No Silver Celebration
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Team Russia sent a stadium full of its fans into euphoria.
But Team USA — Jessica Beard, Natasha Hastings, Ashley Spencer and Francena McCorory — felt as if they'd been sent off to Siberia.
The Americans were in no mood to celebrate.
Sure they'll be coming home from the 14th World Championships of Track & Field with silver medals, after running second to Russia in the women's 4x400 relay final Saturday at Luzhniki Stadium, but that was the last thing they had in mind.
It wasn't the result they had in mind.
Clearly, by their demeanor — they plopped themselves down on the track when it was over, stayed there for long moments, had no desire to wrap themselves in the Stars & Stripes, no wish to take happy-faced jaunts around the big stadium's rim — they felt they'd not won the silvers but lost the golds.
It seemed their race to win — as American teams had done at the last three Worlds, at Osaka in 2007, at Berlin in 2009, at Daegu in 2011, as well as last five Oympic Games, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, until all those golden dreams came crashing apart.
Inspired Russia won it in 3:20.19 over stunned USA's 3:20.41 and Great Britain's 3:22.61, with France (3:24.21) , Ukraine (3:27.38), Nigeria (3:27.57) and Romania (3:28.40). One of the bronze medalist for Britain was Shana Cox, who prepped at Holy Trinity High on Long Island.
This one was drama-packed.
Texas A&Mer Beard got Team USA off to a good start and passed off to Hastings, the Brooklyn product and A.P. Randolph High and University of South Carolina graduate, with a six-meter advantage. But here's where Team Russia rallied — Tatyana Firova pulling even with Hastings.
It was still even at the next handoff, and that's where the Americans began running into the big problems. The 20-year-old Spencer, an Illinois sophomore (transferring to the University of Texas) and team rookie, took a narrow lead on Kseniya Ryzhova down the homestretch of her lap but instead of maintaining her path, edged into lane one.
So when Ryzhova pulled back even there was exchange-zone trouble just ahead.
Ryzhova was able to get her baton cleanly to Antonina Krivoshapka, but Spencer couldn't do the same with American anchor McCorory.
Precious momentum was lost in the confusion of it all. McCorory gave valiant chase and simply couldn't regain the lost ground.
Wappingers Fallsite Brigetta Barrett, now the Olympic silver medalist and NCAA high jump champion for Arizona, claimed silver at Luzhniki.
She went up and over her opening height of 1.89 meters (6-2 1/4) easily, then soared 1.93 (6-4), 1.97 (6-5 1/2), and 2 meters even (6-6 3/4) to hold the lead as the bar went to 2.03 (6-8).
Barrett failed to clear but Russian Svetlana Shkolina made her first attempt, giving Shkolina the gold and Barrett the silver.
With everything riding on her final attempt, she lost control, couldn't get off the ground, and touched the landing pit for the foul that meant her day was over.
Said Barrett, who tied the best height ever cleared by an American at the Worlds, “it went well, clean through two meters. You take the good with the bad. I'm really honored to be able to do so well. Two silver medals (Olympics and Worlds) in the course of 12 months, it's been one heck of a year.
"I can come away with the fact that my dream was to bring American females back to the scene and express that we can dominate and that we can win, so I feel honored to carry that torch again and help to start that legacy, because America is great in the fields."
Molly Huddle is a Notre Damer all the way — a graduate of Notre Dame High School (Elmira, N.Y.) and the University of Notre Dame.
And, apart from East Africa, the 28-year-old who now lives and trains in Providence, R.I., has proven herself the best woman 5,000-meter runner on the rest of the planet.
Ethiopians Meseret Defar (14:50:19), Almaz Ayana (14:51.33) and Buze Diriba (15:05.38) took the 1-3-5 places, and Kenyans Mercy Cherong (14:51.22) and Viola Jelegat Kibiwot (15:01.67) placed 2-4.
On their heels was Huddle, sixth in 15:05.23 and right behind Molly in seventh was teammate Shannon Rowbury at 15:06.10.
Huddle's was the highest placing ever by an American 5,000-meter woman at the Worlds but not the best time — Villanova grad Jen Rhines had run 15:03.09 running seventh at Osaka in 2007.
"This was one of the hardest efforts I've had in a long time," Huddle said. "I anticipate (pace changes) every time in a championship, but when you get in there it feels so hard. I'm usually stuck in no-man’s-land, so it was good to have Shannon to kind of bridge the gap, and that was a big difference for me this year having someone to key off of.
Jeff Eggleston, formerly of Greece — Greece, N.Y. that is — led the American trio of entries in the Worlds marathon.
The former University of Virginia distanceman who now lives and trains in Flagstaff, Ariz., completed the 26-mile, 385-yard grind through the Russian capital in 2:14.23, placing 13th.
Eggleston's next big goal — the ING NYC Marathon on Nov. 2.
"Yeah, I’m very happy," he said. "The goal was top 15, top 20. I had a 2:12 PR, so maybe I’m a top-30 seed based on time, but if I just run a smart race and just move myself up, we thought top-15 would be a great performance.”
And 13th was even better.