By Parker Morse, Running USA wire
EUGENE, Ore. - (June 26, 2009) - Kara Goucher successfully defended her 5000 meter national title from 2008 Friday evening, running 15:20.94 as part of her preparation for the World Championships marathon in August. Matt Tegenkamp, just a hundredth of a second away from a medal in the men's 5000m in 2007, will have another chance in 2009, as he also defended.
Goucher sharpens up
After a promising marathon season where she finished third in both the ING New York City Marathon last November and the B.A.A. Boston Marathon this April, Goucher entered the 5000m here hoping to both defend the national title she won in 2008 and sharpen her closing speed for her next marathon, at the World Championships in August in Berlin. Much like her training partners Amy Yoder Begley and Galen Rupp in Thursday evening's 10,000m finals, Goucher ran most of the race off the lead while Rebecca Donaghue led the pack through a 3:06.7 first kilometer and to 2K in 6:14.9.
Donaghue found no other takers as the pace lagged in the middle kilometers, and it was only when three-time Olympian Jen Rhines took over with three laps to go that the pack began to string out. Goucher was well back in the tightly-bunched pack at the time, but she covered Rhines' move immediately, and Rhines covered nearly two laps with Goucher close on her shoulder. Goucher burst to the front with 500 meters remaining, and that move proved to be the decisive one as she finished in 15:20.94 to Rhines' 15:26.92.
"I took a lot of inspiration" from Yoder Begley and Rupp's races, explained Goucher. "I told myself, Alberto coached them, he's coaching me. This has been a really challenging season for me. I wasn't beat up from Boston, it was the three months of training before Boston. I was trying to jump in to speed workouts with Amy [Begley], and she's in the best shape of her life."
"If I hadn't done these track races, I would not have realized how much I have to do before Berlin," she continued. "Also, to do these races, I had to sprint. I was afraid of the kick in Boston, and it cost me. I needed to be in races like these to prove to myself that I can finish quickly."
"We thought it would be tactical, so I stayed tucked in," said Rhines. "I knew when I went that it wasn't enough to drop Kara, but I was hoping I'd be able to run away from her. Pretty much every race I've run this year has been bad, but after Prefontaine we went to a week of therapy, and today I felt like myself again. I'm so relieved, and I'm going to be ready to run well in Berlin."
Behind the leaders, NCAA champion Angela Bizzarri of the University of Illinois ran down first Donaghue, then Julie Culley to take third in 15:33.02, leaving the team selection situation for Berlin in temporary disarray. Goucher will not run the 5000, and while Rhines has an "A" standard (sub-15:10.00), Bizzarri lacks even a "B" (sub-15:25.00). The only other "A" qualifier in the final was Sara Slattery, who finished 11th. Should she choose to, Bizzarri might chase the "B" standard and join the team with Rhines and Slattery; otherwise Culley or Donaghue may race themselves on to the team. The qualifying window will remain open for nearly a month.
OTC sweeps the men's team
The men's 5000 benefited from the determined presence of Anthony Famiglietti, last year's steeplechase national champion, who with Bolota Asmerom led a large pack through the early going. "Fam" was shadowed by the former Wisconsin teammates Matt Tegenkamp and Chris Solinsky (4th place finisher at last year's Olympic Trials). When Asmerom stepped up to take the pace from the flagging Famiglietti, both Tegenkamp and Solinsky moved to cover.
Clinging to those four was Tegenkamp and Solinsky's Oregon Track Club teammate Evan Jager, who forfeited his NCAA eligibility to follow coach Jerry Schumacher to Portland. Jager, benefiting from confidence born of training with Solinsky and Tegenkamp day after day, followed his older teammates around Asmerom when they began their final charge for home.
It was Tegenkamp who had the closing speed to win, pipping Solinsky 13:20.57 to 13:20.82. Jager followed them in at 13:22.18, with Asmerom fourth in 13:24.00.
"We were completely relaxed tonight, and ready to run faster," said Tegenkamp. "In a championship race you have to respond to whatever happens, and be in the top three."
The selection situation in the men's 5000m is confusing as well, although simpler than in the women's race. Solinsky and Famiglietti both have "A" standards, while Tegenkamp and Jager have "B" standards. Tegenkamp, Jager and Asmerom will be permitted to chase standards over the next month; if Tegenkamp improves to an "A", as seems likely, the top three finishers will be the team, but if none of the three improve, the team would be Solinsky, Famiglietti and Tegenkamp. Asmerom could claim a spot at Jager's expense if he runs an "A" and neither Tegenkamp nor Jager improve.
"By the middle of July it will be a lock," said Tegenkamp, "because I'll have the standard."
In fifth place, German Fernandez, 19, ran 13:25.46 to set a U.S. Junior record.
USA 5000m Championship - Friday, June 26, 2009
1) Matt Tegenkamp (OR), 13:20.57
2) Chris Solinsky (OR), 13:20.82
3) Evan Jager (OR), 13:22.18
4) Bolota Asmerom (CA), 13:24.00
5) German Fernandez (OK), 13:25.46*
*U.S. Junior record (previous, 13:29.98, Chris Derrick, May 2, 2009)
1) Kara Goucher (OR), 15:20.94
2) Jen Rhines (CA), 15:26.92
3) Angela Bizzarri (IL), 15:33.02
4) Julie Culley (VA), 15:33.92
5) Rebecca Donaghue (PA), 15:36.09
Complete results at: USATF.org.