The World Athletics Calendar: Why You Should Use it and What Could Go Wrong if You Don’t
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Constien Wins Record-Breaking Steeplechase at U.S. Olympic Trials
EUGENE, ORE. (27-Jun) -- With the two standard bearers of American women's steeplechasing out with injuries, the final at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Track & Field figured to be an evenly matched contest featuring several strong contenders. The race delivered on that promise, with Val Constien ultimately dominating an exceptionally deep event thanks to a blistering final lap of the Hayward Field track. She'll be heading to her second Olympic Games, joined in Paris by second and third place finishers Courtney Wayment and Marisa Howard. Annie Rodenfels was the early leader, opening a gap of as much as 40 meters on the pack through the 1000-meter mark (3:00.53). It wasn't until about 1800 meters that the field finally swallowed her up, led by Wayment, Howard and Olivia Markezich, the recent Notre Dame grad. Wayment continued to press the pace, hitting the 2000 in 6:08.53 as the field began to string out. Finally, with 300 meters to go, Constien swung wide and surged to the front. She was unstoppable from there, cruising home in 9:03.22, a meet record. "I'm a pretty good closer, and so I knew if I knew if I was in the mix in the last 300 it would be tough to beat me," said Constien, who missed most of the 2023 season with a knee injury. "I'm getting confident in my kick and so I knew I had it in me." In the battle behind her, Markezich stumbled off the final water barrier but regrouped and chased Howard and Wayment into the homestretch. Unfortunately, Markezich fell after clearing the last barrier and went down hard on her chest as Wayment (9:06.50) passed Howard (9:07.14) for the runner-up spot.  Markezich ended up sixth in 9:14.87. The top nine finishers recorded personal bests, including Gabbi Jennings (9:12.08), Kaylee Mitchell (9:14.05), Markezich (9:14.87), Allie Ostrander (9:21.82), Rodenfels (9:22.66) and Lexy Halladay (9:22.77). Defending U.S. champ Krissy Gear dropped out after five laps. The race saw major revisions made to the U.S. all-time list, led by Constien, who is now the third-fastest American behind Courtney Frerichs (8:57.77) and Emma Coburn (9:02.35). Frerichs, the Olympic silver medalist in Tokyo, and Coburn, the 2017 world champion who won 10 national titles between 2011 and 2022, both suffered freak injuries this spring and were forced to miss the meet. "Emma and Courtney Frerichs paved the way. Without them we wouldn't have such a high bar," said Constien, who was a teammate of the duo at the 2021 Olympics. "Everyone's inspired by them, and without them there's no way that we could have done what we did here today." Constien's performance capped a remarkable comeback from ACL surgery in May 2023 following an awkward landing at the Doha Diamond League race. She practiced patience with her recovery, resuming running last September, but as recently as April she didn't even expect to be at the Trials, much less contend for an Olympic berth.  A personal best of 9:14.29 at the Prefontaine Classic on May 25, ultimately had her thinking she could actually be a factor in the race. "I never pushed myself. I really just listened to my body, and I was extra picky, took it day by day, did my PT and it just came together at the right time," Constien of her rehab. "But it was really patience. I didn't have to do anything crazy to get here." Wayment, who finished fourth at the 2021 Trials, was confident in her ability to close out the race. "With 300 to go I really relied on my training and I knew we worked very hard to make sure that I could wind down the last couple of laps," she said. "It was crazy to see that there were so many people still there. It's exciting, definitely a fun last 300 meters." Earlier in the evening, all the key contenders in the men's 800 advanced from the first round, with the top six in each heat (plus three time qualifiers) moving on to Friday’s semifinals. Part-time training partners Bryce Hoppel (1:46.83) and Hobbs Kessler (1:46.85) slapped hands in celebration after crossing the line first and second in the opening section. (Kessler had already qualified for Paris in the 1500.) NCAA runner-up Sam Whitmarsh (1:46.13) of Texas A&M, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy (1:47.05) and Tinoda Matsatsa (1:46.73) won the other sections. Shane Cohen of the University of Virginia, who took the NCAA title on this track in early June, was seventh entering the homestretch of the fourth heat, but accelerated well to finish third. "I felt strong. The