Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reid Among Top Contenders for Women's NCAA 1500 Crown

Contenders emerge for NCAA women’s 1500 meter title
AUTHOR: Kevin Liao
Spiked Up, Psyched Up

The results of the past weekend from meets like the Penn Relays and Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational show the ever-tightening competition for the NCAA title in the women’s 1500 meters. As most teams head into the conference championship portion of their seasons, seven individuals have run under the 4:15 barrier but only a very look to the true contenders.

The first is Oregon sophomore Jordan Hasay who claimed the national leading time at Stanford at 4:10.28, a personal best by more than three seconds. Hasay has raced sparingly this spring after she remarkably won the mile and 3k at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. Her other major outdoor competition was the 5000 meters at Mt. SAC, a race in which she ran 15:37.29, the nation’s second fastest time.

Given the fact Oregon is a contender for a team national championship, Hasay will likely have to double at NCAA’s in the 1500 and 5000. The load of running extra races that weekend may have a negative role on her chances, but if indoors means anything, Hasay has the strength to handle multiple races at a championship environment.

Big East rivals Shelia Reid from Villanova and Emily Infeld of Georgetown battled at cross country nationals and continue to do so this track season. The two led their teams in a number of relays over the weekend at Penn. Infeld anchored the Hoyas to victory in the distance medley and a second place finish in the 4×1500 meters while Reid’s Villanova team struggled and left her too much room to make up.

At the Mt. SAC Relays two weeks ago, Reid edged out Infeld to take second place in the invitational section of the 1500 meters, 4:11.85 to 4:12.04, as both fell just short of kicking down Shalane Flanagan. Infeld’s teammate Renee Tomlin was fifth in that race in 4:13.15.

A new name that emerged on the picture this weekend was Lea Wallace of Sacramento State. The half-mile specialist ran a massive 17 second personal best at Payton Jordan to place seventh with a time of 4:11.31.

That race was set up perfectly for Wallace as she was able to sit in the pack and be dragged through to a fast time. In a championship-style race, however, she may not be able to hand onto a long, grinding surge that is likely to ensue over the last 800 meters. Only if the race goes out very slowly will Wallace’s 2:02 800 meter speed come into play.

Reid should be considered the favorite at this point given her experience as a multiple-time NCAA champion. Her savvy racing instincts and strong finishing kick have done her well thus far in her racing career. Infeld is equally as experienced but does not quite have the closing speed as Reid does.

Hasay is a wild card since it is unknown how she will react to doubling back. Succeeding in the 1500 will be extremely tough after having to run a 5000 final and a semifinal of the 1500 as well.

Speculation aside, the way the 1500 meter final on June 11 plays out will be among the most intriguing of this year’s NCAA championships.

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