All the news from Mens and Womens Track.

Obsie Birru-Johnston-Grand View
©Doug Wells-2016

Obsie Making Her Name Known Out East

Obsie Birru-Johnston-Grand View ©Doug Wells

Obsie Birru-Johnston-Grand View
©Doug Wells

NE Distance website is centered in Rhode Island and whose mission is to promote and support post collegiate athletes and runners. Recently NE Distance published a story featuring Obsie Birru-Johnston-Grand View, introducing her to their subscribers.  While Obsie is well known and loved by all of us, those out east will soon fall in love with her as well.  Below is a portion of NE Distance’s article.  For the full article, click here! Feature photo ©Doug Wells -2016


Obsie Birru joined the NE Distance Athlete-in-Residence program in August of 2017. Obsie, a 28 year old Ethiopian-born, American-raised, and self-proclaimed proud Iowa girl, comes to Providence directly from her hometown of Des Moines, IA, where she has been working as a Supporting Teacher in a kindergarten classroom for the last three years. It was while getting her degree in Health Promotions and Wellness Management at Grand View University where Obsie burst onto the running scene. By the time she graduated in 2012, she had become one of the most decorated NAIA athletes in history. During her time at Grand View, she was three-times named the National Runner of the Week, was an astounding eighteen-time All-American, and was a five-time National Champion in the 5,000m, 10,000m and marathon.

Obsie joins NE Distance with a desire to help NE Distance continue to pursue its unique dual mission. With three years of experience working with young children, she is eager to begin coaching at the middle school level. She looks forward to sharing her love of running and knowledge of the sport with both the youth athletes as well as the RI running community as a whole. Athletically, she is excited to train and compete alongside NE Distance’s Women’s Elite Team as she continues to chase down her running dreams.

Allyson Felix
©Jim Kirby

Drake Relay Alums Make Us Proud in London

Omar McLeod- Jamaica ©Jim Kirby

Omar McLeod- Jamaica
©Jim Kirby

With the 2017 IAAF Track & Field World Championships concluding this past weekend in London, the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee had alumni posting many outstanding medal winning performances to garner 10 gold, eight silver and 10 bronze medals during the event.  Individual gold medal winners who competed at the 2017 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee included Kori Carter (400mH), Phyllis Francis (400m), Sam Kendricks (Pole Vault), Omar McLeod (110mH) and Brittney Reese (Long Jump).

Courtesy Drake Relays, click here! Feature photo: Allyson Felix ©Jim Kirby 2013

Overall, the United States set a team record for the most medals at the World Championships with 30 (10-gold, 11-silver, 9-bronze) while three-time Drake Relays champion Brittney Reese became the first woman to win four World long jump gold medals and only the second woman to win four golds in a single event (Valerie Adams, shot put).  Below is a listing of the medalists with their last appearance year at the Relays in parentheses.  Unless noted otherwise, athletes represented the United States.



  • Shelby Houlihan-5K (2017 Bowerman Track Club)
  • Morolake Akinosun – Gold-4x100m Relay (2016-Texas)
  • Kori Carter – Gold-400m Hurdles (2017)
  • Michelle Carter – Bronze-Shot Put (2016)
  • Allyson Felix – Bronze-400m, Gold-4x100m Relay, Gold-4x400m Relay (2006)
  • Phyllis Francis – Gold-400m, Gold-4x400m Relay (2015)
  • Dawn Harper-Nelson – Silver-100m Hurdles (2017)
  • Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas) – Bronze-200m (2013-Georgia)
  • Sandi Morris – Silver-Pole Vault (2017)
  • Dalilah Muhammad – Silver-400m Hurdles (2016)
  • Brittney Reese – Gold-Long Jump (2017)
  • Yarisley Silva (Cuba) – Bronze-Pole Vault (2014)
  • Jenny Simpson – Silver-1500m (2017)
  • Ekaterini Stefanidi (Greece) – Gold-Pole Vault (2016)
  • Ristananna Tracey (Jamaica) – Bronze-400m Hurdles (2015)
  • Ajee Wilson – Bronze-800m (2015)


