It’s been a rough summer for Team USA. Since the end of the USA Championships in Eugene eight weeks ago on June 26 no less than thirteen athletes who were originally planning to compete at the World Championships will not be in Daegu wearing the red, white, and blue.
Five athletes have suffered injuries:
Jeremy Wariner, men’s 400 meters. Wariner tore a ligament in his second toe. Jamaal Torrence, who was fourth at the USA Champs, will replace Wariner in the open 400. Miles Smith, who was sixth at the USA Champs, was added to the 4X400 relay pool to replace Wariner (Torrence was already in the relay pool).
Debbie Dunn, women’s 400 meters. Dunn has a stress fracture in her left foot. Jessica Beard, who was fourth at the USA Champs replaces Dunn in the open 400. Keshia Baker, who was seventh at the USA Champs, was added to the 4X400 relay pool to replace Dunn (Beard was already in the relay pool).
Delilah DiCrescenzo, women’s steeplechase. DiCrescenzo has an unspecified injury. Stephanie Garcia, who at the USA Champs was leading DiCrescenzo in the battle for third place up until the final water jump, replaces DiCrescenzo.
Chris Solinsky, men’s 5000 meters. Solinsky tweeted that he injured his hamstring during a speed workout. Solinsky’s Oregon Track Club Elite teammate, Andy Bumbalough, fourth at the USA Champs, will replace Solinsky.
Brian Clay, men’s decathlon. Clay has a knee injury. No replacement was named for Clay.
Seven athletes failed to achieve the necessary World Championship standard and were thus replaced:
Kyle Alcorn, men’s steeplechase. Alcorn missed the World Championship A standard by 0.17 seconds (standard: 8:23.10; Alcorn ran: 8:23.27). Since Daniel Huling, who placed ahead of Alcorn at the USA Champs was going to the World Championships with a B standard only, Alcorn was not elgible. Ben Bruce, who was fifth at the 2011 USA Champs but has the World Championship A standard with his 8:19.10 from a meet in Barcelona in late July, replaces Alcorn.
Angela Bizzarri, women’s 5000 meters. Bizzarri did not achieve the World Championship A standard (15:14.00) and since Amy Hastings, who placed ahead of her is already going to the World Champs with a B standard, Bizzarri was not eligible. Bizzarri missed by 2.31 seconds, running 15:16.31 at the USA Champs. Lauren Fleshman, who was eighth at the USA Champs but ran a World Championship A standard of 15:00.57 at Crystal Palace in London will replace Bizzarri. In 2009 Bizzarri also placed in the top three at the USA Champs but did not compete at the World Championships because she did not get a qualifying time.
Nick Mossberg, men’s pole vault. Mossberg’s best of 5.55 meters was not good enough for the World Championship B standard (5.60 meters). Mark Hollis, who was fourth at the 2011 USA Champs but has a 5.70 meter clearance from a meet in July, replaces Mossberg.
Jeremy Hicks, men’s long jump. Hicks needed to achieve the A standard (8.20 meters) because Marquise Goodwin (8.17 meters), the USA Champion, qualified for the World Championships with a B standard only (8.10 meters). Hick’s best mark ended up being 7.97 meters. Trevell Quinley, who was fifth at the 2011 USA Champs but jumped 8.21 meters this season (one centimeter over the A standard), replaced Hicks.
Keelin Godsey, women’s hammer. Godsey’s throw of 68.90 did not meet the World Championship B standard (69.50). Jeneva McCall, who was fourth at the 2011 USA Champs but has the World Championship B mark with her 69.55 meter throw, replaces Godsey.
Ryann Krais and Chantae McMillan, women’s heptathlon. Krais and McMillan needed to achieve the A standard (6150 points) because Sharon Day (6058 points), the USA Champion, qualified for the World Championships with a B standard only (5950 points). The window for qualifying in the heptathlon was January 1, 2010 through August 15, 2011 but during that period Krais’ best was 6030 points and McMillan’s best was 6003 points. Hyleas Fountain, who was sixth at the 2011 USA Champs, but has a World Championship A standard of 6735 points (from 2010), joins Day on the USA team in the heptathlon.
Two athletes have legal issues:
Michael Rodgers, men’s 100 meters. Rodgers voluntarily withdrew from the World Championships and accepted a provisional suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after he tested positive for the stimulant methylhexamine. The use of this stimulant is against the rules but Rodgers has been quick to point out that he was not taking steroids. Trell Kimmons, fourth at the USA Champs, will replace Rodgers in the open 100. A replacement for Rodgers in the 4X100 relay pool was not named.
Jeremy Dodson, men’s 200 meters. Dodson finds himself embroiled in a legal issue one week before the start of the World Championships. He was arrested on suspicion of identity theft. He is free on $10,000 bail and has a hearing scheduled for Friday, August 26. His passport has been confiscated by the authorities and it’s unclear if he will be able to compete. Maurice Mitchell is the alternate for Dodson in the 200 meters.
