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Colorado Continues Steeple Tradition Putting Coburn, Kipp On Olympic Team - RRW

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   on Jun 30 2012, 04:16 PM

By David Monti
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved - used with permission.

EUGENE, Ore. (29-Jun) -- Only six women have ever made USA Olympic steeplechase teams, and after today's final at the Olympic Trials here today half of them have come from the University of Colorado under the coaching of Mark Wetmore.

Emma Coburn, the redshirt Colorado senior from Crested Butte who had run 15 seconds faster than any other Amercan woman this season, breezed to her second national consecutive title and her first Olympic team berth.  Moving to the lead from the gun, Coburn was never seriously challenged, crossing the finish line at Hayward Field in 9:32.78.

Facing reporters in the mixed zone after her post-race press conference, Coburn tried to speak, but suddenly stopped, covering her face with her hands as tears of joy started to flow.  Wiping her eyes she said, "It didn't sink in until this moment.  This is our dream and it came true."

Coburn, 21, acted as a pacemaker of sorts for her teammate, NCAA champion Shalaya Kipp, who needed to achieve the IAAF "A" standard of 9:43.00 in today's race in order to make the team.  Kipp, also 21, from Salt Lake City, stayed within the top five throughout the race, then made a determined run for the podium in the final lap, nearly catching the more experienced Bridget Franek in the final 200 meters.  Kipp said she was primarily running for place, even though she needed the "A" standard.

"I wasn't aware of the time until the last 100 meters," she explained.  "(But), when I was sprinting, I was looking at the clock every second."

Kipp almost caught Franek, who finished second in 9:35.62 to Kipp's personal best 9:35.73.  "A" standards in hand, both women made the team.

"I wasn't sure if I would make it or not," Kipp revealed later.

Jenny Barringer (now Simpson), also a University of Colorado product, finished third at these Trials in 2008 here, setting the stage for Coburn and Kipp to make the team today.

"Emma followed Jenny; I followed Emma," Kipp marveled.

With a world class personal best of 9:25.28 and the looks of a fashion model, Coburn said that while she had considered turning professional, she planned to use up her NCAA eligibility next season out of a sense of duty to her school and coach Wetmore.

"It's a discussion I have had several times," Coburn told reporters.  "But I'm very comfortable being at the University of Colorado.  I feel like I owe it to my school to finish out my eligibility."

As for Franek, 24, also a first-time Olympian, getting second place on her home track in Eugene was particularly sweet, considering she left her family in Ohio some two years ago to come here and train with the Oregon Track Club Elite under coach Mark Rowland.

"I don't think it's fully sunk in that I've made the Olympic team going to London," the former Penn State Nittany Lion said.  She continued: "I definitely gave more today than I have in any race this season."


Only one "A" standard woman, Alice Schmidt, was eliminated in today's semi-finals of the 1500m  She was edged by Sarah Bowman in the second heat to finish sixth, and her mark of 4:10.94 did not allow her to advance on time.  Shannon Rowbury, the 2009 world championships bronze medalist (4:09.96), and Gabriele Anderson (4:10.08), a cancer survivor, finished 1-2 to lead that heat.  Anderson still needs the "A" standard of 4:06.00 if she hopes to make the team. Oregon's Jordan Hasay had an off day, finishing 11th.

In the first heat, the two best athletes --2011 Diamond League champion Morgan Uceny and 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson-- ran from the front to avoid trouble, finishing 1-2 in 4:08.90 and 4:09.12, respectively.  Anna Pierce, Uceny's Mammoth Track Club training partner, finished fourth and also advanced.

The first of the men's semi-finals was a painfully slow affair until the last lap when Will Leer unleashed a 51.99-second circuit to clinch the win in 3:51.27.  Andrew Wheating, the former Oregon Duck, took second and David Torrence third.  Russell Brown, Wheating's training partner who had achieved the Olympic "A" standard in Doha last May, limped to the finish in last place, his left Achilles braced with black supportive tape.  Leer was pleased.

"It was a very successful day and I'm definitely happy with the outcome," said Leer, who still needs the "A" standard of 3:35.50 in order to claim an Olympic team berth in the final.

The second heat went faster, led by Matthew Centrowitz and Leo Manzano who were both timed in 3:41.90.  Robby Andrews, who was running second to last just a few meters before the bell, ran 53.64 the final lap to finish third and advance.  Oklahoma State's German Fernandez finished 11th and was eliminated.

There are no middle or long distance events on the penultimate day of these Trials tomorrow, but the 1500m finals for both men and women will be held on Sunday.

PHOTO: Shalaya Kipp, Bridget Franek and Emma Coburn who will represent the United States in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2012 London Olympics (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly).


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