Houlihan Wins 2-Mile and Earns Ninth National Title – runnersworld.com

Houlihan Wins 2-Mile and Earns Ninth National Title  runnersworld.com

A competitive field of elite runners are vying for national titles at the 2019 USATF Indoor Championships in New York this weekend.

  • Colleen Quigley won her first national title in the women’s mile race on Saturday, just beating her teammate Shelby Houlihan.
  • The men’s 2-mile race on Saturday was won in the “slower” heat by Drew Hunter, who now owns the world-best time at the distance.
  • In a Sunday-night upset in the women’s 600 meters, 16-year-old Athing Mu defeated Raevyn Rogers, the , in an American record time.
  • One day after losing to Quigley in the mile race, Houlihan took first in the two-mile race on Sunday and earned her ninth national title.

    Some of our country’s best runners battled it out on the indoor oval this weekend at the USATF Indoor Track Championships at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Facility in Staten Island, New York.

    American records fell, and while some athletes simply added to their growing list of accolades, others came out with their first big wins. Here is a look at some of the top performances from the weekend.

    Men’s Mile

    USATF Indoors

    © 2019 Kevin Morris

    Sit-and-kick races are always fun to watch, and the men’s mile on Sunday lived up to expectations. The event started out conservatively, with a lead pack of runners that included Craig Engels, John Gregorek, Sam Prakel, and Eric Avila splitting 2:06 for the first 800 meters. With less than 600 meters to go, Engels pulled ahead to win in 3:59.69, splitting 1:53 for the second half of his race. Henry Wynne finished 2nd in 4:00.20, while John Gregorek placed 3rd in 4:00.26.

    “I felt good,” Engels told Runner’s World afterward. “I looked behind me with 150 meters to go, and no one was coming, so I put myself to work.”

    The Nike Oregon Project runner had a satisfying 2018 season, collecting a runner-up finish in the 1500 at last year’s IAAF World Indoor Track Championships and the . “Last year was really good, but I’ve been improving since then,” he said. “I’ve been working on strength training and focusing more on becoming a full athlete, rather than just running.”

    Engels said he dealt with an achy Achilles earlier this week, which is why he decided to focus on just running the mile this weekend, rather than doubling in another race. Before he dives into summer training for outdoor track, he plans to spend some time recovering and traveling in the R.V. he lives in at his homebase of Portland, Oregon.

    “I’m so pumped,” Engels said. “After I’m finished racing this season, I’m taking the R.V. to Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City, and then back to Portland with some friends. It’s going to be cramped. It’s the perfect off-season activity.”

    Women’s 2-Mile

    USATF Indoors

    © 2019 Kevin Morris

    After placing 2nd to Colleen Quigley in Saturday’s mile race, Shelby Houlihan came back with a vengeance in the 2-mile. The Bowerman Track member ran in 2nd place behind Elinor Purrier for the early laps of the race, splitting 4:51.82 for her first mile.

    Then with two laps to go, Houlihan pulled into the lead, dropping a 30.90 split for her final 200 meters. Houlihan broke the tape—winning her ninth national title—in a world lead time of 9:31.38, while Katie Mackey finished 2nd in 9:33.70 and Elinor Purrier placed 3rd in 9:34.65.

    “I felt stronger today,” Houlihan said. “I heard the music come on, and that gave me a little boost. That last 1,200 meters hurt more than I wanted it to, but I was hoping it was hurting just as much for everyone else. I don’t really trust my kick all that much right now, since I haven’t been doing a ton of speedwork. I’m definitely relying more on my strength than my speed in races.”

    Houlihan’s victory was even sweeter after her disappointing runner-up finish in the mile, which Quigley—who was originally entered to run the 2-mile as well, but was scratched from the race today—won with a strong closing kick.

    “I don’t like to lose, and that was a rough one to lose,” she said. “But I woke up this morning and thought, ‘new day, new race.’ My goal was to come into this race with a positive attitude.”

    Women’s 600


    In perhaps the biggest upset of the night on Sunday, 16-year-old Athing Mu defeated Raevyn Rogers, the , in an American record time of 1:23.57 (the old record, 1:23.59, was held Alysia Montaño), shaving off more than two seconds from the record she set at Saturday’s prelim heat. Rogers finished second in 1:24.88.

    “I didn’t think I could break 1:25,” Mu told NBC after the race. “I definitely didn’t think I could win a national title! I’m so happy.”

    Along with a national title, the high schooler also has a national record to take home this weekend.