There are still a few more days before the start of the 2011 World Championships. Hopefully there will be no more drama with the Team USA roster and the focus can shift from injuries, standards, and the law to good old track & field competition.
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!
In the distance events, 800, 1500, 3000 steeplechase, 5000, and 10,000, the USA will send twenty-nine athletes to the World Championships in Daegu. The majority of the distance team (twenty of them) are what I would call veterans, people who have competed at international championships before. Three are college runners, who in addition to competing all spring for their college and competing at the NCAA Championships, managed to place in the top three at the USA Championships to extend their season another two months. Four are first-timers but I think they will become regular wearers of the TEAM USA jersey. Two others are first-timers who in my mind had breakthrough performances at the USA Championships to qualify for what the people in Track Town USA like to call, “the hardest team to make.”
Before naming the veterans, let me ask you a trivia question. No fair looking anything up. Off the top of your head, name the nine (9) USA distance runners who have qualified for the last four international championships (2007 Osaka, 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2009 Berlin, and 2011 Daegu). Ready? Go! Tick-tick-tick-tock.
You probably got Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, and Bernard Lagat right off. You’ve definitely been paying attention if you got Matt Tegenkamp and Nick Symmonds. It’s hard to believe but Galen Rupp and Jenny (Barringer) Simpson also qualified for all four championships, three of them while they were still in college. The often over-looked Jennifer Rhines makes this list, too. Rhines may be overshadowed by the more marketed Flanagan and Goucher, but you cannot deny that Rhines is tough as nails and knows how to run a gutsy race in order to make the team. The ninth member of this exclusive club is Leo Manzano, another scrappy and tough runner who comes through at the championship races (and I’m not just saying that because he’s Shannon Rowbury’s teammate).
Other veterans who will compete in Daegu are:
Kyle Alcorn – ’09, ‘11
- Bridget Franek – ’09, ‘11
- Daniel Huling – ’09, ‘11
- William Nelson – ’08, ‘11
- Khadevis Robinson – ’07, ’09, ‘11
- Shannon Rowbury – ’08, ’09, ‘11
- Chris Solinsky – ’09, ‘11
- Maggie Vessey – ’09, ’11
- Andrew Wheating – ’08, ‘11
Two veterans deserve a special mention for making this year’s team. The two were 800 meter teammates on the 2007 team in Osaka. Both also suffered through injuries that threatened to derail their careers.
Alysia (Johnson) Montano was the 2007 USA Champion but injuries essentially wiped out her 2008 Olympic dreams and her 2009 season. She returned to be the 2010 USA Champion and ran the fifth fastest time in US history in 2010, a world-leading 1:57.34. Her win at the 2011 USA Championships to qualify for her second World Championship team, completes her return to the top of the 800 meter world.
Alice Schmidt was a World Championship qualifier in both 2005 and 2007 and competed at the 2008 Olympic Games, but she was not on top of her game at all in 2009 and 2010. In 2009 she was out all season with a stress fracture. In 2010 her best time was only 2:01 and although she qualified for the USA Championships 800 meter final, she did not run the race. It seemed like her time in the upper echelon of USA 800 meter running had come to an end. Schmidt had other plans, and battled back to place third this year and qualify for her third World Championship team.
The College Kids (3)
Every USA Championship seems to produce at least a couple of college runners who qualify for the international championships. College athletes who have been representing their schools by competing in an indoor season, and at invitationals, conference meets, regionals, and—just two weeks before USA’s—at the NCAA Championships (NCAAs). The college kids are race ready but may have tired legs. On the other hand, leading up to the USA Champs, the non-collegians have often only raced a handful of times. When the two groups meet head-to-head, it is a battle between the peaked but potentially worn out college athlete and the more experienced but possibly competition-rusty post-collegiate runner.
Over the last few years, Galen Rupp and Jenny (Barringer) Simpson have insured that at least two college runners would make the team. Rupp and (Barringer) Simpson are what I consider outliers, as it is pretty unusual for a runner to qualify for international championships during their sophomore, junior, and senior years of college. But that’s exactly what they did in 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Here is a list of collegians who have qualified:
2007 – Aaron Aguayo (3000 SC), Lindsay Anderson (3000 SC), Jenny Barringer (3000 SC), Alysia Johnson (800), Leo Manzano (1500), Galen Rupp (10,000), Michelle Sikes (5000), Duane Solomon (800), Anna Willard (3000 SC).
2008 – Jenny Barringer (3000 SC), Leo Manzano (1500), Galen Rupp (10,000), Andrew Wheating (800).
2009 –Jenny Barringer (3000 SC), Bridget Franek (3000 SC), Geena Gall (800), Galen Rupp (10,000), Dorian Ulrey (1500).
In 2011, three collegians made the team. They are Emma Coburn (another Colorado steeplechaser), Matthew Centrowitz Jr. (another Oregon Duck in a middle distance race), and Charles Jock (the front running UC Irvine 800 meter runner, who escaped war torn Sudan with his family at the age of three by walking for nearly two years through Ethiopia and Kenya).
I’ll introduce the First-Timers and the Breakthrough Performers in part two.