Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 USAs: Shalane Wins, Delilah Makes First World Team

The KIMbia performances highlighting this year’s US Championships included four qualifiers to Worlds and one US title, plus one alternate spot and two other top-five finishes.

W10,000m — If you wanted a demonstration of the term “putting on a clinic,” Shalane Flanagan delivered one in the 10,000m, taking the lead almost immediately and methodically clipping off 74-second laps. No other athlete in the field tried seriously to match her pace, and she ended up soloing an extremely impressive 30:59.97 to dominate the field and claim yet another US title. That mark is the 6th-fastest American performance ever.

M10,000mMatt Tegenkamp, possessor of the world-class gear-change that netted him 4th-place and 8th-place finishes at previous World Championships, was poised to strike late in a very pedestrian 10,000m. Kicking off that tactical pace to run 1:54 for his final 800m, the longer distance still seemed to take the edge off his speed and, unable to find an extra gear in the final 150m, he came home second in just his second attempt that the longest race in track and field. Whatever disappointment the 2009 Champion at 5000m might have felt was surely tempered by yet another qualification to Worlds. Tim Nelson was positioned well but finished fifth. Jason Hartmann had led early but faded to 19th.

M5000m — The men’s twelve-and-a-half lapper was one of the most exciting races of the meet, with KIMbia athletes sparking the fireworks. A slow first two kilometers gave way to Matt Tegenkamp throwing down a series of 61’s to break the race open, and Chris Solinsky subsequently going to the lead with 1200m left in the race. At the top of the homestretch he still held the lead, with Bernard Lagat trying to close down on him, and for much of the straightaway, it looked like Solinsky would finally get the measure of the man who had denied him the US 5,000m record. Lagat’s legendary finish eventually won out, but the demonstration of Solinsky’s ability to finish was still remarkable, even in second place: an eye-popping 8:10 for the final eight laps, with a 3:58 last mile, closed in around 57 seconds. (To wit: Tegenkamp holds the US 2-Mile record at 8:07.) Andrew Bumbalough ran a strong race for fourth place, but said the tough middle laps took their toll and left him wanting when the final break was made. Tegenkamp finished fifth.

M1500mEvan Jager continued to impress in his return to competitive racing by making the final in a very deep year. Though he finished twelfth with a time of 3:50 — thanks to the tactical pacing — he was in the hunt with 200m to go, showing that he has retained the strength and fitness that got him on the World Championships team in 2009 at 5000m.

W3000SC — The last KIMbia final of the meet had Delilah DiCrescenzo in the steeplechase — seeded seventh, but having beaten two women ahead of her on the form chart just a few weeks prior, she would be a dark horse with a very realistic chance to pull the upset and get a spot on her first World Championship team. After getting gapped by a trio of leaders around 550m, it looked like Delilah was going to have to settle for fourth. Then, on the backstretch with 250m to go, she threw down a surge that launched her back into contact with the front pack, right at the doorstep of the water jump. Delilah nearly was derailed as NCAA runner-up Stephanie Garcia hit the barrier and tumbled into the water right in front of the Puma-sponsored athlete, but DiCrescenzo adjusted quickly, threaded her way to a safe landing, and exited the pit in third place, closing strong to hold on to that position. Qualifying to the World Championships was, in her words, “the biggest accomplishment of her career, to date.” Her time of 9:46.31 is the third-best performance of her career, her fastest time since 2008, and lands her in the Top-30 in the world this year (to date).

Each KIMbia athlete who placed top-three will be headed to Daegu, as all possess the necessary time-standards to represent the US.

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One response to “2011 USAs: Shalane Wins, Delilah Makes First World Team”

  1. […] 5000m with 8:10 Final 3200m Solinsky ended up “only” runner-up to Bernard Lagat, but the Badger alum essentially made the race with his aggressive running, and gave Lagat all he could handle down the […]