NCAA Women’s 10K — Chelangat Surges Late

Mercy Chelangat launched an unmatchable surge over the last 5 laps. (MIKE SCOTT)

CAUTION WAS THE BYWORD, it soon became apparent, as the 10,000 runners set out on their appointed 25 rounds. The weather conditions — 76 degrees (44C) with 54% humidity — weighed in against stiff pacing and the season had seen no exceptional times from those entered.

As in the men’s 10K the previous evening, one runner opted to sail out ahead solo. Washington junior Haley Herberg cruised the first lap in 75.71 (31:32 pace) and passed the 800 in 2:33.00.

Herberg’s 23 opponents stuck together with splits around 78 and 2:39 at the front end. In other words, she found no takers. Emphatically so.

As Herberg, last year’s 5th-placer, settled back to laps in the 78–80 range, the field gyrated comfortably around with up-and-down pacing from 78 to 84.

By 4K (13:08.53) Herberg had a lead of some 140m, and nobody in the solidified pack had eaten any discernible yardage out of that by 5K. Herberg, looking alternately easy and discomfited, ran past halfway in 16:27.40.

That is, at 32:55 pace, a figure some 21 seconds slower than her PR, 32:34.67 set placing 4th at the Pac-12 in May. The SoCal native now had, it appeared, a longshot chance to hold on and win off her typically low-percentage stratagem.

Then her string began to shorten — to 50m at 17 laps and diminishing more rapidly thereafter.

In lap 19, Alabama’s Mercy Chelangat laid down a 75.34 to catch Herberg on the homestraight. Rice’s Grace Forbes, near the front throughout in the chase parade, slipped by also. But Chelangat was pouring her effort toward the finish.

As formchart favorite Lauren Gregory quit the contest just past 8K, Chelangat, the ’21 runner-up, turned lap 20 in 73.06 and lit into an unmatchable 2K drive for home.

Her splits in the closing sequence — 75.26, 76.07, 75.04, 74.62, 73.08 — were beyond the rest on this day and Kenyan junior Chelangat finished in 32:37.08 to Forbes’s 32:48.07. Jenna Magness of Michigan State placed 3rd (32:59.96). Brave Herberg stuck with it for 7th in 33:20.33.

Chelangat’s title made for an on-the-oval addition to the cross country crown she claimed in March of ’21. She placed 2nd in the harrier champs last fall.

Of Herberg’s yawning early gap on her pursuers, Chelangat said, “I wasn’t worried at all because I actually watched yesterday’s matches so I was not worried. 10Ks are really long so you have to be patient like most of the time because you cannot do the work by yourself.”

When her self-appointed go-time came, Chelangat expected the eventual result. “I wasn’t really surprised because I kind of know my strengths,” she said. “So I know if I have 5 laps to go, I can, like, survive that pace to get to the end.

“I was just like, ‘Well, if it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”

Chelangat will return to the oval for the 5000 on Saturday. She placed 5th at the distance last year.


WOMEN’S 10,000 RESULTS

(June 09)

1. *Mercy Chelangat’ (Al-Ken) 32:37.08

(80.39, 79.24 [2:39.63], 80.78 [4:00.41], 79.59 [5:20.00], 81.39 [6:41.39], 82.26 [8:03.65], 84.41 [9:28.06], 83.98 [10:52.04], 81.41 [12:13.45], 80.62 [13:34.07], 79.73 [14:53.80], 78.65 [16:12.45], 76.43 [17:28.88], 76.63 [18:45.51], 76.47 [20:01.98], 77.21 [21:19.19], 77.39 [22:36.58], 77.49 [23:54.07], 75.34 [25:09.41], 73.60 [26:23.01], 75.26 [27:38.27], 76.07 [28:54.34], 75.04 [30:09.38], 74.62 [31:24.00], 73.08)

(73.08, 2:27.70, 3:42.74, 4:58.81);

2. **Grace Forbes (Rice) 32:48.07

(75.48, 2:31.89, 3:49.33, 5:04.80);

3. Jenna Magness (MiSt) 32:59.96 PR

(75.43, 2:33.96, 3:52.11, 5:09.70);

4. ***Emily Covert (Co) 33:14.64

(73.45, 2:34.90, 3:57.15, 5:18.22);

5. *Alexandra Hays (NCSt) 33:16.16

(74.15, 2:33.44, 3:52.76, 5:13.20);

6. **Gabby Hentemann (OkSt) 33:18.04 PR

(75.66, 2:35.20, 3:54.90, 5:15.35);

7. *Haley Herberg (Wa) 33:20.33

(77.05, 2:39.40, 4:03.22, 5:27.16);

8. Charlotte Dannatt (Gtn) 33:26.78 PR

(76.54, 2:35.22, 3:56.94, 5:18.77);

9. **Amelia Mazza-Downie’ (NM-Aus) 33:31.99; 10. *India Johnson (Co) 33:34.93; 11. Jessa Hanson (NnAz) 33:35.74; 12. *Everlyn Kemboi’ (UtV-Ken) 33:41.50; 13. **Maggie Donahue (Gtn) 33:42.99; 14. ***Emma Heckel’ (NM-Ger) 33:43.01; 15. *Makayla Perez (MiSt) 33:43.76; 16. **Gionna Quarzo (NCSt) 33:46.78; 17. Hannah Branch (UtV) 33:49.23; 18. **Louise Lounes (UNCC) 34:04.06; 19. ***Daisy Liljegren (BU) 34:05.69; 20. *Katie Rose Blachowicz (NDm) 34:09.40; 21. **Faith Linga (Tol) 34:19.43; 22. *Aubrey Frentheway (BYU) 34:31.59; 23. Michaela Reinhart (Duke) 34:52.50;… dnf—*Lauren Gregory (Ar).

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