With a blistering last lap in 63.73 seconds, Elise Cranny of the Bowerman Track Club outkicked her teammate Karissa Schweizer and won the 5,000 meters in 15:27.81.
Schweizer was second in 15:28.11. Rachel Schneider, who trains in Flagstaff, Arizona, was third in 15:29.56. All three are making an Olympic team for the first time.
Given the warm weather in Eugene, Oregon—the temperature was 94 degrees—the race got off to a slow start. With a mile to go, the pace quickened considerably, shaking up the pack. With three laps remaining, the first four had separated themselves from the rest and there was no doubt the Olympic team would come from that group.
“It was pretty hot out there,” Cranny said. “It was a bit tactical and slow in the beginning.” The plan, she said, was to stay out of trouble and then “slowly squeeze it down.”
Schweizer’s take on the race plan: “With a mile to go, we were going to make it hurt,” she said.
Rachel Schneider looked around and realized four people were remaining and she had to beat only one of them. “We visualized this race quite a bit in a whole bunch of different scenarios,” she said. “I felt super confident I could go with whatever move, whenever it was made in the race.”
She downplayed the role of the weather: “It didn’t play a part at all,” she said. “Everyone is racing in the same conditions. During the warmup, I wore an ice vest. Outside of it, don’t worry about it.”
Cranny and Schweizer, who holds the American record in the 3,000 meters, are regular training partners of Shelby Houlihan. During 2020, Houlihan and Schweizer ran the two fastest American times ever for the 5,000 meters at an intrasquad race in Portland: Houlihan ran 14:23.92, the American record, and Schweizer ran 14:26.34.
On June 14, days before the start of the Trials, Houlihan announced she had tested positive for nandrolone, a banned substance, back in December. She subsequently appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ruled against her. The ruling kept her out of the Olympic Trials.
Despite the distraction of the Houlihan test, the Bowerman Track Club has had a good meet so far. On the first night of competition, Woody Kincaid and Grant Fisher made the team in the men’s 10,000 meters.
Earlier in the day today, Sean McGorty, Cranny’s boyfriend, raced the preliminary heats of the men’s steeplechase. He had to stop midway through to adjust his shoes and fell into last place. But he made his way back up through the pack and was able to advance to the final on time.
Cranny, doing her warmup for the 5,000 meters, was too nervous to watch him race. At one point she looked out and saw him in last. Other teammates in the 5,000 meters, Gwen Jorgensen and Vanessa Fraser, came to tell her the good news when he had advanced to the final.
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