    “When I took a picture with my time after the race, I thought people had said I’d set a high school record, but then I saw the little ‘AR’ in the corner of the clock,” Mu told Runner’s World. “I’m in shock! I don’t usually run the 600, so I don’t really know the times too well. I just wanted to maintain my composure and give everything I had at the end.”

    Women’s 1,000

    Ajee Wilson

    © 2019 Kevin Morris

    Ajee’ Wilson, who set a national record of 1:58.6 for 800 meters indoors earlier this month at the Millrose Games, won her ninth national title in the 1,000 meters on Sunday, breaking the tape decisively in 2:34.71—which is the fastest 1,000 time in the world so far this year. Hanna Green finished runner-up in 2:35.40, while Ce’Aira Brown placed 3rd in 2:35.62.

    Men’s 1,000

    Clayton Murphy, Nike Oregon Project runner and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the 800 meters, crushed the competition in the 1,000 meters, winning in 2:20.36. Abraham Alvarado placed 2nd in 2:21.08, while Brannon Kidder won bronze in 2:21.23.

    Men’s 600

    USATF Indoors

    © 2019 Kevin Morris

    Donovan Brazier, who set the new national record for 800 meters (1:44.41) earlier this month, unleashed his strong kick to win the 600 meters in a world best time of 1:13.77 (since the 600 is not one of the approved distances for world records, it’s technically not a world record, but it is the fastest time ever run in that distance). After a tight race for the next two spots in the race, Sam Ellison placed 2nd in 1:15.20 and Kameron Jones finished 3rd in 1:15.32.

    Women’s Mile

    It was probably the most anticipated race of Saturday night, and it didn’t disappoint.

    After some shuffling in the early laps of the women’s mile, the race boiled down to a head-to-head match between Bowerman Track Club teammates Colleen Quigley and Shelby Houlihan. Quigley bursted ahead with 600 meters to go, leading a pack that included Houlihan, Cory McGee, and Shannon Osika. When the two teammates pulled away in the final 200 meters, Quigley held off Houlihan’s famous kick, winning her first national title in 4:29.47. Houlihan finished 2nd in 4:29.92, while McGee placed 3rd in 4:30.14.

    “I knew I couldn’t wait until the final 100 to kick, because I didn’t want to take a chance with Shelby,” Quigley told Runner’s World. “I think this is my first time beating her in anything. She’s very dominant in every event.”

    For Houlihan, she said it was a case where Quigley had the better day.

    “My workouts recently have been amazing, so I figured I’d feel amazing today, but I just didn’t feel good,” Houlihan told Runner’s World. “I knew Colleen was fast, and I knew I couldn’t let her get too far away from me. Maybe I should have made a move earlier, but what can you do? Today I needed raw speed, and it just wasn’t there.”

    After wrapping up her meet, Quigley said she’s going to take some time off before starting training for outdoor track.

    “It feels really good to work really hard for something and have it finally pay off,” Quigley said. “I’m looking forward to staying healthy and building up my strength for the long outdoor season ahead.”

    [Want to start running? The Big Book of Running for Beginners will take you through everything you need to know to get started, step by step]

    Men’s 2-Mile

    Drew Hunter

    On Saturday night, in the slower heat of two, 21-year-old Drew Hunter, who runs for Boulder-based Tinman Elite, won decisively, breaking the tape in a world-best time of 8:25.29. He ran relaxed in second place for the first half of the race—splitting the first mile around 4:16—then surged ahead with seven laps to go, closing his second mile in a negative split time of 4:09.

    “My goal was just to run as fast as I can, because there’s another heat,” Hunter, who didn’t have a seed time going into the race, told Runner’s World after his race. “I took it out fast, and I’m hoping the other guys mess around for a couple laps. But we’ll see. I saw a couple of them in the stands, so that doesn’t do me any good.”

    When the second heat stepped onto the track to close out day No. 2, Hunter stood on the sidelines, watching anxiously. As he predicted, the race started out slower than Hunter’s heat, splitting 4:26 for the first mile. Eric Avila, Tripp Hurt, and Dillon Maggard surged ahead with two laps to go, then Avila won the heat—but placing 2nd overall to Hunter—in a time of 8:32.41, closing his final mile in an impressive negative split of 4:06. Hurt finished 3rd overall in 8:32.72, while Maggard ran 8:33.28 to place 4th.

    Once the race finished, Hunter pumped his fists on the sidelines.

    “That was not the way I expected to win my first U.S. title,” he told NBC after the race. “I think I was more nervous watching.”