USATF Women’s Steeple — Favored Coburn’s Favorite

No. 1 formcharter Emma Coburn rated this as the best of her 10 national titles. (KEVIN MORRIS)

NATIONALS-LEVEL U.S. steeplechase races in recent years have featured the Big 2: Emma Coburn, 9-time USATF champion with bronze in Rio and WC gold in ’17; and Courtney Frerichs, the AR holder at 8:57.77 and the silver medalist from Tokyo. Coburn has always gotten the better of Frerichs at the national meet but Frerichs has two faster performances and a more prestigious Olympic medal.

Their fitness was questioned coming into the meet having run “just” 9:18.19 for 8th (Coburn) and 9:20.96 for 9th (Frerichs) at Pre. Frerichs is battling low iron and celiac disease. However, Coburn allayed some of her doubters’ fears with a near-PR 4:04.44 at the Portland Track Festival two weeks ago.

This year, BYU’s Courtney Wayment had been the talk of the event. At the NCAA she ran a spectacular 9:16.00 for an American leader, NCAA title and the Collegiate Record. If anyone was coming into this meet über-confident, it was Wayment.

In the final, Wayment reluctantly led and by 500m the top 6 were running single-file. At the kilo (3:04.09), a quartet had broken away: Wayment, Coburn, Frerichs and unheralded Gabbi Jennings, the ex-Furman star who came into the meet with a PR of 9:38.24 and set a PR 9:32.06 in the heats.

Wayment continued to lead the field through 2km (3:08.00). With just over 600 to go Coburn, going for her 10th title and working to maintain her perfect record in this meet, took the lead for the first and final time. Coburn, 31, again showed her amazing dominance in this meet and won in a U.S.-leading 9:10.63, just off her meet record of 9:09.41 (’21).

Wayment, 23, battled back and forth with Frerichs, 29, until pulling away late from Frerichs in the battle of Courtneys. Wayment ran a PR 9:12.10 for 2nd and Frerichs finished third in 9:16.18. Jennings was 4th (9:25.05 PR) and Katie Rainsberger was 5th (9:29.77 PR).

Coburn, Jennings and Rainsberger are all coached by Joe Bosshard (Team Boss), who is Emma Coburn’s husband. The top 3 all have the WC qualifier so they will be back in three weeks for Oregon22.

Frerichs was stepped on in the first 100 and told reporter Kyle Merber that she was worried about losing her shoe the entire race. She would thereafter focus on just making the team and not necessarily trying to win.

Coburn told the crowd “My No. 1 goal is make teams – Olympics and Worlds — and if I can win the race also, that is an added benefit.” Asked which of her 10 titles is her best, she responded “I think it’s this year. Qualifying for a World team on US soil. That’s special. Doing it in front of my mom. And [all of that coming] after a really crummy experience in my last big race in Tokyo.”


FINAL (June 26; interior waterjump)

1. Emma Coburn (NBal) 9:10.63 (AL)

(42.54, 72.12 [1:54.66], 73.51 [3:08.17], 74.29 [4:22.46], 74.78 [5:37.24], 73.27 [6:50.51], 70.11 [8:00.62], 70.01) (70.01, 2:20.12, 3:33.39, 4:48.17);

2. Courtney Wayment (On) 9:12.10 PR (4, x A)

(69.93, 2:21.79, 3:35.09, 4:49.84);

3. Courtney Frerichs (NikBowTC) 9:16.18 (74.24, 2:25.80, 3:39.05, 4:53.60);

4. Gabbi Jennings (adi) 9:25.05 PR (77.57, 2:33.91, 3:47.69, 5:02.15);

5. Katie Rainsberger (NBal) 9:29.77 PR (73.17, 2:29.32, 3:47.12, 5:04.52);

6. Andrea Rodenfels (BAA) 9:36.45;

7. Carmen Graves (GSTC) 9:40.39;

8. Val Constien (unat) 9:42.96;

9. Madie Boreman (Co) 9:46.71; 10. Kayley Delay (Yale) 9:46.91; 11. Logan Jolly (Ar) 9:46.91; 12. Abby Kohut-Jackson (Mn) 9:49.70; 13. Alissa Niggemann (Wi) 10:01.53;… dnc—Colleen Quigley (lulu).

HEATS (June 24)

I–1. Frerichs 9:31.25; 2. Jennings 9:32.06 PR; 3. Quigley 9:36.26; 4. Constien 9:36.73; 5. Delay 9:40.17; 6. Boreman 9:50.44; 7. Kayla Windemuller (Mi) 9:51.30; 8. Emily Cole (Duke) 9:58.15; 9. Judi Jones (unat) 10:05.33; 10. Jessica Scheriff (TracksmC) 10:08.34; 11. Corinne Fitzgerald (CPTC) 10:14.78; 12. Meredith Rizzo (TracksmB) 10:32.17.

II–1. Coburn 9:40.53; 2. Wayment 9:41.64; 3. Rainsberger 9:41.83; 4. Rodenfels 9:44.59; 5. Jolly 9:45.23; 6. Niggemann 9:46.12; 7. Kohut-Jackson 9:47.65; 8. Graves 9:47.79; 9. Tori Gerlach (TinE) 10:05.20; 10. Dana Klein (IdA) 10:10.89; 11. Caroline Austin (Tracksm) 10:15.13. ◻︎