2017 proved to be another successful year for the Bowerman Track Club at the USA Championships. The goal of US Championships beyond winning is to qualify to represent the US team at the World Championships by finishing top 3 in one's event. In total, the club qualified 6 athletes from the US Championships to this year's World Championships, taking place August 5-13 in London. Below is a recap of the races BTC athletes competed in at the US Championships.
The opening event of the US Championships for Bowerman TC was led off by an outstanding performance by team USA 10K veteran, Emily Infeld. Toeing the line with Infeld, and offering an equally inspiring performance was Shalane Flanagan, who displayed the confidence that comes with experience. With her relentless racing style, Shalane ground the field down to a final four competitors throughout the course of race. In an exciting last kilometer of the race, both Emily and Shalane faced off against training partners Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson, with a Portland based training group against a Providence based one. Coming off her debilitating back injury undaunted, Shalane led the majority of the race falling off just short in the last 800m, while Emily Infeld broke up the Providence pack by finishing second to Huddle. With a final time of 31:22.67, Emily qualified for her third consecutive US 10k team, finishing ahead of Emily Sisson in third, and Shalane in (31:31.12).
A lot can happen in 25 laps around an oval, and during the 10,000m final, viewers were treated to one of the most entertaining and brutal 10K finals in recent history. Chris Derrick led the charge for Bowerman Track Club, braving a race of surging pace and lead changes. After a pedestrian first mile and a half, Sam Chelanga began to make things interesting by alternating hammering off the front and letting the pack back in. Covering these moves during the slower side of the surge was Galen Rupp, Diego Estrada, and Derrick. After six kilometers of Chelanga’s back and forth pacing, the pack approached a mile to go and the race dynamic became even wilder. Rupp took the lead, as he historically does with a mile to go, before Leonard Korir and Hassan Mead covered his move, cutting down the pace metronomically over the next three laps. At the bell, Chris Derrick fearlessly swung around the pack and challenged Korir all the way down the backstretch. With 200m to go, Hassan Mead made his bid for home and ended up claiming victory on the day. Finishing with the lead pack grouped behind the top three spots, Chris Derrick came in 8th in a time of 29:12.08.
Building on her momentum from the Olympic Trials last summer, Shelby Houlihan is no longer a fresh face in the American 5K field. With a decisive victory, Houlihan ran a smart race, confident in her ability to strike for home before anyone else could take it away from her. Leading the race early, Natosha Rogers strung out the pack, coming through 3K in 9:22. Bowerman teammate, Sammy Silva, hung on throughout the course of the race, but when it came to the last kilometer, and especially the last 400m, the title was to be decided between Molly Huddle, Shelby Houlihan, Marielle Hall, and Samantha Rowbury. Shelby took the lead at the bell from Huddle, only to be met by a decisive move from Rowbury who swung wide. Coming off the last turn however, Shelby fully sent it down the final 100, pulling away from Huddle and Rowbury, winning the 5K title in 15:13.87 in spectacular fashion.
It is a rare thing for meet records to fall when it comes to championship racing. Balancing tactics, speed, and strength, Ryan Hill and Lopez Lomong displayed the patience that comes with experience, even in the surprisingly strange race dynamic set by Paul Chelimo’s early full frontal assault of the pace. Racing the peloton (chase-pack), Ryan and Lopez broke away with Eric Jenkins, Emmanuel Bor, and Ben True, who heroically set the pace for the pack. Reminiscent of the last Olympic trials, it would be a kickers race between these few men to clinch the last two spots left open behind Chelimo off the front. Coming into the final kilometer, the peloton whittled down to True, Jenkins, Lomong, and Hill. Four men, two spots. At the bell, Jenkins made a decisive move into second with True and Lomong in tow. Waiting patiently however, was Ryan Hill, who conjured up his final push for home in the last 200m. Swinging wide, he surged away from True and Lomong to take third in 13:16.99, behind Jenkins in second in 13:15.74, and Chelimo in first in 13:08.62.
3,000m Steeplechase Women
As if staring in a mirror, the steeplechase world team ended up being a direct reflection of the USA women sent to Rio last summer. For Bowerman Track Club, that meant that both Courtney Frerichs and Colleen Quigley re-punched their tickets to the world stage by taking second and third respectively. Both Bowerman women had to focus on running their own race while simultaneously gauging their tactics against 5-time defending USA championship winner and Olympic bronze medalist, Emma Coburn. Coburn’s race was dominant, but in an interview said she wanted, “to take the sting” out of the legs of Courtney and Colleen, acknowledging their closing speed. Capitalizing on strength in numbers, Colleen and Courtney played it smart, working together throughout the race to trade the lead and match Coburn’s surges. Courtney noted how calming it can be to have a teammate like Colleen in the race, and together they stayed calm, cool, and collected, as they blazed through the last kilometer. At the finish, the three women had distanced themselves from the rest the field with Courtney finishing second (9:22.23), Colleen in third (9:25.4) abd Coburn taking another title (9:20.28).
3,000m Steeplechase Men
The phrase “3 times a charm” seems to mean nothing to Evan Jager, who has now doubled his domination in the Steeplechase by taking his Sixth USA outdoor championship title…not to mention in charming fashion. With a slower pace in the early stages of the race, most of the pack was still present as the racing began to happen over the final kilometer. Pulling away at this point was Harun Lagat, Hillary Bor, Stanley Kebenei, Andy Bayer, and Evan Jager. With 800m to go, Lagat and Bor attempted to further string out the field to avoid a completely tactical situation in the last lap. Un-phased however, Jager slid up into striking range and took a commanding lead over the second to last water jump. With Bor, Kebenei, and Bayer in tow, Jager would have to hold off a deep field of speed over the final 400m. Making a decisive move again on the last water jump, Jager surged ahead winning in 8:16.88, leaving the final spots open to Kebenei, Bor, and Bayer. Acknowledging the progression of the event, and marking the fast times run by his fellow Americans this year, Jager was thrilled to win and looks forward to contending for the world title in London.