NCAA Women’s 1500 — Vissa Was Ready For It

Sintayehu Vissa’s plan for revenge against Micaela Degenero worked to perfection. (MIKE SCOTT)

THE EVENTUAL ATTACK from Indoor champ Micaela Degenero: this time, everyone knew it was coming. And Mississippi’s Sintayehu Vissa was counting on it. The Italian soph almost gleefully responded to the Colorado senior’s kick on the final straight, streaking to a 4:09.42 win.

Afterwards, when the two hugged, Vissa told Degenero, “Sorry, it was revenge.”

Vissa, the SEC champion and premeet favorite, had found herself running faster in the heats, winning the second in 4:13.13. Degenero had the luxury of the first and slower heat, hitting 4:21.53 in 3rd following Binghamton’s Emily MacKay (4:21.44) and Stanford’s Christina Aragon (4:21.53) across the line.

In the final, Arkansas’s Krissy Gear took the lead in the first 200, with Vissa slotting into 2nd. They passed 400 in 66.6, with Degenero comfortable in mid-pack. A lap later (2:16.2) little had changed, save for Julia Heymach of Stanford moving into 3rd.

After the bell, Gear accelerated and stretched the pack out. She hit 1200 in 3:23.2, but by the end of the backstretch Vissa had moved into the lead, just in time to respond to Degenero, who had sprinted from 9th to her shoulder in the space of 100m. Vissa accelerated and kept her rival on the outside, and as they hit the final stretch, kept looking over her shoulder, almost as if to say, “Do you want to try that again?”

Degenero tried it again, and Vissa stayed just ahead all the way to the line for the 4:09.42-4:09.62 win. Aragon battled Gear for the 3rd spot, taking it 4:10.00–4:10.06, with Heymach grabbing 5th in 4:10.58.

Vissa admitted she expected a slower paced race: “I thought it was going to be easier, but when I saw Krissy take it, I was like, ‘Ah, I got to stay with her.’ No matter what happened, I was like, I’ll go here.”

The contrast with the Indoor mile, where Vissa finished 2nd, was everything. “Indoor, I lost. She left me shocked, so when I saw her, I was like, ‘I don’t want to repeat it again.’ This time, I was actually in the race; I was focusing on the race.” Here she covered her last lap in 61.91, while Degenero, starting from much farther back, closed in 61.21.

The 25-year-old, who placed 6th in the Italian nationals 1500 last year, hopes her success carries over to the big race at home in two weeks. “I think here at the NCAAs is better than the senior championships back home. So I showed them here, like, ‘Hey, she’s good enough.’ I hope they know.”


WOMEN’S 1500 RESULTS

FINAL (June 11)

1. **Sintayehu Vissa’ (Ms-Ita) 4:09.42 (=9, =10 NCAA)

(49.72, 69.72 [1:59.44], 68.07 [3:07.51], 61.91) (61.91, 2:09.98, 3:19.70);

2. Micaela Degenero (Co) 4:09.62 (61.20, 2:09.39, 3:19.70);

3. Christina Aragon (Stan) 4:10.00 (62.08, 2:10.08, 3:19.78);

4. Krissy Gear (Ar) 4:10.06 (62.70, 2:10.91, 3:20.72);

5. Julia Heymach (Stan) 4:10.58 (62.93, 2:10.91, 3:20.45);

6. Emily Mackay (Bing) 4:11.10 (63.39, 2:11.19, 3:20.74);

7. ***Shannon Flockhart’ (Prov-GB) 4:11.11 (63.33, 2:11.52, 3:21.31);

8. Eusila Chepkemei’ (MTn-Ken) 4:11.44 (63.50, 2:11.75, 3:21.49);

9. **Olivia Howell (Il) 4:12.22; 10. ***Maia Ramsden’ (Harv-NZ) 4:12.46; 11. Ellie Leather’ (Cinc-GB) 4:13.37; 12. *Melissa Tanaka (Stan) 4:21.28.

(best-ever mark-for-NCAA-place: 5–11)

SEMIS (June 09)

I–1. Mackay 4:21.44; 2. Aragon 4:21.53; 3. Degenero 4:21.61; 4. Flockhart’ 4:21.76; 5. Chepkemei’ 4:21.84; 6. *Caroline Timm (Prin) 4:22.32; 7. *Anna Gibson (Wa) 4:22.42; 8. *Izzy Thornton-Bott’ (Or-Aus) 4:23.90; 9. *Abbe Goldstein (NM) 4:25.25; 10. **Gracie Morris (TCU) 4:25.53; 11. *Nevada Mareno (NCSt) 4:26.52; 12. Anna Vess (NCSt) 4:34.08.

II–1. Vissa’ 4:13.13; 2. Heymach 4:13.45; 3. Gear 4:13.48; 4. Howell 4:13.76; 5. Ramsden’ 4:14.12; 6. Leather’ 4:14.20; 7. Tanaka 4:14.43; 8. **Flomena Asekol’ (Al-Ken) 4:14.46; 9. *Stefanie Parsons (NM) 4:14.58; 10. **Megan Marvin (Furm) 4:15.76; 11. Grace Jensen (Vand) 4:17.07; 12. Rachel McArthur (Co) 4:21.15.

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