Part one of the USATF Championships predictions will feature the women’s distance events. Since many athletes are entered in multiple events, we have assumed that every athlete will only compete in one event.
1. Alysia (Johnson) Montano, 2. Phoebe Wright, 3. Maggie Vessey
The U.S. women are now so deep in the 800 meters with six entered under two minutes. Montano will certainly play her normal tactics and take things out hard. Wright and Vessey are the two who have proved to be most capable to finishing well in a fast race. Look for wily veteran Alice Schmidt to hang in and battle for a top three spot, especially in Vessey leaves her kick too late.
1. Morgan Uceny, 2. Christin Wurth-Thomas, 3. Anna Pierce
The distance event that American women have been strongest in has been much more uncertain in 2011. Uceny is the best closer in the race and performed well at the Adidas Grand Prix while Wurth-Thomas looked good on her way to an ‘A’ standard in Rome. The third spot is up for grabs. Katie Follett has been impressive so far this spring but isn’t quite ready to make that next jump. Pierce will be sharp enough to finish in a top three spot and further build her fitness leading up to Worlds.
1. Molly Huddle, 2. Jenny Simpson, 3. Shannon Rowbury
Huddle, the American record holder, is the favorite. Simpson has the option to run this or the 1500 meters, but seems more likely to choose the event that is less loaded and favors her strong aerobic base developed at altitude. The former CU Buffalo did pull out of 1500 meter races in Eugene and New York, so her health is a question mark. Rowbury has been recovering from injury and hasn’t looked sharp in the 1500, so a 5k should suit her current strengths better.
1. Shalane Flanagan, 2. Jen Rhines, 3. Kara Goucher
Flanagan, coming off her World Cross Country bronze, should dominate. Rhines is a gamer who has bounced back from a subpar 2010. Goucher seems to be regaining her track legs after Boston in April. Lisa Koll hasn’t raced since World Cross County, but could be a factor to make the World team if fit. **Correction: Koll has scratched out of the meet.
3000 meter steeplechase
1. Emma Coburn, 2. Lisa Aguilera, 3. Sara Hall
Coburn has yet to lose this season and always seems to be able to match the efforts of her competition. Aguilera looked impressive winning but narrowly missing the ‘A’ standard at Oxy. Hall’s improvement curve has been steep in her first full season focusing on the steeple.