EUGENE—It was a tough day for athletes with Washington ties on the final day of the US Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon
In the men’s 1500 meters, University of Washington grad Izaic Yorks (above/photo by Paul Merca) and Auburn/Riverside HS alum Jordan McNamara entered the race knowing that a top-3 finish wasn’t good enough to secure an Olympic team spot, as they hadn’t achieved the qualifying standard of 3:36.20.
Almost from the gun, both Yorks and McNamara went to the front, with McNamara taking the field through 400 in about high-57 seconds.
Shortly afterwards, McNamara, whose reputation as a sit-and-kick specialist was well known by the rest of the field, ceded the lead to Southern Oregon alum Eric Avila, with Yorks close behind.
Yorks moved up to the front in an attempt to keep the pressure on the veterans like world championship medalist Matthew Centrowitz of the Nike Oregon Project, and Robby Andrews, the former University of Virginia standout.
Ben Blankenship of the Nike Oregon TC Elite jumped on Yorks just before the bell, knowing that was his best chance to steal the win.
However, Centrowitz took care of business over the last 250, using a 53.95 last 400 to win in a new Trials meet record of 3:34.09, with Andrews second in 3:34.88, and Blankenship third in 3:36.18, just in front of 2012 Olympic silver medalist in this event Leo Manzano, who was fourth in 3:36.62.
Yorks faded to tenth in 3:40.34, while McNamara was last in 3:49.44.
In the women’s 5000, UW grad Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts was in contention with 400 meters to go, but could not find the final gear, as she mustered a 75.85 last 400, finishing in sixth in 15:18.60, while Seattle Pacific alum Jessica Tebo was 11th in 15:41.02.
Molly Huddle, the winner of the 10000 last week, took the win in 15:05.01, using a 63.23 last lap, followed by Arizona State alum Shelby Houlihan in 15:06.14. Kim Conley, who shocked the US track & field world by unexpectedly making the team four years ago, was a solid third in 15:10.62.
The Nike Bowerman TC’s Emily Infeld, who is already on the Olympic team in the 10000, was fourth in 15:13.87, followed by Dartmouth alum Abbey D’Agostino in 15:14.04.
D’Agostino’s fifth place finish is significant, as late Sunday night, letsrun.com reported that both Huddle and Infeld will only run the 10000, meaning that D’Agostino will be the third member of Team USA in the 5000, just ahead of Mackey.
In the mixed zone, an emotional Mackey said, “I just thought it was going to be me. I just was feeling good and so confident,” Mackey said. “I’m just heartbroken. There’s only three girls that can walk away achieving the goal that everybody else out there has seen themselves achieving a thousand times. You have to believe it’s gonna be you, with all of your being.
“And when it doesn’t happen, the elation from celebrating your goal is like equal to the devastation of it slipping through your fingers.”
Alexa Efraimson from Camas was in contention with a lap to go, but finished sixth in the women’s 1500, running 4:07.34, as Jenny Simpson ran 4:04.74 to make yet another US Olympic team. Veteran Shannon Rowbury of the Nike Oregon Project was second in 4:05.39, while Simpson’s New Balance teammate Brenda Martinez avenged her fall in the 800 earlier in the meet, and took third in 4:06.19.
Gabe Grunewald of the Brooks Beasts was 12th in 4:18.73.
Washington State University alum Jeshua Anderson finished sixth in the men’s 400 meter hurdles in a time of 49.41, before being disqualified for a lane violation.
Tacoma’s Dakarai Hightower cleared a best of 7-3 (2.21m) in the men’s high jump, finishing sixth, as Brand Jordan’s Erik Kynard, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist won a ho-hum competition as the only jumper to clear 7-6 (2.29m) under wet and slick runway conditions.
Hightower, who did not have the Olympic standard of 7-6 (2.29m), curiously didn’t pass at least one attempt after missing at 7-5 (2.26m), knowing that a clearance at that height would do him no good regardless of the final placing.