Uhl-Koll to London; Nelson Finishes Great Season
EUGENE, Ore. - Former Iowa State track and field great Lisa Koll-Uhl made the U.S. Olympic Team that will compete next month in the London Olympic Games. She finished fourth in the US Olympic Trials 10,000-meters at Hayward Field Friday. Cyclone junior Meaghan Nelson ran a strong race and finished 12th, the end of a great season. That is the short of it. It's the long of it is harder to believe, especially for two Iowa girls who never won a state title.
Koll-Uhl and Nelson came into the race with very different goals. Koll was there to make the U.S. Olympic Team. Nelson was capping off one of the best-ever seasons by an Iowa State track and field student-athlete. It had rained most of the day but even by those standards, the men's 10,000-meters preceding the women's race, was run in an absolute down pour.
Kohl tied her shoes extra tight because of the rain. Nelson watched it pour.
"I heard it first on the roof and then looked out, saw it pouring and thought 'this will be interesting,'" Nelson said.
The rain trickled off when the women toed the line. Four laps into the race, Koll-Uhl's shoe came untied. Right then, her training partner and American recordholder Shalane Flanagan, told Koll-Uhl to stop and tie her shoe. So, in the midst of the biggest race of her life, Koll-Uhl stopped and tied her shoe.
"I was anxious about it," Koll-Uhl said. "Shalane told me she would go to the front and slow down the race while I (tied the shoe). When I started running again I was 60-75 meters behind the leaders."
While Koll-Uhl was making her pit stop, Nelson was moving up in the pack.
"It started out slower than I thought it would so I worked my way up in the field," Nelson said.
Koll-Uhl raced back to the leaders. She was within striking distance when with six laps to go her shoe came untied again.
"Now I was really scared because if it would have come off I would have had to run without it."
Fortunately, it stayed on. Ultimately, Amy Hastings ran to victory in 31:58.36. Koll-Uhl finished fourth in 32:03.46. But because second-place finisher Natosha Rogers of Texas A&M did not reach the Olympic "A" standard of 31:45, Koll-Uhl, who had run such a race this season, moved up to third into a qualifying position. In addition, Flanagan has elected to run the marathon in London, opening up another position.
"This is unbelievable," Koll-Uhl told reporters in the mixed zone. "I never won a state title in high school. I can't even fully process this yet. I never, ever thought I would be an Olympian."
Nelson was taking stock of her season, which ended with her effort of 32:32.45.
"I have had a good season," Nelson said. "I'll go for a run tomorrow and then rest before the cross country season in the fall.
Koll-Uhl looked at it with more irony.
"It was an ugly way to make the Olympic Team," she said.
But if you had talked to either Iowan, Koll-Uhl of Fort Dodge and Nelson of Cedar Rapids last fall, there were no guarantees on what they could accomplish this season. With adversity as a backdrop and despite the rain, Friday ended beautifully.
Women's 10,000-meter run
1. Amy Hastings, Brooks, 31:58.46; 2. Natosha Rogers, Texas A&M, 31:59.21; 3. Shalane Flanagan, Nike Oregon TC Elite; 4. Lisa Koll-Uhl, Nike Oregon TC Elite, 32:03.46; 12. MEAGHAN NELSON, IOWA STATE, 32:32.45.