Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gits Takes 2nd in USA Junior 5000; Blankenship 5th, Richardson 9th in 1500

The Minnesota story of the Saturday competition at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis was Alex Gits. She waited out a long stretch adrift between the early leaders and the main pack in the junior women’s 5000 meters, caught the lead pack in the late-going, and then raced to a second place finish in 16:50.47.

That’s about all we have of the story, however.

Due to commitments back in Minnesota, we had to load up the DtB mobile unit immediately after Gits finished. (I’m typing these words from the shotgun seat of the ol’ Toyota as it whizzes by mile marker #160 on I-90 in Wisconsin.) So, no splits, no post-race interview.

If we're reading the USATF Pan Am Juniors team selection criteria correctly, it appears the Stanford-bound Edina High School grad needed to win the race to earn a trip to Brazil.

Ben Blankenship of Stillwater High School made a quick-thinking and bold move at 1200 meter mark of the junior men's 1500 to stay in contention for a victory, but ran out of steam in the homestretch.

Blankenship finished 5th in 3:51.50.

With the pace having accelerated from 65.3 and 63.7 through 800 to 60-flat for the third 400, the Mississippi State-bound, two-time Class AA 1600 champ dashed from the danger of a fast-closing box and sped down the backstretch after the leaders. All the fast running -- and fast thinking -- though, left Blankenship unable match the speed of the eventual place-winners down the homestrech.

A.J. Acosta won the race in 3:49.53.

Andy Richardson, ran an uncharacteristically controlled race from deeper in the 1500 pack, but found that same accelerating third 400 of the contest – he ran a 61.3 – too fast. Richardson lost contact with the leads at 1200 but held together for 9th in 3:54.03.

Blankenship time equates to a 4:08.56 1600m, Richardson’s to 4:11.28.

"It was tough," Blankenship said. "Those guys kept pounding the pace. Going into two-left, they just went. I was sort of caught up on the rail and then I found my opening. I thought I could out-kick them."

The senior women raced the 1500 as well on Saturday. Team USA Minnesota’s Jenelle Deatherage finished 8th in 4:12.49. Deatherage, who has a 4:07.87 personal best, can’t seem to shake recurring problems with the final 400 of her races.

“It's still not what I would have like to run for the last lap," the University of Wisconsin grad said. "It's tough, when the season hasn't gone well, to really muster up the confidence to go out with the top three. I was a little conservative, but right there at the same time. If felt like I ran a smart race, I just didn't, maybe, have it at the end."

The final session of competition at the USA Championship takes place today. It’s another day for Minnesota’s top middle distance runners: Winona native Garrett Heath and Minnetonka High School grad Will Leer race in the 1500 final; Trent Riter. It’s also a day for Mavericks: MSU-Mankato’s Jim Dilling competes in the high jump and Mankato’s Katelin Rains competes in the high jump.

No comments: