sunday

Women’s 400H

My prediction:

  1. Sydney McLaughlin
  2. Dalilah Muhammad
  3. Shamier Little

Results:

  1. Sydney McLaughlin (51.90 WORLD RECORD!!!)
  2. Dalilah Muhammad (52.42)
  3. Anna Cockrell (53.70)

What a race to start the night! After the races got postponed due to the extreme heat, I went to bed around 9:15 p.m. and set my alarm for 12:15 a.m. to get up to watch these races. It was 100% worth it.

Dalilah Muhammad took the race out fast with Sydney just behind her, but they were even by the 8th hurdle, and Sydney turned on the jets down the home straight and over the last 2 hurdles to take the win and set a new world record. 51.90 is fast for a 400 without hurdles, and Sydney ran it with 10 hurdles along the way!

Unfortunately Shamier Little clipped the 8th hurdle and finished one spot out of the team. But Anna Cockrell’s post race interview was really touching, and I’m pumped for her.

Women’s 800

My prediction:

  1. Athing Mu
  2. Ajee Wilson
  3. Kate Grace
  4. Allie Wilson
  5. Chanelle Price

Results:

  1. Athing Mu (1:56.07)
  2. Raevyn Rogers (1:57.66)
  3. Ajee Wilson (1:58.39)
  4. Michaela Meyer (1:58.55)
  5. Chanelle Price (1:58.73)

Wowza the killer performances continued with the 800. Athing Mu showed a ton of composure after getting tripped up about 150 meters into the race, and she comfortably took the lead on the bell lap and continued to put more separation between herself and the pack until she just jetted away from everyone over the last 100 meters. I didn’t even know what was happening in the race for third because the chase pack couldn’t fit in the same frame as Mu.

The race for 2nd and 3rd was pretty much anybody’s with 200 to go. Kate Grace maneuvered into good position, and I was honestly really worried about Ajee Wilson until the split second before I saw her cross the line.

Raevyn Rogers ran out of her mind over the last 100 to solidify her spot on the team and will be returning to the Olympics again.

Men’s 1500

My prediction:

  1. Matthew Centrowitz
  2. Yared Nuguse
  3. Craig Engels
  4. Cole Hocker
  5. Josh Thompson

Results:

  1. Cole Hocker (3:35.28)
  2. Matthew Centrowitz (3:35.34)
  3. Yared Nuguse (3:36.19)
  4. Craig Engels (3:36.69)
  5. Henry Wynne (3:37.70)

DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE!

(not an original thought, stolen from multiple people on Twitter)

This race really lived up to the hype. It was such a typical championship 1500 with a fast start where they immediately slam on the brakes after about 100 meters and then run a sleepy pace for another 700 meters before the real race starts.

Centro took the lead at the bell lap, but the pack was still pretty crowded, and he didn’t have much separation. Even at 200 to go, it seemed like anybody’s race for the top 3 spots, and no one looked like they were running all out. Cole Hocker and Craig Engels were both boxed in, riding the rail, and Yared Nuguse had a perfect position on the outside.

Then with about 130 to go, a lane opened up between Hocker and Nuguse, and Hocker slipped through the space to the outside and started chasing down Centro, pulling even with him (this is where I am silent screaming at the TV because it is nearly 1 a.m. and everyone is asleep), and eventually getting a nose ahead for the win.

Yared Nuguse nabbed third place with a stellar kick of his own, and Craig Engels got another disappointing fourth place finish.

Even though Cole Hocker doesn’t have the Olympic Standard, running 3:35 again and winning this race pretty much guarantees that his World Ranking will be good enough to put him on the Olympic Team. He’ll find out for sure this week.

Saturday night finished with the Men’s 200 which I didn’t make any predictions for, but Noah Lyles won, and it was exciting! It was honestly the best 40 minutes of track ever.

Best Commercials

I’m obsessed with the Tracksmith commercials and highly recommend you watch them here and here. What I really love is the narration, which is below.

I saw trees bend in a howling wind, their branches screaming…and I thought, “That’s too painful.”

I heard rain in an angry rhythm on a rooftop…and I thought, “That can’t last.”

I saw my reflection in a river, flowing swiftly, quietly, without end…and I realized, “That’s what we do. That’s running.”

Closing Thoughts

I love the Olympics, but I think I love the Olympic Trials more. At the Olympics there are a maximum of 3 athletes that I tend to know a lot about and want to cheer for, but at the Trials? I had a hard time only picking 5 women who I wanted to make the 5000 or 10,000 team!

Track is the best. That is all.

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