race plan wasn't exactly executed. I was confident with 200 meters I was gonna be fine to make it through to the next rounds," he said. "Legs were definitely a little heavy from not racing for three weeks. It was definitely nice to be out there and get a good race under my belt." Advancing out of the women’s 1500 heats were all three members of the 2021 Olympic team: Elle St. Pierre, Cory McGee and Heather MacLean. Friday's semifinals will also feature Nikki Hiltz, Sinclaire Johnson, Emily Mackay and Elise Cranny, who made the 5000 team on Monday along with St. Pierre. Sage Hurta-Klecker, who finished fifth in Monday's 800 after being thrown off balance in the wake of the collision that sent Athing Mu to the ground, finished second to McGee in the first section. "I knew right away that I was going to come back, but easier said than done, especially coming back to what feels like a secondary event to me, but just trying to bring that self-confidence from the 8 into what used to be my main event," said Hurta-Klecker, who was the NCAA indoor mile champion in 2021 but has focused on the 800 over the past few years. The outpouring of support she’s received on social media and in person in Eugene have helped her regroup. "I can use all that positive energy," she said. Capping off the evening, the men’s 5000 heats featured the winners of the 1500 (Cole Hocker) and 10,000 (Grant Fisher) from earlier in the meet. Hocker languished in the back of the first section for most of the way before moving to the front at the bell. He covered the last lap in 53.11 to win in 13:33.45, followed by NCAA champion Parker Wolfe (13:33.96) of North Carolina, Cooper Teare (13:34.07), Morgan Beadlescomb (13:34.34), Olin Hacker (13:34.72) and Graham Blanks (13:35.00). In the second heat, Fisher camped out in second place most of the way, until 2023 national champ Abdihamid Nur moved to the lead with two laps to go, shaking up the pack. Woody Kincaid (13:23.91), who already qualified for Paris in the 10,000, used his trademark closing speed to pass Nur (13:24.14) shortly before the line and take the win. Fisher (13:24.78), Dylan Jacobs (13:24.91), Sam Prakel (13:25.01) and Sean McGorty (13:25.05) took the remaining automatic spots for Sunday's final.   PHOTO: Val Constien sprinting to victory in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)  
Hocker, St. Pierre and Akins Claim U.S. Olympic Trials Titles
(c) 2024 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Published with permission. EUGENE, ORE. (24-Jun) -- On a frenetic night at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Track & Field, Cole Hocker and Elle St. Pierre won their events to secure their second Olympic berths, while a chaotic women’s 800 saw a team of newbies book their spots for Paris. The 800 was the final event of the evening at Hayward Field, a showcase for defending Olympic champion Athing Mu. But just as the pack reached the 200-meter mark, with Kristie Schoffield leading, Mu's long legs tangled with Raevyn Rogers's as she moved towards the rail and the New Jersey native fell to the track. By the time she got to her feet she was more than three seconds behind the leaders. Sage Hurta-Klecker had to sidestep the carnage, losing her balance, but staying upright. "I just knew somebody went down, and I was just tunnel vision focused on finishing the race," said reigning national champion Nia Akins who had fallen in the 2021 Olympic Trials. Michaela Rose took control from Schoffield before 400 (57.68) and held the lead as they headed down the backstretch. Just before 600 meters Akins grabbed the lead and steadily pulled away. None of the other women could mount a challenge and the Penn grad won in a personal best of 1:57.36. "I honestly wasn't even thinking," said Akins.  "I just felt it in my spirit to just go for it, and then went. I was like, I hope that works and we were able to pull it off." In the final 100 meters, Allie Wilson and NCAA champion Juliette Whittaker of Stanford battled for the runner-up spot, with Wilson prevailing, 1:58.32 to 1:58.45. Both women got under the Olympic qualifying standard (1:59.30) for the first time. Rose (1:59.32) finished fourth, while Hurta-Klecker (2:00.38) rallied for fifth. Schoffield (2:01.04) finished sixth, ahead of Olympic bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers (2:01.12) and Kate Grace (2:02.37). Mu jogged the final 200 meters, crossing the line tearfully in 2:19.69. In the men's 1500 final, American-record holder Yared Nuguse used a front-running strategy he believed best suited his strength, pushing the tempo through 400 (56.64) and 800 (1:55.73). Behind him, Hobbs Kessler and Vincent Ciattei established --and protected-- their positions. Nuguse still led at 1200 (2:51.33), but moments later Hocker stormed down the backstretch and jumped to a lead he would not surrender. Hocker’s winning time of 3:30.59 smashed the meet record. Nuguse (3:30.86) and Kessler (3:31.53 PB) took the next two spots on the team.  