EUGENE, Ore. – Its a fundamental rule of distance racing: Dont let yourself get boxed in.
It happened to Indiana Universitys Andy Bayer, anyway, during his preliminary heat of the mens 1,500-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Fortunately, the Leo product had enough speed and a clear path on the homestretch, so he was able to advance into todays semifinal at the University of Oregons Hayward Field.
Im frustrated because I felt good and I found myself in a bad position, said Bayer, who finished seventh in his 10-runner heat with a time of 3 minutes, 42.14 seconds.
The top six finishers in each of three heats qualified for the semifinals. But so did the next six fastest finishers.
Bayer was the fifth fastest of those next six, which means he moved on as the 23rd of 24 qualifiers.
It doesnt matter at this point, though. He lives to race again.
The first two laps, I wasnt too worried about being boxed in, because I thought I could fight my way out, Bayer said. I got forced out with about 250 to go, and I ended up in lane four on the homestretch. I dont know, its just, frustrating.
Running in the same heat as former Notre Dame star Daniel Clark – who also advanced – Bayer started from the inside lane and got swallowed up immediately, forcing him to pace along the rail through three laps. When he finally got outside, the recent NCAA champ was too far back to make a run for the front.
Craig Miller, who runs for New Balance, won the heat in 3:41.89.
Bayer said he learned his lesson.
Every prelim here is basically like an NCAA final, said Bayer. I learned. Ill hopefully get better every race.
In the womens 1,500, former Huntington North and Huntington University star Lauren Johnson was unable to compete after a nagging injury forced her to withdraw.
I injured my Achilles (tendon) at the beginning of May, said Johnson, who was set to run in the 1,500, instead of her usual favorite, the steeplechase.
Ive been trying to manage it since then, but (this week), the pain just got to be too much. If I would have raced today, it would have been on no training. I dont think it would have been pretty.
Johnson, who moved to Eugene to train for this meet, said she will get an MRI next week to determine the extent of the damage. Then, its back to the training table.
Im not done, she said. I think I may have overloaded a bit on the long training runs (in May).
Im still learning, I will get better.