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Galen Rupp outkicks Bernard Lagat to win 5,000 meters

Rupp becomes the first runner to win both the 5,000 and 10,000 at the U.S. trials since Curtis Stone in 1952.

June 28, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Galen Rupp leads Lopez Lomong, left, and Bernard Lagat during his victory in the 5,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials on Thursday evening in Eugene, Ore.
Galen Rupp leads Lopez Lomong, left, and Bernard Lagat during his victory… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)

EUGENE, Ore. -- With a gutsy race contested in the place it was most appreciated, with Hayward Field vibrating with excitement, Galen Rupp created a memorable moment in a place that has seen more than its share of distance-running feats.

Rupp, who last week won the U.S. Olympic trials 10,000-meter race and a berth in the London Games, was leading the 5,000 Thursday night until Bernard Lagat passed him with about 100 meters left. Rupp hadn't beaten Lagat in 12 previous tries. This looked to be No. 13.

"Normally that's my strength," Lagat said of his ability to speed away at the end, "but today was really different."

Rupp outkicked Lagat in the final few strides to win in 13 minutes 22.67 seconds, breaking the U.S. Olympic trials record of 13:22.80 set in 1972 by legend Steve Prefontaine. Lopez Lomong grabbed third in 13:24.47.

"I feel like the luckiest guy," said Rupp, who ran here while competing for the University of Oregon.

Added Rupp, who became the first runner to win both the 5,000 and 10,000 at the U.S. trials since Curtis Stone in 1952: "I couldn't be any more blessed."

Lagat, a four-time U.S. champion in the 5,000 and two-time Olympic medalist at 1,500 meters, said Rupp's run was "amazing," and said the three will contend for medals in London. "It makes me feel good to be part of this team," Lagat said.

Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh still aren't sure if they will be part of the 100-meter team because their tie in that event remains unresolved, but both returned to the track Thursday to win their respective preliminary heats in the 200.

Felix (22.82) and Tarmoh (22.90) will compete in the semifinals on Friday. Tianna Madison had the top preliminary time, 22.57, followed by trials 100-meter champion Carmelita Jeter (22.63). Sanya Richards-Ross, the 400 trials champion, had the third-best time, 22.67. Felix and Tarmoh didn't comment after their races.

"The first round is always the toughest because you really want to go for it but you want to stay controlled," Richards-Ross said.

An exciting finish in the discus, not usually a glamorous event, had the crowd roaring earlier in the day.

Lance Brooks, who fits his training around his construction job in Denver, uncorked a lifetime-best throw of 65.15 meters (213 feet, nine inches) on his final try to win, exceed the Olympic A standard, and earn a trip to London.

The idea he could earn a living at this "dawned on me a little over a year ago," Brooks said. "I'm sure this will sink in, in a couple of days, maybe a week."

Evan Jager of Algonquin, Ill., competing in only his fourth 3,000-meter steeplechase event, made the Olympic team by winning in 8:17.40. A former 5,000-meter runner, he took to the hurdles and water hazards as if he were born to the event. "I was in the lead with 500 to go and pushed it from there," he said. "I saw I had it and had pure elation on my face and I knew I was going to London."

Walker wins pole vault

Three-time U.S. outdoor pole vault champion Brad Walker earned his second Olympic berth by clearing 5.67 meters (18 feet 71/4 inches). He will be joined by runner-up Jeremy Scott and fourth-place finisher Derek Miles because third-place finisher Scott Roth hasn't met the Olympic A standard.… Julie Culley won the women's 5,000 in 15:13.77, followed by Molly Huddle (15:14.40) and Kim Conley (15:19.79).

Demus leads way

Inglewood native Lashinda Demus, the world champion in the 400-meter hurdles, had the top preliminary time of 55.29 seconds in her event despite easing up toward the end. "It's all about being as fresh as you can for the final race," said Demus, who added she had recovered from a torn hamstring earlier this season but still wasn't at peak fitness.

Two-time Olympic 400-meter hurdles gold medalist Angelo Taylor had the second-best men's preliminary time of 49.53 seconds, behind Kerron Clement's 49.37.

Acuff in contention

Six women cleared 1.79 meters (5-101/2) and 1.83 meters (6 feet) without a miss in the high jump and led a field of 17 into Saturday's final. Among the leaders are Amy Acuff, vying for her fifth Olympics at age 36, and Chaunte Lowe of Riverside, a four-time U.S. outdoor champion who gave birth to her second child 14 months ago.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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