  • Will Claye – Silver-Triple Jump (2016)
  • Kerron Clement – Bronze-400m Hurdles (2016)
  • Sam Kendricks – Gold-Pole Vault (2017)
  • Renaud Lavillenie (France) – Bronze-Pole Vault (2015)
  • Jarrion Lawson – Silver-Long Jump (2015-Arkansas)
  • Wil London – Silver-4x400m Relay (2016-Baylor)
  • Omar McLeod – Gold-110m Hurdles (2017)
  • Gil Roberts – Silver-4x400m Relay (2015)
  • Mike Rodgers – Silver-4x100m Relay (2007)
  • Jarrin Solomon (Trinidad & Tobago) – Gold 4x400m Relay (2013)
  • Christian Taylor – Gold-Triple Jump (2017)
  • Rabah Yousif (Great Britain) – Bronze-4x400m Relay (2016)
  • Stipe Žunic (Croatia) – Bronze-Shot Put (2012-Florida)
Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Bowerman track Club
©Michael Scott

The World Knows Shelby Now: by Nicole Bush of Citrus Mag


© Michael Scott 2016,

© Michael Scott 2016,

Citrus Mag is a publication dedicated to running.  Early this summer  Citrus Mag’s Nicole Bush posted this story about Shelby Houlihan.  As Shelby has qualified for the 5k final at the World Championships in London (in a personal best time of 15:00), we thought it would be a good time to share a portion Nicole’s story.

For the full story, click here!    Feature photo: Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Bowerman track Club©Michael Scott

Before the 2016 Millrose Games in New York City, Houlihan had only run a handful of 5,000-meter races. She’d run 5,000 meters at conference meets to assist for points toward a team score. She contested it at an NCAA regional and then once more at the national championship “just to run it” because it was her last NCAA meet and the schedule permitted it after her 1,500 meter focus.

But, she had never really chased a fast time in a 5,000 until the 2016 Millrose Games in New York City. Running 25 laps at the Armory’s 200-meter banked track wasn’t the initial intention.

“I actually wanted to do the mile at Millrose and I couldn’t get in,” said Houlihan.

After receiving this news, according to Houlihan, she and coach Jerry Schumacher had a conversation that went something like:

Jerry: Alright, we’ll just stick you in the 5k. I think you could run a good 5k. You’ve been hanging with Emily and Betsy and stuff.

Shelby: Alright (while shrugging).

But Houlihan had never actually run a 5K to really run it.

“So, I was kind of nervous about it–but at the same time, there was no pressure,” Houlihan said.

She went out with her Bowerman Track Club teammates and hung on to the hot pace from the front by Emily Infeld and Betsy Saina. She sustained it for as long as she could before crossing the finish line in 15:06 – nearly 43 seconds faster than anything she had run before.

Houlihan attributes the successful run to the presence of her teammates and a vibe she’s used to, saying, “I mean, I do that everyday in practice.”

After that Millrose performance, according to Houlihan, she and Schumacher had a conversation that went something like:

Jerry: …I think we’re gonna do the 5k this year.

Shelby: *silent nod in confirmation* *probably smiling*

“So that’s kinda how it happened,” said Houlihan.

That is also kind of how the universe shifted for her.

After such a successful run at Millrose, she did not run another 5K until the prelim at the Olympic Trials nearly five months later.

What was that like jumping events, only really running it once–five months–before the Olympic Trials and then toeing the line with so many women with such cachet in the event? Well, she was kind of nervous. But, at the same time, she said, “After Millrose I was pretty mad at myself because I felt like I could run faster.”

At Millrose, she thought she was kind of a “wimp,” that she should have “gone around Abbey (D’Agostino)” and that she should have “hung onto that lead pack.” Instead, she got in her own head and didn’t do any of that.

