At RunBlogRun, we like to give you, our kind and supportive readers, and viewers, a wide breadth of comments and opinions. We are pleased to be working with 4 young writers, thoughtfully observed by Lori Shontz, Professor of Practice/ Journalism and Communications at the University of Oregon. We have worked with Lori before to seek out thoughts of young writers on the sport and media at Olympic Trials.
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This piece, on the men’s 10,000m final, was written by Matt Wisner.
When we asked Matt Wisner why he is drawn to track & field?
Matt responded: “I tried to qualify for the Trials but couldn’t quite make it happen. Writing about the meet was the next best thing.”
All pieces edited by Lori Shontz and Larry Eder.
In Men’s 10,000, Kincaid and Fisher of Bowerman Go 1-2, Klecker Third
By Matt Wisner
SOJC Track Bureau for RunBlogRun
When the gun fired for the men’s 10,000 meters Friday night at the Olympic Trials, the possibility of a 1-2-3 sweep wasn’t out of the question for Nike’s Bowerman Track Club. The three Bowerman athletes in the race had the top three marks heading into the meet.
In the end, two of the three finished first and second in Friday night’s race, with Woody Kincaid and Grant Fisher qualifying for their first U.S. Olympic teams by running 27:53.62 and 27:54.29 respectively.
Their teammate, two-time U.S. champion Lopez Lomong, who had the fastest mark coming into the race, dropped out around the 4,400-meter mark, grabbing his hamstring.
The final Olympic qualifier is On Athletic Club’s Joe Klecker, who finished third in 27:54.90. Klecker is now On’s first track athlete to qualify for the Olympics. He’s not the first in his family to qualify for the Olympics, though: His mother, Janis Klecker, competed in the marathon in 1992 in Barcelona.
Collegiate athletes set a hot pace
The 10,000 is an event that’s normally dominated by professional distance runners. At the 2016 trials, only two collegiate athletes qualified for the event. Before this year, the fastest time ever run at the NCAA Championships was 28:01, which is slower than this year’s trial standard of 28:00.
But this year at NCAAs, because of the change in lifestyle for collegiate athletes, the super spikes, the collective attitude shift about racing tactics, luck, or whatever else, 10 collegiate athletes broke the 28-minute barrier. Six of them ran the trials Friday night, and they went straight to the front. BYU’s Conner Mantz led the field through the mile in 4:22, and all six collegians were in the top 10.
At the halfway point, the collegians were still controlling the pace at the front. The veterans sat back. “If I’m as tired as I am right now, everybody else is feeling it too,” Kincaid said. “I just waited for the race to come back to me.”
The veterans sat back and prepared themselves for a fast finish, ultimately leaving behind the younger, less experienced collegiate runners. Fisher took control of the race at the bell, and he, Kincaid, and Klecker pulled away from the rest of the field. Kincaid took the lead for the first time in the race with 100 meters to go. His last lap was a blazing 53 seconds. Fisher and Klecker both ran 54 seconds.
“That wasn’t hard at all! The last lap is always the easiest part,” Kincaid said. “Getting into position to win is the hard part.”
Mantz closed in 58 seconds, which would be very impressive any other day. He finished in fifth place and was the top collegian. Georgetown’s Robert Brandt and Gonzaga’s James Mwuara, who both led the race at times, fell back over the last lap and finished in 12th and 14th, respectively.
With 1,000 meters left to run, 14 men were within 2 seconds of each other. In the end, the first to 14th was separated by 18 seconds.
Fisher is back
Eyes have always been on Fisher. He was a high school phenom — a sub-4 minute miler and Foot Locker cross country champion. In college, Fisher was always in the position to contend for an NCAA title while he competed for Stanford.
This is Fisher’s first full post-collegiate season, and for the first time, there wasn’t a lot of news about him. Bowerman prefers to stay quiet — focus on long training blocks and not race a lot of times before the end of the season rolls around.
Fisher is undoubtedly back in the public eye now. “I’ve dreamed about being an Olympian for a long time and this is it,” Fisher said. “I did it.”
Kincaid is at the top of his game
Kincaid has never been a household name like Fisher. He was a consistent high performer in college at the University of Portland — even finishing as high as fifth in the NCAA 5,000 in 2015 — but never was the center of attention and never seriously contended for titles as Fisher did.
“At the end of college, I thought I had more to give to the sport,” Kincaid said. “Whenever you have an underwhelming career in something, you feel like you could do more, and that’s true here. I was still motivated to succeed.”
Kincaid, Fisher, and Klecker are all entered in the 5,000 meters as well. The first round will be contested on Friday, June 24, at 8:04 p.m.
Watch the 10,000-meter race highlights here.