Team USA Distance Runners to Daegu, Part 2
In part one, I introduced the twenty veteran distance runners and three college kids that will represent the USA at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu later this summer. In part two, I introduce the final six members of the team.
First-Timers – But get used to seeing them (4)
This is the first international outdoor track & field championships for these four athletes, but I believe that you will be seeing these four in the USA jersey in the future. All four are young, have tremendous potential, and as proven by their success at the 2011 USA Championships are already competing at a high level.
Molly Huddle (5000 meters, 1st) – It almost comes as a surprise to me that this is Huddle’s first time to qualify. She set the American record in the 5000 meters when she ran 14:44.76 in 2010. Huddle was ranked number one in the US in the 5000 meters and number three in the 10,000 meters in 2010. Her debut 10,000 meter time was 31:48. Huddle has also been a USA Champion on the roads for the 10K, 5K, and 7 Mile distances. This All-American from the University of Notre Dame held the high school outdoor two mile record until Aisling Cuffe broke it on June 17, 2011.
Amy Hastings (5000 meters, 2nd) – Hastings quietly made her marathon debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon, running 2:27:03 in windy and rainy conditions. Her former college teammate at Arizona State, Desirae Davilla, got more publicity for placing a close second at the 2011 Boston Marathon, but Hastings’ time is the third fastest American debut marathon behind only Kara Goucher’s 2:25:53 in New York (2008) and Deena Kastor’s 2:26:58 in New York (2001). Hastings and Davilla should both be in contention to earn spots on the 2012 Olympic marathon team.
Angela Bizzarri (5000 meters, 3rd) – Although Bizzarri just graduated from Illinois University in 2010, the 23 year-old has already been a top three finisher at the USA Championships. In 2009 she placed third in the 5000 meters, this time behind Kara Goucher and Jennifer Rhines. Bizzarri, however, did not have the “A” standard and thus did not run at the World Championships. Although sometimes overshadowed by record-breaking performances by Lisa Koll when they were both in college, Bizzarri was NCAA Champion in the 5000 meters and cross country.
Morgan Uceny (1500 meters, 1st) – Uceny was primarily an 800 meter runner in college. She was sixth at the 2008 Olympic Trials in that event, and then doubled back to place a surprising fourth in the 1500 meters. This foreshadowed her future move up to the 1500 meters. In 2009 and 2010 she continued to race the 800 meters and placed in the top six at the USA Championships both years. She claimed her first USA Championship by beating Shannon Rowbury at the 2010 USA Indoor Championships in the 1500 meters. Later in 2010 at an outdoor meet in Europe she ran 4:02.40 in the 1500 meters (making her the tenth fastest 1500 meter runner in US history). This race probably cemented her decision that her future lay in the metric mile.
The Breakthroughers – i.e. Patience and determination pay off (2)
Two runners I am happy for are Scott Bauhs (10,000 meters) and Delilah DiCrescenzo (3000 steeplechase). Both of them have worn the USA uniform before at the World Cross Country Championships, but to qualify in outdoor track & field is a whole different level of achievement. Neither Bauhs nor DiCrescenzo were heralded as future stars when they graduated from successful collegiate careers. But, thanks to the various elite training groups that now exist around the USA, they have continued to train with the goal of making a World Championship or Olympics. It’s taken persistence and a lot of commitment for both Bauhs and DiCrescenzo, and it was all worthwhile when their dreams came true at the 2011 USA Championships.
Twenty-five year old Bauhs runs for the Mammoth Track Club and is coached by Terrence Mahon. In high school, he ran at San Ramon Valley High School. His freshman PR’s were 5:01 (1600) and 11:00 (3200). He graduated with PR’s of 4:16 and 9:09. He was second at the State Meet in the 3200. Bauhs first burst on the national scene in the fall of 2007. While redshirting the fall cross country season for Chico State he was the top American finisher at the San Jose Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon, running 1:03:04. In February 2008 he placed tenth at the USA Cross Country Championships to earn a spot on the USA team for the World Cross Country Championships. At the 2008 Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford, Bauhs ran a race that he himself describes as perfect. His time of 27:48.06 was a new division II collegiate record. Since that 27:48 race Bauhs has had subpar races at the USA Championships – sixteenth in 2008, did not finish in 2009, thirteenth in 2010. He seemed to be stuck on the cusp of national success but not actually there.
In the men’s 10,000 at the 2011 USA Championships, the pace was painfully slow. I’ve seen it described as a 9200 meter warm-up for an 800 meter sprint. The first mile was 4:38. After 5000 meters the split was 14:40. Even after 8000 meters of the race, the pace was projecting for a 29:10. Note that the World Championship “B” standard is 28:00, which means the group was more than capable of running 14:00 for the first 5000 or 4:28 per mile. Seventeen of the twenty-two runners who started the race, were still in contention with two laps to go. With one lap to go it was a seven person race and Bauhs was in contention for a top three finish. I figured that Galen Rupp and Matt Tegenkamp would secure the top two places, and they did, by running 1:52 and 1:54 for their last two laps. The battle in this race was for third. By running what I’ve been told was his 800 PR (about 1:54.5), Bauhs claimed the coveted third place and a spot on the team to Daegu.
DiCrescenzo graduated from Columbia in 2005 after winning several Ivy League titles. She was the 2007 USATF Cross Country Club Nationals Champion and a member of the USA team for the 2009 Cross Country World Championships. However, she was probably more known for the hit song, Hey There Delilah written and performed by Tim Higgenson, lead singer of the Plain White T’s. She even appeared with the band at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Not wanting to be famous only for having that song written about her, DiCrescenzo has kept pursuing her dreams of being an Olympian. She is one of only two Puma-sponsored US track & field athletes and is coached by Frank Gagliano. She’s a member of the NJ-NY Track Club. Her teammates include Erin Donohue, Julie Culley (the runner who went to the 2009 World Championships in Bizzarri’s place), Frances Koons, and Christine Whelan (a Bay Area native from Archbishop Mitty). Over the years DiCrescenzo has qualified for the USA steeplechase final but, never been in the top three when it counted. She was third in 2006 (a non-World Championship/non-Olympic year), did not compete in 2007, fourteenth (last) in 2008, ninth in 2009, and ninth in the 5000 in 2010 (she did not run the steeplechase).
At the 2011 USA Championships, a pack of five broke away from the group with two laps remaining. Sara Hall fell off from that pack with about 600 meters to go and it became a four person battle for the three spots to Daegu. Bridget Franek and Emma Coburn pulled away slightly and ultimately took the top two spots. When DiCrescenzo stuttered on the penultimate water jump, Stephanie Garcia, the NCAA runner-up from Virginia, seized the opportunity and moved into third place. DiCrescenzo gave chase but it looked like she may have to settle for fourth. On the last water jump, however, Garcia fell into the water pit and this time it was DiCrescenzo who seized the opportunity, kicking hard down the final straightaway to claim the coveted third place and a spot on the team to Daegu.
Puma has really hit the marketing jackpot with DiCrescenzo. Before the USA Championships they build an advertising campaign (DELILAH – Series) around her, and had a camera crew follow her to film episode one of the series at the USA Championships. I applaud Puma both for getting some great track level footage of the steeplechase including Coach Gags’ reactions during the race, and also for not showing Garcia’s fall on the last water jump when DiCrescenzo moved into third place. It was a big moment for DiCrescenzo but a devastating moment for Garcia, one that she probably would not want replayed over and over in a Puma video. The DELILAH – Series rolls on, with new episodes every week as DiCrescenzo trains in New York, races in Europe, and ends her summer racing at the World Championships.
Go Team USA! Good luck in Daegu!