For the first time ever in the history of the event, World Championship spots were on the line at the women’s steeplechase final at the US Championships. The event was first introduced to the US champs in 1999, but has gradually increased in competitiveness as 2005 and the events inclusion in the World Championships approached. On Sunday, the US champ was a veteran of the event, Elizabeth Jackson, who won the first US championship in 1999, and also won in 2000 and 2002.
American record holder, Briana Shook, led the field from the gun and opened up a gap on the field. Her opening lap of 73.13 got things rolling and soon although Shook had a lead on the field, 6 women (Shook, Jackson, Lisa Galaviz, Carrie Messner, Ann Gaffigan, and Dawn Cromer) would separate themselves from the field. By 1200m, the 5 girls behind Shook had caught up to her and the race for Helsinki was on. Ann Gaffigan and Dawn Cromer would fall off the lead pack first and make it a four way battle for the 3 worlds spots.
Shook continued to lead until 1200m to go, when Elizabeth Jackson took over the pacing duties. With 2 laps to go, Jackson was still in the lead of pack of 4 and Lisa Galaviz had let a little gap emerge between herself and the crucial 3rd world championship qualifying spot. Over the final lap, it was a 2 woman race for the win as Jackson continued to lead with Messner right with her. Shook and Galaviz were gapped, but were together to battle for third. Jackson would pull ahead going over the final water barrier and cruise home for the win. Lisa Galaviz who had been maybe 20 meters behind the leaders, had a tremendous final 200m as she blew by Shook and would pass Messner on the final stretch and finish less than a second behind Jackson. Messner held on for 3rd, Shook got 4th, Ann Gaffigan barely held on to 5th over a charging Natalie Florence who had led the 2nd pack and would get 6th. Dawn Cromer who had been with the lead pack, would stop and literally have to climb over the final steeple barrier and finish 9th.
Quotes and Results Below:
Liz Jackson, winner in 9:39.78 a pr, also winner in 1999, 2000 and 2002, who had a lot of injuries after 2002.
On her year and injuries in the past: “I wanted to be able to reach my potential, and train hard the whole year and see what I could do. This year I really went for it, and I’m so excited. It’s been a hard year, and I’ve really had to stick with it and give it my all. I’ve had a lot of help from my family, from a lot of people, I’m so grateful.”
On whether she ever thought about quitting while being injured: “I’ve thought about it. You definitely don’t run for the attention, or for financial reasons. Most runners run because they’re driven and they’re running for themselves. It’s a unique sport. It’s not like other sports where all the pros are wealthy. It’s a sacrifice and it takes a lot of hard work combined with a lot of sacrifice in many ways. There are a lot of other things you could be doing with your life. But I love it. I’m so excited to be here today. I’m so excited it went well”
On her thoughts on Briana Shook having the early lead: “I was just going to go out and keep a distance on here, because I usually I have a lot left at the end of my races. I’m more of a kicker than a person who goes out fast at the beginning… I thought if I could stay within distance with her, go with her, and not let her get too big a lead, then the second half of the race which usually is the stronger half of my race, push it and go around here if I could. That was my plan.
Was she surprised to go under 9:40: “Surprised, I’m not sure if that’s the right word. I’m excited and really happy. My coach though I could go under 9:40.”
Lisa Galaviz, 2nd place, 9:40.58, coached by Louie Quintana for 2 years, works 25 hours a week as a software engineer, 6 second pr:
On her race: “I was like ‘I just want to make the World team. I don’t care if today’s race hurts, I have to run through it’. I’ve run fast before but usually it’s when I feel good, so I needed to run fast when it’s important. I’m going to Helsinki.”
Briana Shook, American record holder, early race leader, 4th in 9:45.91, who had her ankle taped.
On whether she’s injured: “I’m not injured, not a big injury. It kicks in at the wrong time and there’s not anything you can do.”
Her general thoughts on the race: “I wasn’t really in it, so I don’t know. I was in it at the beginning, but I just couldn’t go. I didn’t have the legs today. It just wasn’t my day.”
On how her training had been going: “My training has been going good. Just not my day I guess. I’m not going to make excuses because they did awesome. So if I make excuses I dog them, and they did good”
Women 3000 Meter Steeplechase Open
World: W 9:01.59 7/4/2004 Gulnara Samitova, RUS
American: A 9:29.32 7/31/2004 Briana Shook, Toledo
World “A”: 9:50.00
World “B”: 10:00.00
Name Year Team Finals
1 Elizabeth Jackson Nike 9:39.78
2 Lisa Galaviz Unattached 9:40.58
3 Carrie Messner Asics 9:41.37
4 Briana Shook Nike 9:45.91
5 Ann Gaffigan New Balance 10:07.39
6 Natalie Florence Colorado 10:07.51
7 Lucinda Hull Adidas Ralei 10:16.71
8 Kara June Unattached 10:17.73
9 Dawn Cromer Unattached 10:18.45
10 Cassie King North Carolina 10:21.57
11 Kelly Siefker Indiana 10:24.85
12 Jane Rudkin Kansas City Smoke 10:26.91
— Rena Chesser B Y U DNS
— Brianna Dahm Unattached DNS