Many athletes hit Olympic Trials and Olympic standards.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
LOS ANGELES — Athletes come to Occidental College every spring for one reason: to run fast. Whether you’re a collegian looking for a U.S. Olympic Team Trials qualifier, or a pro looking the Olympic “A” standard, you show up with this goal in mind. At the 2012 USATF Occidental High Performance Meet on Friday night, America’s best tucked in to fast times in one of the first tests of their Olympic aspirations.
The women’s 3000-meter steeplechase was the first distance in contention in the meet, which kicked off at 6:30 p.m. with a setting sun and light breeze. Only one woman would dip under the Olympic “A” standard of 9:43.00, which was heat-two winner Bridget Franek of the Oregon Track Club Elite. Franek has a PR of 9:32.35 set in 2010. Behind her was the New Jersey New York Track Club’s Ashley Higginson, whose 9:46.83 was under the Olympic “B” standard of 9:48.0. Beverly Ramos and Higginson’s NJNY-TC teammate Delilah DiCrescenzo were also under the “B” standard. Heat one was taken by Jamie Cheever of the Mammoth Track Club in 9:52.15.
For the men, the steeplechase was not won by a veteran but by a relative newcomer, Donn Cabral of Princeton. Cabral kicked past Dan Huling in the second of two heats, 8:19.14 to 8:20.81. Cabral’s previous best was 8:32.14, and his new mark stands as the American Collegiate Record, breaking Weber State’s Farley Gerber’s mark of 8:19.27, set in 1984. Cabral would lead three other men under the Olympic “A” standard of 8:23.10, including Kyle Alcorn (8:20.86) and Evan Jager (8:20.90). Justin Tyner of the Falcon Distance Project won the first heat in 8:33.98.
Next up was the women’s 800m, which saw wins by Geena Gall, Molly Beckwith, and Katie Palmer, with Gall of the Oregon Track Club Elite running the fastest time of the evening in 2:00.44, with Alice Schmidt, last year’s third place finisher at the U.S. Championships, next in 2:00.79. Beckwith, who set the current nation-leading time of 1:59.51 last week in the Diamond League meet in Qatar, won her heat in 2:01.24. Palmer would run 2:02.77. No women would go under the Olympic “A” standard of 1:59.9.
In the men’s 800m, Lacklan Renshaw, Brandon Johnson, Tyler Mulder, and Geoff Harris won their respective heats, with Mulder of the Oregon Track Club Elite running the fastest time of 1:45.68 seconds, just missing the Olympic “A” standard of 1:45.60. No men would meet the mark. Mulder has a 1:44.83 career best, set in 2010. Johnson would win his heat in 1:46.61, followed by 2008 Olympic trials runner-up Andrew Wheating, who spent much of the winter battling a hamstring injury. Renshaw and Harris would claim their heats in 1:46.61 and 1:47.37, respectively.
Moving up to the 1500m, Gabriele Anderson took down 2011 Diamond League 1500m Champion Morgan Uceny in heat one with a PR 4:06.46 over Uceny’s 4:06.52. Shannon Rowbury then won the next heat in a U.S.-leading 4:05.92, followed closely by Anna Pierce in 4:06.11. Pierce had previously set the U.S.-leading mark of 4:07.0 at the Payton Jordan Invitational in April. Rowbury was the only woman to meet the Olympic “A” standard of 4:06.00. Kim Conley won the third heat in 4:14.00.
In the men’s 1500m, 2011 World Championships 5000m gold medalist Mo Farah and Nike Oregon Project teammate Galen Rupp ran the fastest two times of the night in the same heat, with Farah taking the win in 3:34.66 to Rupp’s 3:34.75. Former NCAA 800m champ Robby Andrews was in third in 3:34.78. In heat two, Nate Brannen took down four-time U.S. 800m Champion Nick Symmonds, 3:35.88 to 3:36.04. For the second time on five days, Brannen came close to the Olympic “A” standard but missed it. Heat three saw the reemergence of Jamal Aarrass of France for the win in 3:34.85 over David Torrence in 3:35.41. Aarrass served a two-year doping suspension from 2005 to 2007, but was the winner of the Puma Mile at the Mt. Sac Relays in April in 3:52.21. Raul Botezan of Oklahoma State University won heat four in 3:41.14. In total, five men were under the Olympic “A” standard of 3:35.50.
The women’s 5000m saw Jackie Areson continue her 2012 dominance, moving past early leader Deena Kastor with 500m to go. Lisa Uhl of the Oregon Track Club would move with her and attempt to challenge, but would settle for second, 15:15.22 to Areson’s 15:14.31. Both were under the Olympic “A” standard of 15:20.0, though Areson had already achieved the standard with a win at the Stanford Invitational in early April. Kastor, who has a 14:51.62 best set in 2000, was third in 15:23.51.
In the final event of the night, the men’s 5000m was taken by Farah again, who was initially rumored to be pacing teammate and former American record-holder at the distance Dathan Ritzenhein. Farah would outkick the field for the win in 13:12.87. Mexico’s Juan Luis Barrios was next in 13:13.54, followed by former NCAA 10,000m champ Sam Chelanga, who has since joined the Oregon Track Club Elite, in 13:14.05. Ritzenhein was fourth in 13:14.72. All four men were under the Olympic “A” standard of 13:20.00.