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Posted: March 1, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Upset And Close Finishes Highlight First Day Of USA Indoor Championships

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

BOSTON (28-Feb) -- An upset victory and two close finishes highlighted the first day's middle and long distance action at the U.S. Indoor Championships here at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center.

Former University of California miler David Torrence used a perfectly timed move in the last lap of the men's 3000m to take his first ever USA national title over a solid field of 16. The 23 year-old athlete, who doesn't yet have a national shoe company sponsor, won a last-lap showdown with former Wisconsin Badger Brandon Bethke, last year's Big 10 3000m and 5000m indoor champion. The two pulled away from the field on the backstretch and Torrence, who has 3:58 mile speed, had the faster closing 150m.

"I came in here and it was my first shot at a real title," said the elated Torrence. "It was one of those meets where you prepared for it, you trained for it. It all came together at the right time."

Torrence said he heard a friend in the stands yell, 'it's do or die' when he started the bell lap. "I just kicked it in and it just worked out," explained Torrence, who clocked 7:53.67 to Bethke's 7:54.20.

Rob Myers also called upon his kick to win his third U.S. indoor title at 1500m. Off of a slow pace, the former NCAA champion from Ohio State took the bell with U.S. mile record holder Alan Webb, then shot ahead with Webb keeping just one stride behind. Myers still had the lead into the final 50m and was just able to hold off Webb by less than one tenth of a second in 3:45.73.

"I know that once I get up to speed I'm hard to get around," said Myers. "I just tried to use that to my advantage."

Webb was satisfied with his effort, coming off of just four weeks of solid training, his best in months. He said that although hamstring and Achilles injuries had hampered his training last fall, his racing instincts felt good and he made a solid showing.

"I thought I had him," said Webb. He added: "My first thought in the last 50 meters was at least I'm there."

Olympian Amy Begley used the opposite strategy to win the women's 3000m title. Notching up the pace with each successive lap in the final kilometer, the 10,000m runner managed to drop everyone but Sara Hall.

"From seven laps to go it was my goal to grind it down by a second a lap," said Begley who does some of her training with Kara Goucher under coach Alberto Salazar. "Just make it faster and faster because that's the way a 10-K runner has to do it."

Hall kept Begley very close, but couldn't muster the sprint to overtake her. Begley reached the finish line in 8:53.27, a personal best by about ten seconds. Hall (8:53.72) and third place Julie Culley (8:55.62) also set career best times.

In 800m qualifying, Khadevis Robinson completed the first step towards defending his title in the 800m, a task made easier by with withdrawal of Olympic Trials champion Nick Symmonds due to the flu. Competing in the first of three heats, where only the winner was guaranteed to advance to the final, Robinson won a two-way battle with fellow Olympian Christian Smith. Usually a front runner, Robinson waited for Smith to surge to the front in the final lap, covered his move, then spurted past him in the final push to the line.

"I have to try different things in races," said Robinson who said that he would still run from the front when the time was right. Citing his inconsistent career he said, "I'm either an A or an F," he joked. "Nothing in between."

Smith, who clocked 1:50.07 to Robinson's 1:49.95, was visibly upset that he didn't prevail in his heat. But he was also practical about it: his time was good enough to advance him to tomorrow's final.

"As long as I get in," said Smith.

Miler Steve Sherer also advanced on time out of the first heat. Karjuan Williams, Mark Wieczorek, and Matt Scherer (no relation to Steve) were the other qualifiers.

Katie Waits and Treniere Clement easily their respective 800m heats, and will be the best two athletes in tomorrow's final. Running comfortably in the pack, Waits eased away from the field on the final lap to win in 2:05.35.

"I felt really good," said Waits, who starred at the University of Michigan as Katie Erdman before getting married. "That's just what I wanted to do. Just make it safely to the next round."

Clement controlled her race from start to finish, clocking 2:06.44.

The U.S. Indoor Championships concludes tomorrow with the 800m finals for men and women and the 1500m final for women.

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