Ciattei (3:31.78), Nathan Green (3:32.20), Henry Wynne (3:32.94), Joe Waskom (3:33.74) and Elliott Cook (3:33.84) followed, all setting PBs. "I was kinda floating in the outside of lane one, I was comfortable there," said Hocker, a former University of Oregon star who finished sixth in the Tokyo Olympics. "I was like, if this is the pace that we're going, I'm happy being here." He defeated Nuguse for the first time since the 2021 Olympic Trials. "I like to win and I definitely want to be the fastest American at the very least," said Hocker, who will contest the 5000 later in the week. "It just happens that one of the best guys in the world is American. But it feels good to win for sure." Nuguse had no regrets for his tactics, even if he couldn't find the final gear needed to win. "I wanted to run a race that I felt like was my race, and I think just really going out and hammering it was the way to go," said Nuguse, who qualified for the Tokyo Games but had to withdraw at the last minute due to a freak quadricep injury he suffered in Japan. "Today Cole got the better of me, but it just shows how good a team is going to be heading into Paris." Kessler, who competed at the 2021 Trials as a high school phenom, was grateful to fulfill the expectations that had followed him the past three years. "I just felt like ever since I signed pro, this is the race that we were all looking to, [that we] figured I would be developed enough and it was my time to start competing on the world stage," he said. "It was a lot of pressure. I'm really proud of how I managed it. The race was hard, Vince was close, but I'm super happy, super relieved, couldn't wait to get this over with." In the women’s 5000, NCAA standout Parker Valby set an honest early tempo through the 1000 (3:00.23) and 2000 (5:58.89), stringing out the field. By 3000 (8:57.57) the pack was down to six: Valby, Elle St. Pierre, Elise Cranny, Karissa Schweizer, Rachel Smith and Whittni Morgan.  They were on pace to all get below the Olympic Games qualifying standard of 14:52.00. As the pace steadily picked up, Smith and Morgan drifted back and it was down to a four-woman race for three Olympic spots. Valby still led at 4000 (11:56.14), but less than 200 meters later, with two laps to go, St. Pierre surged to the front, pulling Cranny and Schweizer with her. Cranny unsuccessfully tried to pass St. Pierre on the final backstretch, so she waited until the final 100 meters to try again. The pair ran side by side to the finish until St. Pierre (14:40.34) held on for the win by a mere two hundredths of a second. "I was relying a bit on my 1500-meter speed," said St. Pierre, who returned from a maternity break this season to resume her status as the top American miler. "I knew it was gonna be a sit-and-kick race, so I had confidence going into the last lap that I could be right there for the finish no matter how fast it went." In addition to her 1500/mile dominance, St. Pierre has flexed her distance muscles this year by winning the gold medal in the 3000 at the world indoor championships in March and lowering her 5000 personal best to 14:34.12 in May (making her the fifth fastest American of all time). Given that the 5000 and 1500 are spaced out at the Trials, a double is feasible. "I had a bit of a change of heart, I didn't originally want to (double)," she admitted. "I think it was a great opportunity. I made my first world team in the 5000 in Doha [in 2019] and to be able to do both here is pretty awesome. I didn't want to give up the opportunity. I think it would have been hard to sit home and watch the 5000 go by. There are enough days to recover and I'm just happy to do both." Though Cranny's string of three straight U.S. titles in the event came to an end, she was pleased to be on her second Olympic team. "It was incredible to race against her," she said of St. Pierre. "We've been watching her run so fast earlier this year, and just the season she's been having, getting the gold medal indoors I was excited to race her because she’s definitely elevating women’s distance running." Schweizer (14:45.12) held on to the third spot on the team, while Valby was rewarded for her hard work with a personal best (14:51.44). Significantly, she dipped under the Olympic qualifying time (14:52.00). Should any of the top three qualify in another event over the second weekend