Friday, June 8, 2007

Rupp Gets Outkicked in NCAA Championships 10,000m

Shadrack Songok outkicked Galen Rupp on Thursday to take the 2007 NCAA men's 10,000m title at Sacramento, CA in 28:55.83. Rupp was 0.36 seconds back. His plan had been to sit on Songok until there were 3 laps to go. That was a recipe for certain defeat.

A while back I commented on this very thing, but Rupp must not be reading my blog, or he chose (perish the thought!) to ignore my advice, which was to begin his press for home from further out – 4 laps. But with the slow pace (4:45 per mile) for the first 5000m (14:45), I'm not sure even that extra lap would have made much of a difference. You see, Rupp's not a kicker, contrary to what Tom Feuer, the FSN announcer, proclaimed (effused?) during the PAC 10 broadcast.

What happened to Rupp was exactly the same thing that happened to Steve Prefontaine at the 1972 Munich Olympic 5000m final. The pace for the first half of that race was so slow that it didn't kill the kicks of the speedsters in the race. In the end, 3 men outlicked Pre.

Rupp had entered the NCAA race boasting a 2007 best 10000m time (27:33.48) that was 42.99 seconds faster than Songok's 2007 best of 28:16.47. There is no way he should have gotten beat. But he got overconfident in his kick, which was a big mistake. At the U.S. Championships, he'll need to do two things: run more-even splits and run them at a much faster pace (64 to 65 seconds per lap). If that's his game plan in Indianapolis, he should have a chance against Abdi Abdirahman, whose PBs are 27:22.81 (10,000m) and 13:19.81 (5000m). Unfortunately, he may not do that. His plan right now is to, "maybe do a little more speedwork." That's never going to work. He needs to put himself in a position where he doesn't have to rely on a kick.

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