The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Trials Day 5 – More Rupp

Jun 29th, 2012
8:07 am PDT

Galen RuppOn Thursday we got more rain, more qualifying, and more Rupp. I must admit I’m a bit tired of the rain. And I was hoping to get to see some of the 1500 heats – but NBC gave me nothing. But I’m starting to really like this Rupp dude!

I’ll probably get booed, but one of the reasons  I’m not a huge fan of holding major meets in Eugene is the weather. Eugene and Des Moines get bad weather as often as not – and this Trials has been inundated with bad weather. I still have memories of Xavier Carter going down to a knee injury on a wet track at Nationals (Indianapolis) in ’07 and I worry about the fate of the athletes every time they compete in a national meet in the rain.

I don’t have any memories of the 1500 heats. I was hoping to see Uceny, Pierce, Rowbury, Simpson, Wheating, Manzano and Torrence, but that didn’t happen. They all moved through, but it would have been nice to see how they looked. So note to NBC, the 1500 is a signature race and usually has some of the sport’s more recognizable athletes. So giving them some face time is really a good idea. The women’s race should be one of the most exciting events of the meet and Thursday would have been a good time to start setting up the race.  

I did get to see the men’s 400 hurdlers and the women’s 200 sprinters – and both went to form. In the hurdles, the usual suspects moved thru – vets Jackson and Taylor. Johnny Dutch looked most likely to challenge for London looking most comfortable on the day. I was surprised that Jeshua Anderson didn’t look as comfortable – but maybe it was the long layoff since his last race. And for the life of me I can’t figure out why Reggie Wyatt has yet to blossom into a star – I thought he would be the second coming of Kevin Young. That said this looks like 4 fighting for 3 spots – Jackson, Taylor, Dutch, and Anderson.

The women’s deuce, on the other hand is loaded! Felix, Jeter, Tarmoh, Madison, Solomon,R-Ross, and Duncan all looked easy as they moved on to the semis. Looking ahead there will be three semis and check out the match ups. Knight, Tarmoh and Madison in semi 1. Duncan, R-Ross, and Solomon in semi 2. And Felix and Jeter in semi 3. The hottest semis of the meet!

At the end of the day however, today was about the 5000 meters. The women’s race was always going to be Molly Huddle and a rush behind her. And with three laps to go Julia Lucas began a LONG drive towards home picking the pace up appreciably with the field strung out behind her. Heading into the bell lap, Molly Huddle and Julie Culley broke into a separate group behind Lucas with everyone else training. Heading around for the final lap it looked like that’s how they would finish, but down the backstretch Lucas began to fade and Huddle and Culley went by. Heading home with some 30 meters to go Culley did the unexpected and went by Huddle for the win. But the real action was behind them as Lucas’ legs were moving slower and slower and the field was getting closer and closer – and the question was which would get to Lucas first the finish line or the field. The answer was Kim Conley by .04, as she went by Lucas right at the line to secure the third spot AND get the “A” standard by .21sec! Tremendous for Conley, but I couldn’t help but feel for Lucas who clearly started her kick one lap too early.

Then came the spotlight event of the day – the men’s 5k. And while it was going to be difficult to compete with the dramatic finish of the women’s race, it didn’t disappoint. This race was always about Lagat, Rupp and Lamong. And coming into the bell lap that’s exactly what we got. So when Bernard set sail down that backstretch with Lamong and Rupp in pursuit everything looked like it was supposed to. Rupp challenged and temporarily took the lead, but as they came off that final bend and Lagat hit that gear of his the race was over – or not. Because Rupp came back on Lagat and did the unthinkable by out kicking the best kicker in the US – but with a 52 second last lap maybe Rupp is now the top kicker. Rupp’s win gave him the distance double and his time broke the meet record of none other than Steve Prefontaine! Rupp must own Eugene right about now!

So, what’s on tap for Friday? Well, we get the first round of the men’s deuce and it looks like Walter Dix may be lining up.Wallace Spearmon had the #2 time in the world to go with lots of experience. This pursueit will be joined by 100 winner Justin Gatlin,  Maurice Mitchell, Mookie Salaam, and Darvis Patton – the top contenders in my opinion.

In addition to the women’s 200 semis we get the 1500 semis – and in the first weekend semi we get Jenny Simpson, Morgan Uceny, Anna Pierce, and Brenda Martinez – that could be a final! Let’s just throw Rowbury and Schmidt in there and get it over.

Oh, I almost forgot, the men’s 110 hurdlers take the track for their first round.That means we finally get to see David Oliver, Jason Richardson, Aries Merritt, and crew. So the meet will start picking up steam again as we head into what will surely be a very exciting weekend.

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8 Responses to “Trials Day 5 – More Rupp”

  1. Waynebo says:

    I am pleasantly surprised by Rupp. I must admit, I didn’t think he was capable of a 52-sec final lap. That was the main thing that kept him from being a medal contender in my view. Apparently, they have worked on that so I would consider him a legitimate contender in London. It would be nice to see an american besides Lagat on the podium. I love Lagat, but we have enough talent in the U.S. that he shouldn’t be the only one giving the Africans some strong competition.

    • CHill says:

      I’m very pleasantly surprised with Rupp … Didn’t get quite the glitz and glamour that Webb did coming out – but then no one has … And I was “disappointed” with him early … But I have to say that Salazar has done a great job with him, and I expect that he’s going to have an awesome career … And no offense to Lagat cause I love the guy, but it’s nice to see a home grown product finally getting it done … I think he has a decent shot to potentially medal in London given that “big” meet races usually aren’t in record territory, but are rather more tactical …

  2. Anderson says:

    What about the mens steeple! It wasn’t as exciting, but was still a final.

    • CHill says:

      I probably should have mentioned the steeple .. But it wasn’t as exciting .. And then I would have had to say something about Jager clowning in the home stretch even though he doesn’t have a prayer come London – being some 200 meters off the Kenyans and all .. I must admit that rather irritated me ..

  3. VillanovaFan says:

    Booo.
    You asked for it!
    The trials belong in Eugene. Let’s remeber the typical weather In London!
    But even if the Games were on the sun, the trials belong in Eugene.

    • CHill says:

      Yes I asked for it .. Not that I don’t like Eugene … But it needs to be in more accessible and media friendly places too .. Once upon a time it rotated – the Trials and National Championships … It was in Eugene, and Des Moines, but was also in Los Angeles and San Jose, and Knoxville, Atalanta and New York … It gives the sport more exposure … And we need to have a presence in some of the top media environments in the US ..

      To be honest I wasn’t a fan of the Games being in London – because of the weather … But just because the Games are going to be in a place where the weather is bad doesn’t mean we have to subject the athletes to that twice !! Eugene has great fans and will draw crowds, but so will San Jose – been there for Nationals and the gymnastics Trials are there as we speak … Atlanta .. Los Angeles .. Sacramento .. New Orleans .. Lots of places have, and could do a great job with the meet … Even if Nike isn’t sitting in their back yard ..

  4. Brandon says:

    Clement looked good in his 400 hurdles. It looks like the usual crew of Jackson, Clement and Taylor are going again.

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