In championship races, times are of little value. All that matters is the gold, silver and bronze. We, as track fans, get excited about finishes and that last lap, or straight.
Last Saturday night, Colleen Quigley, a steeplechaser, won the USATF indoor mile, over the kicker supreme, Shelby Houlihan. Colleen’s exclamation at the finish was obvious and honest! It was big win for the promising middle distance runner.
Here is how @runblogrun saw it.
Colleen Quigley is known best as a steepler. In 2016, Colleen, aka @steeplesquigs, took 8th in 9:21.16. In 2016, Colleen set a new PB (8/27/16) of 9:20.00 (Paris) , then, on same day, year later, 8/27/17, Colleen ran 9:15.27 at ISTAF Berlin. In 2018, Colleen ran a 4:03.02 PB in Chorzow, Poland on August 22, 2018, taking the win! On 2 September 2018, Colleen did it again, 9:10.27 PB at the steeple, at ISTAF Berlin.
Her indoor season was short and sweet. Colleen attempted to defend her 2018 Millrose Games mile in 2019. Konstanze Klausterhalfen ran 4:19.98, with Colleen in second, in a PB of 4:22.86.
At the US champs, the mile and 2 mile fields knew that Shelby Houlihan, double USATF Indoor (1500m/30000m) and USATF Outdoor (1,500m/5,000m) champion. Shelby seems to just smell the finish line and that 25-26 second last 200 meters comes into fruition. Shelby is a player in any race she enters. That endurance and speed combo are tough to imagine.
So, consider Colleen Quigley, a steeplechase, with pretty good speed, dueling with Shelby Houlihan, knowing that, lurking five meters back, is the toughest kicker on the US circuit.
The pace was, well, pedestrian. 68.8 for 400 meters, 2:19.60 for 800 meters. This pace was same as section 1, won by Eleanor Fulton, in 4:33.47. Colleen Quigley was in second through 1000m. Colleen Quigley, took command at 1200m, in 3:29 (69.79), and then, Colleen took off, running a 31.09 with Shelby Houlihan ready to move. Quigley was sprinting hard, running the final 200 meters in 29.00 seconds, last 400m in 60.09! The difference between Colleen and Shelby was 4:29.47 to 4:29.92!
As Colleen Quigley came to the realization that she had a few steps on Shelby Houliahn and would win her first title, a well know expletive seemed to come out of her mouth, a bit unconsciously. What would you expect, if you had just defeated the finest sprint finisher in the U.S.
A final note. On Saturday night, Coaches Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert of Bowerman TC were seen on the warm up track. Coach Schumacher was smiling, as his athletes had done well. Coach Dobert was obviously happy with the athletes as well. One has to say that the Bowerman TC has the finest group of American women distance runners today, especially with the recent USATF Cross Country finish as well.
After the race, Colleen Quigley told RBR’s Jeff Benjamin: ” I emulated Shalene crossing the finish..I knew if Shelby got the jump on me it would be hard…Coach Schumacher talks to us individually before the race!”
Shelby Houlihan looked pretty good, but she just did not have her complete final gear. Shelby noted to Jeff Benjamin, ” It stings a little bit, but I did feel good on the day and I know Colleen is in great shape..I’m happy with it but it just wasn’t enough.”
The first championship for Colleen Quigley was well run. 2:19/2:10, and a 60.1 last 400 meters. The leg speed should come in handy in the summer of 2019, and the confidence growth, plus her new puppy, should give Colleen a few more seconds improvement in the steeple for Doha 2019.
A final comment: After the Saturday session, this writer visited with a smiling Coach Jerry Schumacher and a very pleased Coach Pascal Dobert, both of Nike Bowerman TC. Coaches Schumacher and Dobert let their athletes’ performances speak for themselves. Tonight, the races of Colleen Quigley and Shelby Houlihan showed, once again, the the women’s crew of the Bowerman TC is the finest group of American women distance runners under one roof.