Meet officials declare Shannon Rowbury the winner after several protests.
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ALBUQUERQUE — About three hours after thinking she had won the U.S. indoor 3,000m title, Gabriele Grunewald was disqualified by meet officials. The win would have been Grunewald’s first national title. A statement posted on the USA Track & Field (USATF) website read:
“Several protests were filed in relation to the women’s 3000m final. After two reviews, including enhanced video evidence, Gabe Grunewald was disqualified by the Jury of Appeals for clipping and impeding the stride of Jordan Hasay.”
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As a result, Shannon Rowbury, a Nike athlete, has been declared the winner with Sara Vaughn (Brooks) second and Hasay (Nike) third. Because Vaughn does not have the relevant IAAF qualifying standard for competing in the World Indoor Championships (sub-9:02) Rowbury and Hasay have provisionally earned spots on Team USA for that meet March 7-9 in Sopot, Poland.
Rowbury was in the lead with a lap to go, followed by Hasay, Grunewald and Vaughn. Grunewald surged past Hasay, but Grunewald’s lead leg appeared to have made contact with Hasay’s trailing leg in the process. Hasay stumbled for a stride but quickly lost contact from the top two runners. Grunewald would then unleash a fierce kick, although she stumbled for a stride as she nearly made contact with Rowbury on the backstretch. Grunewald quickly recovered to pass Rowbury and then cruised to the apparent win in 9:23.15. Rowbury held on for second (9:25.49), followed by Vaughn (9:26.46) and Hasay (9:27.40).
(Watch the video here. The controversial moment comes at the 10:10 mark of the video, with just less than a lap to go.)
Moments after the race, Grunewald learned that Hasay’s camp had filed a protest asserting that Grunewald, who sprinted past Hasay on the final lap, had interfered with the former Oregon Duck. The original protest was denied, and Race Results Weekly was told by USATF Director of High Performance Programs Duffy Mahoney that the results were to stand “as is.” The reversal by the Jury of Appeals came hours later long after the written press had left the Albuquerque Convention Center. Race Results Weekly learned of the disqualification at a restaurant near the arena.
Speaking immediately after the race Grunewald told Race Results Weekly, “I was just trying to run and get around her (Hasay). There was slight contact. It was not intentional in any way at all. I was going so much faster than her.”
As expected, Grunewald’s longtime Team USA Minnesota coach Dennis Barker strongly disagreed with the Jury’s ruling.
“This is a farce and untrue,” he tweeted about the Jury’s decision.
The race started out at a sluggish pace—3:27.1 for the first 1,000m—and nobody wanted to lead. The Boulder Track Club’s Laura Thweatt decided to take the pace, and remained on the front until three laps remained in the 15-lap race. That’s when Brooks athlete Sara Vaughn put in a surge, taking Nike Oregon Project’s Jordan Hasay and Shannon Rowbury with her. Grunewald was in fourth. A 4:01 1500m runner, she was waiting to unleash her kick.
“That was the plan,” Grunewald told Race Results Weekly. “You never know how slow it’s going to go.”
With a lap to go, Vaughn drifted back to third, and Rowbury took the lead with a powerful move. Hasay was in second, and Grunewald surged to pass her, apparently making contact, which later spurred a protest by Hasay’s camp that was initially dismissed.
“I was just trying to run and get around her,” Grunewald lamented. “There was contact, but it was not intentional in any way.”
Grunewald, a cancer survivor, got around Hasay and then Rowbury to apparently take the win in 9:23.15, her first-ever USA title. Rowbury held on for second (9:25.49) and Vaughn got third (9:26.46). Hasay, who was visibly upset after the race, finished fourth in 9:27.40 and did not speak with the media.
Initially it appeared Grunewald and Rowbury qualified for the IAAF World Indoor Championships. However, because Grunewald was disqualified, Rowbury earned the first spot in the world championships and Hasay earned the next qualifying berth for the USA squad because she has a qualifying time (sub-9:02) and Vaughn doesn’t. Jenny Simpson and Kim Conley, the fastest Americans over 3000m this indoor season, did not compete.
The USA Indoor Championships continued today, with live coverage on USATF.tv (12:45 p.m.-2 p.m.), NBC Universal (2-3:30 p.m.) and NBCSN (3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. on NBCSN).