A sixth consecutive national 10,000m title for Galen Rupp and a late, great, come-from-behind win for Kim Conley in the women’s equivalent were the clear highlights of yesterday evening’s (26) session at the US Championships in Sacramento, California.
For Rupp, who coasted to the win in the men’s 10,000m in 28:12.07, victory appeared to arrive with the utmost of ease. The US record-holder came into the race with a personal best some 40 seconds quicker than that of his closest competitor and when he moved on to the shoulder of long-time leader Chris Derrick with 500m remaining and swiftly shot past, his superiority became quickly evident.
The field had passed halfway in a pedestrian 14:37, with Rupp content to sit deep in the pack. He surged to the front approaching the bell, quickly opening a gap on Derrick, and covered the last 400m in 60.39, despite easing down some 150 metres from home – intent on saving energy for next Saturday’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris, where he will contest the 5000m.
“I was just trying to run it as easy as possible,” said Rupp. “I’m in tremendous shape. I didn't want take it any harder than it needed to be. My plan was to sit back and just go hard with a lap to go.”
For women’s 10,000m champion Conley, victory proved much more hard-fought, something which made the win all the sweeter for the 28-year-old, who lives locally and was competing in front of a partisan home support of just under 6000 people.
The three favourites – Conley, Jordan Hasay and Amy Hastings – were all content to sit in the pack early as Meghan Peyton led through 5000m in a steady 16:20. It was then that Hastings hit the front, upping the pace over the following kilometres and whittling the pack down to three with seven laps to run.
Conley then surged to the front, taking her and Hasay clear. From there, it all looked to be playing neatly into the hands of Hasay, who defeated Conley over 10,000m earlier this year at the Payton Jordan Invitational.
With 200m remaining, Hasay struck for home and quickly opened a five-metre lead – a lead which stabilised at the crown of the bend then ever-so-slowly began to retract as the pair turned for home. Hasay moved wide off the turn, allowing a resurgent Conley up the inside, and when Conley drew alongside with 60m remaining, there was simply no resisting her final surge for the line.
Conley brought the local crowd to its feet to salute their new champion as she crossed the line in 32:02.07, a clear winner in the end from Hasay (32:03.28) and Amy Hastings (32:18.81). Her first national title, coming as it did in the place which means so much to Conley, proved all the better for the arduous manner in which it was won.
“When I was still in contact with 100m to go, I knew I could do it,” said Conley. “I kept saying one word, over and over in my head, on those final few laps: ‘courage’. I was reminding myself to be courageous, and know that if I could still be with her with 120m to go, I could use my heart to get me to the line.
“It’s so beautiful. I wanted to win a national title for so many years now. To win it here, in front of the whole Sacramento running community, it’s just perfect. “
Earlier in the evening, Kibwe Johnson got the better of close rival AG Kruger to take the men’s hammer title with a throw of 74.16m in the second round. “I am not terribly happy,” said Johnson, “but the main goal was to win and I did that. The rest was secondary.”
Kara Patterson was a narrow winner of the women’s javelin, her 62.43m effort in the third round giving her a 38cm winning margin over Brittany Borman. The women’s triple jump was won by Amanda Smock – her best effort of 13.77m coming in the final round.
In the men’s decathlon, two-time world champion Trey Hardee started as the overwhelming favourite in the absence of Olympic champion and world record-holder Ashton Eaton and he duly proved worthy of that tag, recording 4441 points on this first day of competition, giving him an overnight lead of 368 points over Devin Dick.
Hardee’s highlights on day one included a wind-assisted 10.38 in the 100m (+4.2m/s) and a clearance of 2.05m in the high jump. “It’s an alright start,” said Hardee. “10.38 is the fastest 100m I’ve run in a while. My high jump was awesome.”
The preliminary rounds of several other track events got under way on Thursday, including the 100m, 400m and 800m.
Headwinds hampered most of the 100m heats, but Mike Rodgers recorded the fastest time of the day in the men’s event with 10.11 in the only heat with a tailwind. Defending champion English Gardner was the fastest in the women’s contest, clocking 11.30 (-1.2m/s) to finish 0.03 ahead of Tori Bowie in her heat.
World indoor champion Francena McCorory (51.64) and world champion LaShawn Merritt (45.19) were among the heat winners in the 400m.
The only surprise in the women’s 800m was the presence of five-time national champion Alysia Montano. The 2010 world indoor bronze medallist is 34 weeks pregnant, but still completed two laps of the track in 2:32.13.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF