2011 USA Championships Day One – Trials
Day one of the 2011 USA Championships are done. Whew! Trials meets are very nerve-raking! As a coach and fan of the sport, I know that trials are part of the sport. But that doesn’t mean they are easy to stomach. My feeling is that nothing great can happen at trials. If you are seeded high and expected to qualify for the finals, then if you qualify it’s no big deal. If you don’t qualify, it’s pretty much a disaster. The higher one is seeded, the worse the disaster. My favorite mantra at trials meets is, “live to run again.” Championships are not won on trials day, but they can be lost.
This year alone I’ve anxiously lived through our league (WCAL) and secion (CCS) trial meets. Both those days were pretty successful with the bulk of the athletes that I coach qualifying for the next round. No one that I expected to qualify “stubbed their toe” and failed to move on.
On day one of the 2011 USA Championships, I sat in the stands nervously awaiting the women’s 1500 trials. Unlike the WCAL and CCS trials, I wasn’t on the track talking to the athletes. I was up in the stands with nothing to do but be nervous for Shannon Rowbury’s race. How many times have I told her, “All you want to do is live to run again.”?
With one lap to go, Shannon was boxed in. At about fifth place she fought her way out of the box and started moving up around the curve. With 300 meters to go she was pressing Jennifer Simpson for the lead. Then she passed Simpson and took the lead with 200 meters to go. She held the lead down the homestretch until a couple athletes inched by her. It was a blanket finish:
1 Jennifer Simpson 4:14.20
2 Gabriele Anderson 4:14.25
3 Anna Pierce 4:14.32
4 Shannon Rowbury 4:14.40
5 Treniere Moser 4:14.41
6 Jackie Areson 4:14.42
The top four were automatic qualifiers so by virtue of beating Moser and Areson by 0.01 and 0.02 seconds respectively, Shannon was automatically qualified for the final (with Simpson, Anderson, and Pierce). Moser and Areson would have to await the results of heat two to see if they qualified for the final based on time. I felt that up to eight runners in heat two could potentially break 4:14 so I would have been unbelievably nervous if Shannon were in Moser and Areson’s position. As it turned out heat two went:
1 Christin Wurth 4:08.32
2 Morgan Uceny 4:08.68
3 Katherine Follett 4:09.94
4 Brie Felnagle 4:09.95
5 Emily Infeld 4:10.02
6 Jordan Hasay 4:14.85
Wurth, Uceny, Follett, and Felnagle were automatic qualifiers from heat two with Infeld, Moser, Areson, and Hasay the four qualifiers for the final on time. Hasay beat out Lauren Hagans from heat one by one hundereth of a second, 4:14.85 to 4:14.86. That is why coaches always train athletes to run through the finish line, those hundedths of seconds can make a big difference.
Today is Friday, June 24, 2011. The 1500 meter final is tomorrow. That means the nervousness from yesterday’s trials is behind us and the sweaty palms for the final are still a day away. Today is a day to just enjoy some track & field action. But tomorrow? With a trip to the 2011 World Championships on the line and only the top three earning a spot on the team, tomorrow is bound to be filled with heartpounding excitement. Go Shannon!