SACRAMENTO, Calif. | Don't give Shelby Houlihan a chance to win a race on the final lap because even American record holders can't keep up.
Houlihan, a Sioux City native and 2016 Olympian, overtook reigning 10,000-meter American record holder Molly Huddle while 5,000-meter U.S. record holder Shannon Rowbury couldn't catch her. Houlihan made her move in the final 200 meters to win the 5,000 at the 2017 USA Outdoor track and Field Championships here Friday night.
It was Houlihan's first outdoor national title and qualifies her for the world championships in London.
“I was thinking I had to make a huge move to drop them because I know how tough they are," she said. "I was just trying to give it everything I had in the last 100 and hope to hold them off. I was kinda eyeing the scoreboard to see if anyone was coming on me but I was able to hold them off so it felt good.”
Houlihan, a Sioux City East grad, ran a 15:13.87 to edge Rowbury who finished in 15:14.08. Huddle took third in 15:15.29.
Houlihan, who ran the 800 at this event just three years ago, showed that impressive final-lap speed by putting down a 61.63 to cruise into the finish line. She covered the final 200 in 29.7.
This is just the latest statement win for an athlete who had not trained extensively for the 5,000-meter distance prior to making the U.S. Olympic team for the Rio de Janerio Games. She qualified for the finals in Rio and ended up placing 11th.
Former North high prep Biya Simbassa finished fourth in the men's 10,000 in a race where the top five runners were separated by just three seconds.
Simbassa, competing for American Distance Project, ran 29:03.48 to finish just behind race winner Hassan Mead of Nike who won in 29:01.44.
Shadrack Kipchirchir finished second in 29:01.68 while Leonard Korir was third in 29:03.64. Galen Rupp, a 2016 Rio Olympian, was fifth in 29:04.61.
South Dakota freshman Chris Nilsen cleared a personal best 18 feet, 10 ¼ inches, to finish third in the pole vault at the U.S. Outdoor National Championships.
Nilsen will represent the United States at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, England, later this summer, thanks to his top three finish in the event.
Nilsen joins 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist Sam Kendricks and Andrew Irwin on the United States’ team for the world championship meet. Kendricks won his fourth-straight U.S. title in the event in 19-8 ¼. Irwin also made 18-10 ¼ for second place.
After taking three attempts to make 18-0 ½, Nilsen coasted past the next three heights of 18-4 ½, 18-6 ½ and 18-8 ¼ on first-attempt makes. Five athletes remained in the competition as the bar rose to 18-10 ¼. Nilsen’s make on his second attempt landed him the qualifying spot.
Nilsen is just the fourth collegian since 2000 to place in the top-three of the pole vault at the U.S. Outdoor Championships and the only freshman of the elite group.