of the Trials, a spot in the 5000 could open up. The women’s 3000-meter steeplechase prelims, also held on Monday, were without 10-time national champion Emma Coburn and Olympic silver medalist Courtney Frerichs, who suffered injuries earlier in the year. In their absence, all the key contenders in a well-matched field moved on to Thursday's final. Kaylee Mitchell won the first heat in 9:29.54, followed by 2021 Olympian Valerie Constien (9:29.61) and Courtney Wayment (9:29.66). Gabbi Jennings (9:23.88) took the second section, followed by Marisa Howard (9:26.38) and Olivia Markezich (9:26.67). Defending U.S. champion Krissy Gear finished sixth after fading mid-race, but grabbed one of the time qualifiers (9:30.92). PHOTO: Cole Hocker winning the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials 1500m in a Trials record 3:30.59 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
With Powerful Close, Fisher Wins U.S. Olympic Trials 10,000m
(c) 2024 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Published with permission. EUGENE, ORE. (21-Jun) -– Grant Fisher surged to the front with less than three laps to go to decisively break open the men's 10,000 meters on the first night of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Track & Field. The American record holder was followed across the line at Hayward Field by Woody Kincaid and Nico Young, who will join him in Paris. It was an honest race from the start with Conner Mantz --already on the Olympic team in the marathon-- setting the tempo. He was followed by a single file procession of Young, Fisher, Kincaid, Paul Chelimo and Andrew Colley.  In the early laps, Mantz was towing the field at a sub-27:00 pace. Chelimo briefly went to the lead after 4200 meters, but Mantz surged ahead half a lap later. By halfway the pace had slowed enough to allow the main chase pack of Sam Chelanga, Drew Hunter, Casey Clinger and Ryan Ford to latch onto back of the lead group. Chelanga, 38, went to the lead at 6600 meters and opened up a small gap, but a kilometer later Young was up front. Chelimo briefly took control with three laps to go, but his challenge was short lived. With two and a half laps remaining, Fisher made his move and the field was unable to respond. As the pack broke apart, Kincaid, Young and Hunter remained in the hunt for the final two roster spots. Hunter, who does not have the Olympic qualifying standard, was the odd man out in the final half lap. Fisher won in 27:49.47, well clear of a fast-closing Kincaid (27:50.74) and Young (27:52.40). Hunter, the former high school record holder in the indoor mile, was fourth in 27:53.35, followed by Clinger (27:59.71) and Mantz (28:00.90). Chelimo, a two-time Olympic medalist in the 5000, faded badly and came home 10th in 28:18.31. "This definitely is validation," Fisher said, referring to his decision to part ways with the Bowerman Track Club last year and reunite with his former high school coach, Mike Scannell. "When I mapped out the year with my coach, we had an indoor plan, we had an outdoor plan, the overarching goal was to get on the team." At last year's USA championships, Fisher was fighting an injury and finished fourth, one spot off making the team for the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. "I missed the team last year, super disappointing to watch Budapest from the couch. So to be back on the team feels really good. We targeted this race not as a qualifier, but I wanted to win. And I wanted to do it dominantly, and I wanted to show myself that I'm still the best guy in the country." He will also attempt to make the team in the 5000 meters when that event begins next week. Kincaid said he missed about 10 days of training in late April with an injury, so wasn't sure what to expect in this race. "Nobody likes coming into the Olympic Trials having not raced in three months," he said. "Even at 31 I thought I would be more confident coming in, but nope, still nervous." Still, he knew his closing speed was his not-so-secret-weapon (he closed in 55.8 seconds). "I would like to have not relied on the kick, but that's what it comes down to when you're trying to make an Olympic team," said Kincaid, the 2021 Trials champion. "When it got to 200 to go and I saw out of the corner of my eye on the screen who was still with me I was like, it's time to burn it." Young, who like Kincaid is coached by Northern Arizona University's Mike Smith, was pleased with his effort, capping off a year that saw him win NCAA indoor titles in the 3000 and 5000 and set collegiate records in the 5000 (12:57.14 indoors) and 10,000 (26:52.72). "I kinda wish I felt better out there today," he said. "It was good