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Chris Bendtsen 10k(Jun 28th 2014, 8:39pm)
Nick Vena’s right on schedule.(Jun 27th 2014, 4:27pm)



Higginson 2nd in steeple in PR 9:27

Published by
Armory Track News   Jun 29th 2014, 8:51am

By Jack Pfeifer and Dave Hunter
Photo By Kim Spir 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Ashley Higginson ran away from Stephanie Garcia on the final lap to place 2nd in the women’s steeplechase on a warm Saturday afternoon here at the national championships. Higginson ran 9:27.59, eight seconds ahead of her previous lifetime best, moving to 5th on the all-time U.S. list in the event. The meet concludes on Sunday.

Higginson, a 25-year-old Princeton graduate currently enrolled in Rutgers law school, finished 2nd to Emma Coburn, whose winning time of 9:19.72 broke the Hornet Stadium and meet records. Coburn ran 9:17 earlier this season.

Garcia, who went back and forth several times with Higginson, slipped to 3rd, in 9:32.76.

Higginson’s previous best was 9:35.72, set this spring at Princeton. Her winning time fell just short of the fastest ever run by an Ivy League graduate, 9:22.76 by the Brown grad Anna Willard six years ago.

“With three-and-a-half laps to go, I kind of took off,” Coburn said, “and when I saw my time at the end, I was really surprised. I’m not great in the heat. It shows that I’m in better shape.”


“Hats off to Emma for creating that respect and having us so motivated to just try to clip her heels as long as we can,” Higginson said of Coburn. “She is world-class, so it is really cool to have her in the meet.”


Higginson has begun her summer law internship back home in New Jersey. “I am excited to be able to go to work on Monday and say, ‘I came in 2nd!’ And they are really great – so aware – and they are huge fans,” she said of her new colleagues.

Higginson insisted that she had not been aware of the pace she was running during the race. “No, no, thank God. It (the PR) means a lot. It means the work has been worth it. Last year I made the team, but I could not crack 9:40. In many ways, it was a huge upset.

“I came out of that season unhealthy and not happy. It is nice to recollect that it was a huge build year.”  

Of Garcia, whom she passed for a final time with a lap half to go, Higginson said, “Stephanie is a class act. In a lot of ways, we have had similar journeys. I really admire her.”


Heather Miller, the only Central Park Track Club member who lives in St. Paul, Minn., recorded a big lifetime best in the heptathlon, totaling 6,100 points to finish 4th, one place higher than a year ago, when she scored her previous PR of 5945. On the final day Miller’s performances were 19-6 in the long jump, 131-9 in the javelin and a lifetime-best 2:09.65 800.

Ford Palmer, the 23-year-old novice miler who a year ago was running for Monmouth University in New Jersey and now runs for the New Jersey/New York Track Club, continued his coming-out party with a splendid 5th place in the men’s 1,500, running 3:39.78. The race was won by Leo Manzano, who outkicked Pat Casey in the final 100, running 3:38.63. Liam Boylan-Pett, also NJ/NYTC, was 11th

“As soon as the gun went off, I knew it was going to be slow,” Casey said. “I had all the confidence in the world. I might have made my move a little early and I kind-of ran out of steam in the last 50.

I’m proud of the effort I’ve put in and proud of how far I’ve come over the last year.” Casey, who matriculated at Oklahoma, had not broken 3:40 before this year.

Manzano, who was 2nd a year ago, said, “The overall strategy was to be in the front. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work out…. They gave me a good challenge today. Fortunately I was able to pull away…”

Francena McCorory, who has won many races at the Armory over the years as a prep from Virginia, for Hampton University and as a professional, took the 400 here after a long battle down the homestretch with Sanya Richards-Ross. McCorory ran a lifetime best, 49.48, just ahead of Richards-Ross’s 49.66, her fastest time in several years.

"I ran my lights out today,” McCorory said. “It was also great running against a great field and you know the times will be good. It is more motivation. Starting out strong was my main focus today."


“I thought my race went really well today,” Richards-Ross said. “I got out hard.  I thought I was right there in striking distance.  I felt like I ran my curve better today than yesterday.  I thought I had done enough. 

“But Fran ran a phenomenal race.  She PR’d today to beat me.  Before I came to this meet, I was 51 seconds.  But to leave here at 49.6, I am really pleased.

“Fran has been a great talent.  To see her getting better and better is just going to make all of us better.  I am really happy for her.  She’s had a great season.  But next year,” Richards-Ross warned, “is a different story.”

The New Yorkers Natasha Hastings (50.53) and Phyllis Francis (50.80) were initially listed as 3rd and 4th, but Francis was later disqualified for stepping on the line on the turn. It should be noted that the NCAA rulebook allows runners to step on the line but not over it, while the international rules applicable here do not. 

In the women’s long jump, won by Friday’s 100-meter champion, Tianna Bartoletta, Jessie Gaines, the LIU grad, passed all three of her attempts in the qualifying round.

In the semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles, Jernail Hayes, former Seton Hall runner, advanced to Sunday’s final, finishing 4th in her semi in 56.04.

Amanda Bingson, who throws for the New York Athletic Club, defended her championship in the women’s hammer, throwing 246-3, winning by more than 10 feet. Two other NYAC members also placed in the event, Jeneva McCall 6th at 225-8, Gwen Berry 7th at 225-6.

“My series went better than expected,” said Bingson, who set a stadium record. “I’m pretty happy with it. I’m not quite satisfied because I didn’t hit as far as I wanted to. But overall I’m happy. It’s still fairly early on in the season.”


Sunday’s final day includes the women’s 1,500, whose field includes the New York high school girl Mary Cain, Stephanie Charnigo of the NJ/NYTC, and the Ivy graduates Morgan Uceny (Cornell) and Kate Grace (Yale).

Charnigo ran a lifetime-best 4:09.00 to advance out of Friday’s semifinals, .08 ahead of Cain.

“It actually went pretty smooth,” Charnigo said.  “There weren’t a lot of elbows or kicking or anything.  I was able to execute my plan just as Gags and I had talked about,” she said, referring to her coach, Frank Gagliano. 

Cain, who was 2nd in this meet a year ago as a 17-year-old, said of her semifinal run, “I was a little more comfortable than usual.  Not because of the speed or anything.  But just because I’m training for the long pull.  That’s all that matters.

“I ran 4:09.  That’s not bad.  I was happy with it.  And it was windy.  So it is just nice to advance.  Now that I’m in the final, I don’t care what happens.  I’m in good shape.”

 “We’re peaking for August, so I am not super-duper sharp.  But the other day I did the second-fastest 400 I’ve ever done – 55.9.  And that was after a 1,200.” 

Grace, who finished half a second behind Cain, said, “This is my first attempt at a championship 15.  I look back at the 8s.  I can’t believe there are three heats.  Those girls are beasts.  I am happy there are only two heats of the 15.” 

As to Sunday’s final, he said, “I want to leave it open to anything.  But in the past few years, it has gone out pretty slow.  Especially in the heat, it will be interesting to see if that happens.”

She also commented on the recent Ivy League distance resurgence.  “I am so proud of it.  It is fun following your school.  I feel an allegiance to all of the schools.  It is such a close-knit community there.  I am happy to have people to cheer on.”

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