USA Championships, Eugene
1st – 4:14.86 – Jenny Simpson
2nd – 4:14.99 – Shannon Rowbury
3rd – 4:15.81 – Kerri Gallagher
What a race! It was a tactical affair to begin but a blazing last lap made it a very entertaining race all the way to the finish.
Re-watch the Race
Interview after the Final
Interview after the Prelim
By John Crumpacker
For The Register-Guard
If it’s an odd-numbered year, look out for Jenny Simpson. It’s 2015. Look out for Jenny Simpson.
In 2011, Simpson won the gold medal in the 1,500 meters at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. In 2013, she won the silver medal at the Worlds in Moscow. If that pattern holds, she’ll win the bronze in Beijing this August, not that Simpson has a specific goal of finishing third, mind you.
“I am feeling more fit than I’ve ever been at this time of year,’’ Simpson said Sunday after winning the 1,500 at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field. “I want to be really strong for the World Championships. … I think, simply stated, I’m hoping to be in the top three in every race all year long. This World Championships team is going to be amazing. Half of the women on the starting line are going to be sub-4-minute 1,500 runners.’’
Because Simpson had a bye into the Worlds as the 2014 Diamond League event winner, she didn’t even have to run in the final. She did, though, and once she got clear of a tightly-bunched pack of runners on the bell lap, she powered through the final 400 meters in 58.86 seconds to win in 4 minutes, 14.86 seconds. It was a fast finish to a slow early race.
“That was out of my element,’’ Simpson said of race conditions that found her in the middle of the pack for much of the race. “I felt anxious more than ever. That wasn’t the typical race that I run. I still felt very confident I could manage this, that I could respond to others’ moves.’’
Finishing just behind Simpson was her primary U.S. rival, Shannon Rowbury, who came across in 4:14.99. Kerri Gallagher was third in 4:15.81. With Simpson’s bye, the U.S. will send four women to the World Championships.
The lucky fourth-place finisher, Lauren Johnson of OTC Elite, earned a trip to Beijing by the narrowest of margins — .01. That’s the time she finished ahead of Rachel Schneider, 4:16.08 to 4:16.09.
“I’m happy,’’ Rowbury said. “Anytime you’re second you wish you could have won. I got boxed most of the race. Getting second to Jenny is no sad accomplishment. … I spent most of the last 300 meters (waiting for an opening). Once it came I went as fast as I could. Making the team was the main goal. My main focus was making sure I was in the top three, or top four.’’
Rowbury had a little drama in the rounds on Friday when she lost a shoe early on and ran barefoot the rest of the way, ripping skin from the bottom of her foot in the process.
“It got tore up pretty good in the rounds,’’ she said. “It didn’t seem to hinder me. There’s no thought about missing Nationals. This is what I train for. I’ll worry about the rest later.’’
Treniere Moser of Nike Oregon Project was sixth in 4:16.18 while teammate Mary Cain was eighth in 4:16.77.
LAST YEAR’S Race:
WATCH Jenny win last year’s national championship.