Lomong Defends U.S. 1,500-Meter Title

“Everyone out there is a tough customer.  Anyone can strike at any time,” said Lomong, who needed to run a 51.29 second final circuit to get the win.

Fourth-place finisher David Torrence said after making the final for the first time in five tries at these championships: “I’ve been getting more and more confident with my speed and waiting to use it.  Maybe today I was too patient.  I was in the middle of the pack when things really started happening.”  Torrence said he was still unsure if he would run the 1000 meters or a mile at next weekend’s Prefontaine Classic, but “the sky’s the limit – I need to get in each race and try to compete for the win.”

Former American Record holder Lisa Aguilera won the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase in 9:53.59, kicking for the win after NCAA champion Bridget Franek of Penn State led for most of the race.  Aguilera, whose last national title came in 2006, said the race reminded her of 2005 when she qualified for the first World Championships steeplechase at the last water barrier. “After not making the 2008 Olympic team, I wondered if I wanted to keep training,” said Aguilera, who considers herself capable of running in the low 9:30s soon.

Unlike most distance champions at this year’s championships, Daniel Huling won the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase with a long drive that started with several laps remaining.  The men’s steeplechase, like the women’s, went out slowly, and Huling was the first to break from the pack, taking the lead with three laps to go. Huling remained unchallenged for the rest of the race despite a determined attempt to close the gap by Ben Bruce and Josh McAdams; Steve Slattery seized third with a furious last-lap charge.  Huling’s winning time of 8:27.87 was a new Drake stadium record.  The old record of 8:28.26 was held by Kyle Alcorn, who finished sixth.

“My plan was to do kind of like last year,” said Huling. “This year, I just had the strength to do it. I didn’t train that much last year and couldn’t keep it going long enough.”

Nick Symmonds won his third national championship at 800m in his usual style, sitting back off the pace and moving through the pack in the last 200 meters. After UC-Irvine’s Charles Jock led the field through a scorching 50-second opening lap, Symmonds took advantage of the fading leaders to start his move earlier, taking the lead on the final curve and running away from the pack on the homestretch. Duane Solomon gave chase but could not close on Symmonds, who won in 1:45.98 to Solomon’s 1:47.16.

Alysia Johnson led the women’s 800-meter final from start to finish, holding off a closing charge from Maggie Vessey to put up a 1:59.87 winning mark. Vessey took second in 2:00.43 with Phoebe Wright, running her last race in a University of Tennessee uniform, third in 2:00.47.

The 2011 USA Outdoor Championships will be held at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

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