EUGENE, OREGON, May 27 — In the end, making the 10,000m squad didn’t come down to who could cover 25 laps the fastest. It came down to who could sprint. And the winner of the last-lap dash was Joe Klecker, who fought his way to a 28:28.71 win, besting favored Grant Fisher by a mere 10th.
That — despite ideal conditions — it would be a pedestrian affair became abundantly clear after opening laps of 72.61 and 77.90. Zach Panning did much of the early work in front, even attempting a quixotic breakaway, but after a few laps he was easily reeled in by the pack. Then Samuel Chelanga and Emmanuel Bor put in their time up front, Bor leading past halfway in 14:31.27.
Through it all, many eyes followed Fisher, who had run a 26:33.84 American Record 82 days earlier. Not just fans’ eyes: every time Fisher moved toward the front, he was followed by a cast of contenders, not wanting to be caught off-guard if he were to make a decisive break.
But Fisher’s big move never came. In the last half, the pace didn’t pick up appreciably. OT champion Woody Kincaid was hit by a side stitch, dropping out in distress at 6600m. A revolving cast of characters kept taking turns at the front, Bor leading past 8K in 23:08.24. With three laps to go, 16 remained in the pack.
Finally, at two to go, Klecker edged ahead of Bor. Fisher, in 6th, had to negotiate traffic to respond, finally making it to Klecker’s shoulder with 500 left. At the bell, Klecker started really rolling, and Shadrack Kipchirchir moved up and blocked Fisher’s response. Fisher elbowed Kipchirchir out of the way to chase Klecker hard.
With 200 left Klecker had a half-stride on Fisher, with Bor, Lomong, McGorty and Kipchirchir still in the fight. On the final straight, Fisher pulled inches ahead but the 25-year-old Colorado alum responded with a better sprint, his last lap 54.81. He explained his last-lap plan: “If anyone pulled up on my shoulder, I’d go with them, and give them a fight to the line.”
“I’m not very happy with my tactics over the last couple of laps,” admitted Fisher. “I’m disappointed.”
Behind the top two, it appeared that Bor had the final team spot in hand, but when he saw Sean McGorty sprinting hard, he departed from his straight line to the finish and twice swerved to cut McGorty off before stumbling over his own feet and falling. McGorty took the spot in 28:29.57, with Bor picking himself up to cross in 8th (28:32.90).
USATF 10,000 CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS
1. Joe Klecker (OnAC) 28:28.71
2. Grant Fisher (NikBowTC) 28:28.81
3. Sean McGorty (NikBowTC) 28:29.57
4. Dillon Maggard (unat) 28:30.75
5. Shadrack Kipchirchir (ADP) 28:30.79
6. Lopez Lomong (NikBowTC) 28:31.24
7. Conner Mantz (Nik) 28:31.68
8. Emmanuel Bor (unat) 28:32.90
9. Frank Lara (Altra) 28:33.92
10. Sam Chelanga (USAr) 28:35.08
11. Biya Simbassa (UArmDS) 28:35.39
12. Zach Panning (HansB) 28:44.04
13. Ben Eidenschink (unat) 28:46.26
14. Geoffrey Kipchumba (USAr) 28:47.02
15. Ryan Kutch (CPTCTracksm) 28:49.05
16. Tai Dinger (WiRRT) 28:51.52
17. Jacob Thomson (UArm) 28:53.74
18. Aidan Reed (RootsRP) 29:10.37
19. Johnathan Reniewicki (UArm) 29:20.51
… dnf—Woody Kincaid (NikBowTC)
(leader kilos: Panning 3:09.46, 2:47.16 [5:56.62], 2:51.79 [8:48.41]; Chelanga 2:50.70 [11:39.11]; Bor 2:52.16 [14:31.27]; Thomson 2:55.22 [17:26.49], 2:47.54 [20:14.03]; Bor 2:54.21 [23:08.24]; Lara 2:54.02 [26:02.26]; Klecker 2:26.45)