With the Olympics on the brink and the US Olympic Track and Field Trials wrapping up this week, our sport is gaining much press and as a result, possibly more fans. It helps that we had a world record set in the decathlon! If you are just tuning in and like what you see, I thought I would share with you a few amazing runners to keep an eye on. Some have already qualified and are headed to London. Others, just missed it but were oh-so-close. And my lone hometown hero of Mantua, Ohio has her final tonight.
So, sit back, grab some popcorn, and don’t forget to tune in to NBC this weekend to catch the final events in action! Or if you are antsy like me, you can get up to the minute results here.
1. Amy Hastings. Before winning the 10,000 meters at this year’s trials, Hastings was one of five women to run a time faster than any other Olympic Trials Marathon and yet, still did not qualify for the Olympics in that event as she finished fourth. Hastings will now join her former teammate at Arizona State, Desi Davila, at this year’s Olympics. Her victory was not without a little drama in the final laps as competitors fell or shoes became untied. In the end, Hastings was able to outkick college standout, Natosha Rogers and a woman who beat her in the marathon, the great Shalane Flanagan.
2. Tianna Madison. Want to talk race drama? Then check out what happened in the women’s 100 meter final last Saturday! After twenty-four hours of confusion, the USATF decided that the spot for third place was actually a tie, which now calls for a dead heat solution involving either a coin toss or run-off. Yes, a coin toss. But none of this matters for the second place finisher, Madison. She’s a hometown hero for us Clevelanders. I remember reading about her feats as a high school sprinter from Elyria, Ohio way back when. In fact, our hometown paper covers her experience at the Trials. What she writes is inspiring enough to get you out the door today!
3. Phoebe Wright. Wright was supposedly a walk-on at Tennessee, with a 2:15 high school PR in the 800. Then, in 2010, she went on to win the 800 meters at the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships. Since then, she has competed with the world’s best in the 800 meters, running under 2:00 multiple times. She competed at the trials this past week, just barely missing a spot, finishing fifth in 1:59.72. But don’t count her out just yet as she will try again for an Olympic spot in the 1500 meter finals.
4. Julia Lucas. Lucas and her husband, Ian Dobson, were frequent bloggers at one point, sharing their experiences as elite runners. Then, they became injured and word around the block was that they were tired of always writing about being injured. So, the blogging stopped but the healing didn’t. Then, at this year’s Payton Jordan Invitational, Lucas blazed to a 15:08 in the 5000 meters, finishing second to her Oregon teammate and rising Kenyan star, Sally Kipyego. She, too, just barely missed a spot on the Olympic team last night in the 5k but will likely go as an alternate as she already has the “A” standard.
5. Bridget Franek. So, I’m a little bias including two Ohio stars, but these stars are so close to home that I couldn’t help but share a little back story and hope you all can make some room for them in your cheering sections! Franek was a distance standout at Crestwood High School in Mantua, Ohio before running her way to steeplechase success at Penn State University. She eventually went on to win an NCAA title in 2009. Since then, she has competed with some of the world’s best, hoping for a medal opportunity at the Olympics. She will run in the steeplechase finals tonight so be sure to keep an eye out for her results!