Hastings, Bizzarri also qualify for world championships.
Written by: Matt Fitzgerald
Molly Huddle unleashed a savage kick in the last lap of the women’s 5,000-meter final at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships to turn a tight race into a rout here at Hayward Field on Friday evening. Covering the final 400 meters in a blistering 63.9 seconds, Huddle broke away from Amy Hastings and Angela Bizzarri to win in 15:10.01. Hastings hung tough to finish an impressive second only three months after making a successful marathon debut in Los Angeles, where she ran 2:27:03 for second place.
The American record holder for 5,000m (14:44.76), Huddle joined a field decimated by late scratches (Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher, amongst others) and filled with women racing on tired legs after competing in the previous night’s 10,000m final (Desiree Davila, Jen Rhines) as the clear woman to beat. And she took advantage of that status.
“I knew the other girls knew that if I made a move, they had to give me the benefit of the doubt,” she said.
Huddle bided her time before she made that move, though, allowing Davila and others to set an honest, but not especially aggressive, pace of just under 75 seconds per lap through the first half of the race. “It was a good pace, pretty smooth,” Bizzarri said afterward. She was not the only runner content with it.
At 2800 meters, expecting a surge that no one was quite willing to make, Rhines and others began to jockey for position near the front. Hastings made the first move, but later regretted it. “I think I might have tried to take the lead a little early,” she said.
Huddle took the lead with four laps remaining and began a ruthless, gradual acceleration of the pace. A 71.4 lap with three to go reduced the lead pack to four, with Rhines still hanging on with the eventual top three. With 600 meters to go, Huddle exploded, opening up a gap of 20 meters seemingly instantaneously. She closed the race with a sub-64-second lap to seal the deal.
Hastings’ runner-up time was 15:14.31, a personal best. Bizzarri, a three-time NCAA champion, was just under two ticks behind, at 15:16.04, also a personal best.
Next up for Huddle, who trains under Providence College coach Ray Treacy, is some heat training to prepare for the world championships in sultry Daegu, South Korea. Hastings plans to race a couple more 5K’s in Europe. “I want to go after that 15-minute barrier,” she said.