Olympic Trials Women’s 1500 — A Shove Was The Key

The New Balance trio of Elle Purrier St. Pierre, Cory McGee & Heather MacLean are off to the Olympics. (KEVIN MORRIS)

IT WAS AS IF a New England dairy cow delivered a kick to Elle Purrier St. Pierre. It was strong enough to send her 4900M across the Pacific Ocean.

To Tokyo.

“I couldn’t believe I’d just been shoved off the track,” she said. “After that, I thought I’d just go for it.”

Purrier St. Pierre, startled by a sideways push in the opening 50m of the 1500 that left her briefly running on the infield, decided on the spot to push the pace and led all the way to win in a list-leading 3:58.03.

The time broke the OT Record of 3:58.92 that Mary Slaney had held for 33 years. Cory McGee was 2nd in 4:00.67 and Heather MacLean 3rd in 4:02.09 as the top 3 all set PRs and supplied New Balance with a sweep.

MacLean was 5th with 300m left, passing Shannon Osika and Dani Jones. Osika finished 4th in 4:02.18, the fading Jones 9th at 4:06.46.

But MacLean’s earning of the final team spot didn’t come easily. She had originally finished a non-qualifying 6th in her semi but was advanced on appeal after a contact incident.

The field was so deep that 7 of 13 finalists had met the Olympic standard of 4:04.20, but with a PR of 4:04.85, MacLean wasn’t among them, being just a tantalizing 0.65 shy. Her new PR took care of that. MacLean, who was in Purrier St. Pierre’s wedding, is also the winner’s training partner.

Helen Schlachtenhaufen, 12th with 300m left, finished 5th in 4:04.41. Stanford’s Julie Heymach, who was last in her NCAA semi, moved from 10th to 6th in the closing 300 and clocked a PR 4:04.84.

“I’ve definitely thought about Tokyo on my runs with my dog,” said Purrier St. Pierre, who was raised on a farm near Berkshire, Vermont (pop. 1689). “Every day when I run, I’m thinking, ‘I’m doing this to make the team.’ I’ve been thinking about Tokyo for quite a few years now.”

Purrier St. Pierre, 26, had been building toward this night. She was NCAA Indoor mile champion in 2018 for New Hampshire, 11th in the 5000 at the ’19 Worlds and set an American indoor mile record of 4:16.85 last year.

Jenny Simpson, 34, the ’11 world champion and Rio bronze medalist, was aiming for a fourth Olympics. She finished 10th in 4:07.76.

Simpson conceded it was “hard to believe” she had not made the team. She had been on every Olympic or WC team since ’07. She did not suggest retirement, saying she wanted to continue racing this year.

“The sport goes on without you,” she said. “You don’t make the Games, and the Games are fine and they go on without you.”

They go on because of those like Simpson showing the way for these 3 first-time Olympians.

“I could go on and on about Jenny,” McGee said. “She’s done these benchmark things that make younger women feel like they can achieve those same things. Once someone does it, others think ‘maybe I can do that.’ She’s someone I’ve always looked up to. I have a million and one reasons to be grateful for Jenny Simpson.”

WOMEN’S 1500 RESULTS

(June 21)

1. Elle Purrier St. Pierre (NBal) 3:58.03 (AL) (6, 11 A) (MR)

(64.79, 64.41 [2:09.20], 62.21 [3:11.41], 46.62);

2. Cory McGee (NBal) 4:00.67 PR

(65.00, 64.30 [2:09.30], 62.20 [3:11.50], 49.17);

3. Heather MacLean (NBalB) 4:02.09 PR

(65.91, 64.64 [2:10.55], 63.18 [3:13.73], 48.36);

4. Shannon Osika (Nik) 4:02.18

(66.20, 63.45 [2:09.65], 63.04 [3:12.69], 49.49);

5. Helen Schlachtenhaufen (Sauc) 4:04.41

(65.84, 65.26 [2:11.10], 65.70 [3:16.80], 47.61);

6. Julia Heymach (Stan) 4:04.84 PR

(66.23, 65.47 [2:11.70], 64.31 [3:16.01], 48.83);

7. Grace Barnett (MammTC) 4:05.05 =PR

(66.39, 64.51 [2:10.90], 64.61 [3:15.51], 49.54);

8. Dani Aragon (EmpE) 4:05.09 PR

(66.37, 64.90 [2:11.27], 64.54 [3:15.81], 49.28);

9. Dani Jones (NBal) 4:06.46

(65.19, 64.32 [2:09.51], 63.73 [3:13.24], 53.22);

10. Jenny Simpson (NBal) 4:07.76

(65.64, 64.97 [2:10.61], 64.85 [3:15.46], 52.30);

11. Rebecca Mehra (OisLWA) 4:08.47

(66.04, 64.98 [2:11.02], 65.57 [3:16.59], 51.88);

12. Sinclaire Johnson (NikBowTC) 4:08.81

(65.72, 65.03 [2:10.75], 65.01 [3:15.76], 53.05) ;

13. Nikki Hiltz (adi) 4:10.60

(65.44, 64.81 [2:10.25], 66.88 [3:17.13], 53.47)

HEATS (June 18)

I–1. Simpson 4:11.34; 2. Hiltz 4:11.42; 3. Osika 4:11.59; 4. Barnett 4:11.73; 5. Schlachtenhaufen 4:11.82; 6. Heymach 4:12.41; 7. Heather Kampf (AsicsMDE) 4:13.76; 8. Amaris Tyynismaa (Al) 4:14.59; 9. Krissy Gear (Ar) 4:19.81; 10. Taryn Rawlings (UArm) 4:21.11.

II–1. Aragon 4:13.34; 2. Jones 4:13.47; 3. Sarah Lancaster (unat) 4:13.60; 4. Mehra 4:13.71; 5. Whittni Morgan (BYU) 4:13.74; 6. Eleanor Fulton (unat) 4:14.41; 7. Amanda Rego (TracksmCSTC) 4:14.80; 8. Alexa Efraimson (Nik) 4:16.70; 9. Micaela Degenero (Co) 4:18.34.

III–1. Purrier St. Pierre 4:11.78; 2. MacLean 4:11.85; 3. McGee 4:11.86; 4. Johnson 4:11.95; 5. Amanda Eccleston (Brk) 4:12.06; 6. Ella Donaghu (Stan) 4:12.16; 7. Anna Camp-Bennett (BYU) 4:12.63; 8. Lauren Johnson (unat) 4:12.67; 9. Karisa Nelson (BrkB) 4:13.98.

SEMIS (June 19)

I–1. Purrier St. Pierre 4:09.18; 2. Simpson 4:09.92; 3. Aragon 4:09.94; 4. Schlachtenhaufen 4:10.40; 5. Mehra 4:10.41; 6. MacLean 4:10.65 (advanced on appeal); 7. Lancaster 4:11.05; 8. Camp-Bennett 4:12.05; 9. Donaghu 4:12.08; 10. Nelson 4:15.40; 11. Eccleston 4:17.80; 12. Johnson 4:29.00.

II–1. Hiltz 4:05.87; 2. McGee 4:05.96; 3. Johnson 4:06.04; 4. Osika 4:06.14; 5. Jones 4:06.81; 6. Barnett 4:07.70; 7. Heymach 4:09.65 PR; 8. Morgan 4:10.70; 9. Fulton 4:12.07; 10. Rego 4:12.50; 11. Tyynismaa 4:13.14; 12. Kampf 4:21.56.

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