Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lagat brings 22,847 at Hayward to its feet with thrilling stretch run to win 5000m at US Olympic Trials...

EUGENE—With a screaming crowd of 22,847 at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon, Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) overcame not only Father Time, but a plethora of runners in the men’s 5000 meter run to take the victory in one of the most thrilling races of the entire US Olympic Track & Field Trials.

After a slow opening kilometer, Portland’s Woody Kincaid and Saucony’s Brian Shrader, who did not have the Olympic standard, broke away with a 59 second lap, knowing that it was their only chance at making the team.  Meanwhile, the rest of the field was content to let the duo break away, with Lagat content to sit in around 8th to 10th place.

With 2000 meters to go, Shrader and Kincaid continued to lead, but the field began to close on the duo, with the racing beginning with 1600 to go, as the pack dropped the pace to 63 seconds.

One lap later, Galen Rupp of the Nike Oregon Project, already on the Olympic team in the 10000 and marathon, went from fourth to first with a 61.6 lap and threatened to run away with the race.

There was no panic from the field with two laps to go, as Paul Chelimo and Hassan Mead were leading the group of five chasing Rupp.  

The fireworks began on the last lap as Chelimo chased down Rupp, with Mead, Ben True, Eric Jenkins, and Lagat in hot pursuit.

Chelimo opened a gap on his pursuers with less than 200 meters to go. but could not shake off Mead and Lagat as they exited the Bowerman curve.  

Lagat moved to the outside of lane 1 and shot past Chelimo with less than 50 meters to go, taking Mead with him as Chelimo began fading.  

Lagat’s final time was a modest 13:35.50, with Mead second in 13:35.70, and Chelimo third in 13:35.92, just holding off the fast charging Eric Jenkins, who ran 13:35.98.

Proving that in his case, age is no matter, Lagat’s final 400 was a lightning-fast 52.82 seconds.

An emotional Lagat said afterwards, “It wasn’t about the last lap but it was about reacting when everyone else made the move. (Coach James Li) said that it was about relaxing, especially after overcommiting in the 10k.  He said that the last 200 meters was going to be the most important, and that you’re going to make the team.”

“I train with young guys, and I don’t believe that I’m old. I’m (training in Arizona) with Sam Chelanga, Stephen Sambu and Lawi Lalang—all these young guys in Tucson, and we’ve got the smartest coach in the world.”

He noted that at last year’s Nike Prefontaine Classic, he failed to finish, and that he was ashamed of his performance, and that it wasn’t the image he wanted to portray to the rabid fans of Eugene.

Before the Olympics, he plans to run the 5000m at the Diamond League meeting in London.

He had a bit of pressure from his two children, Miika and Gianna, with his daughter telling him, “I want you to go to the Olympics so I can watch gymnastics!”

Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts finished 13th in 13:55.58, while teammate Riley Masters was 16th in 14:18.49.

Here's a link to video of the final lap of the 5000m, courtesy NBC Olympics.

While it wasn’t the prettiest way to get the job done, Vancouver native Kara Winger took third place in the javelin with a toss of 189-11 (57.90m) to make her third Olympic team.

Winger took the lead in the first round, throwing 185-10 (56.65m) then had three straight fouls before throwing 189-11 (57.90m) in round 5, and finished with a foul in the final round.

Texas A&M’s Maggie Malone won the competition with a throw of 199-7 (60.84m).

Athletes with Washington ties competing in Sunday’s finale include Tacoma native Dakarai Hightower in the men’s high jump at 3pm. UW alum Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts and Seattle Pacific alum Jessica Tebo in the women’s 5000 at 4:28 pm.

Washington State alum and former USA and NCAA 400 hurdles champ Jeshua Anderson goes in the finals of his specialty at 4:51 pm.  Nine minutes later, Camas’ Alexa Efraimson and Gabe Grunewald of the Brooks Beasts will contest the finals of the women’s 1500, while Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara and recent UW grad Izaic Yorks will run the finals of the men’s 1500 at 5:20 pm to close the meet.

The complete final day’s schedule is available below.

All except Hightower, McNamara and Yorks have the requisite Olympic qualifying standard in their events, thus, regardless of their finish in the finals, all three must go under the Olympic standard Sunday in order to be on the US Olympic team.

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