enough for today, so I'm happy with that." Earlier in the evening there were first round heats in the women's 800 and 5000 and the men's 1500 and 3000-meter steeplechase. Athing Mu, the defending Olympic champion in the women's 800, looked comfortable in her first race since September. The New Jersey native, who had been struggling with hamstring issues, opened her 2024 season with a third-place finish in her heat (the top six advanced) in 2:01.73. "The main thing is just competing with other athletes," she said. "Here being three rounds, that's plenty of time to get acquainted with the event once again and just feel for what it's like to be in a fast 800." Louisiana State University's Michaela Rose had the fastest time of the day (1:59.57), running a blistering opening lap of 56.50 and holding on to win her heat easily. Also advancing were Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers (a crowd favorite thanks to her time at the University of Oregon), defending U.S. champion Nia Akins, two-time Olympian Ajee' Wilson, reigning national indoor champion Allie Wilson, Sage Hurta-Klecker, and NCAA champion Juliette Whittaker of Stanford (representing On Running here). Northern Arizona's Colin Sahlman (3:38.67) and world road mile champion Hobbs Kessler (3:37.50) won the first two tightly bunched heats, while Cole Hocker asserted a bit more authority on his section, winning from the front in 3:34.54. Kessler was at or near the lead for most of his race, with defending U.S. champion Yared Nuguse taking over in the second half. "I'm comfortable in the lead, especially at 60-second pace, it's pretty chill," said Kessler, who made his professional debut at the 2021 Trials at age 18, fresh out of high school. "Just trying to work on my positioning through these rounds. Happy with a little experience leading and happy that Yared took over for a little bit too, to practice my positioning relative to someone. I have a habit of getting stuck to the rail, and that leaves you with nowhere to go, so trying to break that habit." Matthew Centrowitz, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist, was a late scratch. "Unfortunately I won't be having the fairytale ending I was hoping to have this week at my fourth Olympic Trials," he wrote in a social media post that revealed an illness after the Los Angeles Grand Prix in May, followed by a hamstring strain. "I ran out of time. My hamstring still won't allow me to run race pace intervals. But I am able to jog now. It's not goodbye. It's see ya later." After letting NCAA champion Parker Valby do most of the leading in the first heat of the women's 5000, world indoor 3000 champion Elle St. Pierre blasted to the front and won in 15:13.82, followed by Karisa Schweizer (15:15.42) and Valby (15:17.56). Though St. Pierre is heavily favored to make her second Olympic team in the 1500, she chose to do the double following an impressive personal best (14:34.12) in May. "It was going to be hard to sit back and watch the 5K go by and then show up for the 15," she said. "You should take every opportunity that you have, and I did well in the 5K this year and had fun doing it, and so I wanted to come out here and do the 5K and 15. It's full circle, because I made my first world team in the 5K [in 2019] and then I went to the Olympics [in 2021] in the 1500." The second section was considerably slower, but Elise Cranny (16:02.33) looked impressive in covering the final 1600 meters in 4:29.32. That heat was also notable for the return of Katelyn Tuohy, who was racing for the first time since November's NCAA cross country championships. The former N.C. State star advanced with a 16:09.22 clocking and was pleased with her effort after battling a series of injuries over the last eight months. "It was an interesting race, probably the hardest 16-minute 5K of my life," she said. "I was happy with how I hung on. It's hard to run that way. I'm still not sure what kind of shape I'm in." The men's steeplechase semis were won by Matthew Wilkinson (8:20.61) and defending U.S. champion Kenneth Rooks (8:26.90). Also moving on was 2016 Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager and 2021 Olympian Benard Keter. NCAA champion Parker Stokes of Georgetown finished 10th in his heat and did not advance. Mason Ferlic, an Olympian three years ago, was a late scratch, revealing a hamstring tear in an Instagram post. "This is not the first time I've been knocked down," he wrote, "and won't be the last time I get back up." PHOTO: Grant Fisher wins the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials 10,000m title in Eugene, Ore. (Photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)