USATF Women’s 1500 — There’s That Old Familiar Kick Again

Just like last year, Shelby Houlihan launched an uncatchable last-lap sprint. (MIKE SCOTT)

LAUREN JOHNSON may only have finished 12th, but her bold pacing played a major role in the outcome of the 1500. The 32-year-old Indiana native, who has a PR of 4:04.17 from ’15 but still lacked the Q-standard of 4:06.50, set off on an ambitious pace, hitting 64.64 and 2:11.09 on her first two circuits. Conspicuously, the rest of the field did not go along with her, as Shannon Osika and Jenny Simpson led the chase pack, hitting the 800 in 2:13.5. “Accept this as a gift, that you have somebody willing to take it,” said Simpson. “I wanted to see if she was serious and she very much was.”

Johnson’s margin grew to more than 20m and eventually put a pressure on the others to not let her get too far ahead. Simpson led the charge after the 800 mark, with favored Shelby Houlihan, Osika, Kate Grace and Nikki Hiltz in tight formation behind her. “You never just let someone have a spot,” Simpson explained.

With a lap to go, Simpson finally nabbed Johnson and moved to the lead, hitting 3:02.46 at the bell. She wasn’t alone. With 300 left (3:18.08), Simpson still had 5 others close behind in her wake with Houlihan and Grace closest. ‘I hardly ever look up at the board but I did this time,” said Simpson. “Thinking, ‘Have we broken away at all?’ From my estimation, no. It was just go and run as hard as you can.”

Houlihan, who kicked her way to a No. 1 World Ranking last year, waited until the 1400 mark to pass Simpson, holding a single-stride lead to the line to defend her title, 4:03.18–4:03.41. “When I did make that move,” said Houlihan, “I just wanted it to be hammer down, just kind of crushing dreams a little bit.”

Simpson quipped, “I tried to match Shelby down the straightaway, but it just… aw man, I loved every step of the race today.”

Grace nearly pulled even with Simpson and looked to have a grasp on the No. 3 spot. However, right on her heels were Hiltz and Sinclaire Johnson, the NCAA champ and the youngest in the field. Hiltz first tried to pass Grace on the outside but found her way blocked by Johnson. So she swerved to the inside and with a terrific sprint caught Grace with 20 to go to take the final team berth in 4:03.55. “I just prayed for a lane to open up and I just squeaked through,” said Hiltz. “My only race plan was to have a good last 100.” Johnson edged ahead of Grace in the final strides to capture 4th in a PR 4:03.72 to Grace’s 4:03.82. Osika held on for a PR 4:04.80 in 6th.

Altogether, the top 5 broke 4:04, a mark that had never been bettered by more than 2 finishers in any previous USATF race.

Houlihan, for her part, has already set her sights on Doha. “Now I know I can compete with the world’s best. I want to go for a medal.”


USATF WOMEN’S 1500 RESULTS

FINAL

(July 27)

1. Shelby Houlihan (BowTC) 4:03.18 (pace—49.38, 67.31 [1:56.69], 65.90 [3:02.59], 60.59) (finish—60.59, 2:06.49, 3:13.80);

2. Jenny Simpson (NBal) 4:03.41

(60.95, 2:06.86, 3:13.85);

3. Nikki Hiltz (adi) 4:03.55 PR

(60.83, 2:06.83, 3:14.74);

4. Sinclaire Johnson (OkSt) 4:03.72 PR

(60.65, 2:06.76, 3:14.40);

5. Kate Grace (BowTC) 4:03.82

(61.13, 2:06.94, 3:14.40);

6. Shannon Osika (Nik) 4:04.80 PR

(61.94, 2:08.21, 3:16.14);

7. Heather Maclean (NBal) 4:05.27 PR

(62.04, 2:07.97, 3:15.56);

8. Karisa Nelson (BB) 4:06.14 PR

(63.17, 2:09.21, 3:16.93);

9. Elise Cranny (BowTC) 4:06.19

(63.36, 2:09.12, 3:16.99);

10. Katie Mackey (BB) 4:08.57

(65.32, 2:11.43, 3:19.05);

11. Eleanor Fulton (unat) 4:11.00;

12. Lauren Johnson (BAA) 4:11.99

(48.23, 65.91 [1:54.14]).

HEATS

(July 25)

I–1. Grace 4:10.23; 2. S. Johnson 4:10.43; 3. Mackey 4:10.98; 4. L. Johnson 4:11.44; 5. Dani Jones (Co) 4:12.00; 6. Jennifer Martinez (OkSt) 4:12.35; 7. Alexa Efraimson (Nik) 4:12.35; 8. Taryn Rawlings (unat) 4:14.68; 9. Amanda Eccleston (Brk) 4:15.63; 10. Jenna Hinkle (HokaAg) 4:19.96.

II–1. Cranny 4:19.99; 2. Simpson 4:20.12; 3. Osika 4:20.93; 4. Helen Schlachtenhaufen (SaucF) 4:22.53; 5. Lianne Farber (NBal) 4:22.79; 6. Dana Giordano (BAA) 4:22.90; 7. Megan Mansy (HokaNJNY) 4:24.22; 8. Ayla Granados (rabPenD) 4:26.73; 9. Amelia Paladino (OceanSt) 4:29.84;… dq—Cory McGee (NBal).

III–1. Houlihan 4:07.35; 2. Hiltz 4:07.40; 3. Nelson 4:07.66 PR; 4. MacLean 4:08.35; 5. Fulton 4:08.42 PR; 6. Jessica Harris (Nik) 4:12.46; 7. Raquel Lambdin (MisAC) 4:16.80; 8. Emily Lipari (adiMis) 4:20.18; 9. Heather Kampf (AsicsTMn) 4:25.45.

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