“So I was really mad at myself about that and I think it was actually better for me not to race it again,” Houlihan says.” Because then I had this fire in me, like, ‘I need to do this again. I know I can do better.’”

She returned to the distance on a stage that she had never been on and in an event she had never run that seriously.

So what, she was a little nervous. But her workouts had been going well and when she saw her teammate in Infeld make the 10,000-meter team, Houlihan said she thought to herself, “Well, she can make the team–I can make the team because, we workout everyday.”

She was also the last athlete of Schumacher’s group to race, as the 5,000 meter final was on the last day of the Trials. And all of her teammates were making the Olympic Team. Houlihan said she thought to herself, “Well I have to make the team now. Because, otherwise it’ll be embarrassing if I don’t. Like, I’ll be the one that doesn’t.”

If you were paying the slightest bit of attention to Houlihan on the track during that 5,000 meter final, it was on her face and in her body language; it didn’t really matter who was on the track or what they had done–it was all irrelevant and it didn’t matter. She was going to do whatever the race required of her–whatever needed to be done, whatever it took–and make the Olympic Team.

It just looked like…

“…we’re going for it,” Houlihan said.

And that was exactly the energy and focus that backed up her thought process going into the race.

This is the plan and we’re executing.

We’re going for it.

“I had actually written on my mirror, like two months out, ‘I will be an Olympian’,” Houlihan said.

But then, like all meaningful and exciting goals do–regardless of size–it started to pervade her thoughts.

I will be an Olympian

“I saw it every single day and I was telling myself it. It kind of made it–so when it actually came around to that time–I was like, ‘Yeah, I can do this. Like–yeah’,” Houlihan said.

It became decidedly true.

She had been telling herself she would be an Olympian everyday for two months and it became more of a matter of fact than a far off dream for four years from now. Combine that conviction with seeing all of her Bowerman teammates make the team–in a way normalizing it–and she had an attitude of:

“I can definitely do this,” Houlihan recalls telling herself.

And so she did it.

She became an Olympian at 23, in an event she had only ever raced with complete seriousness about four times.

With personal bests in the 1,500 and 800 of 4:03.3 and 2:01.1 respectively. Being able to split 54 for a 400 relay leg. Being a NCAA Champion and NCAA runner-up at 1,500-meters; Houlihan’s talent goes without saying, because it should be obvious.

But what elevates this Iowa native to such performances as 11th in the world her first time at the Olympics; her 6th time running the event in earnest?

It could be her love of Harry Potter. Her Patronus is a unicorn–or well, maybe it’s a beagle. She said she took a Patronus quiz and got a beagle but that she was “not happy about it”. Because she doesn’t think that’s what her Patronus is. “It should be–a unicorn,” she said.

Plus, she doesn’t even like dogs, she said. So obviously, it’s a unicorn.

Houlihan’s heightened performance is attributed to her love of the spirit of Harry Potter. But not really.

Houlihan current racing prowess can be attributed to a few things.

Joining Bowerman

According to Houlihan she “was debating on staying in Arizona” and training with her coach, Louie Quintana, at ASU. But he guided her in another direction.

Houlihan said Quintana is close with Schumacher in that they talk once in awhile. Quintana knew that she was debating staying in Tempe and that she loves Arizona.Initially, she really didn’t want to move to Portland, where the Bowerman Track Club is based.

Quintana told her that he would love to have her in Tempe to train with him and the team.  But then they had a conversation that went something like:

Louie: But I mean, if Jerry wants [to coach] you, you should probably go to his group, because, he’s a great coach.

Shelby: Alright, yeah, you’re right. I know what I should do.

So to Portland she a-goed.

The smooth transition

Houlihan will aptly say it herself, that her transition from collegiate to professional went smoothly. Which isn’t the typical experience for post-collegiates. It’s typical for it to be anywhere from a little bit rocky to a lot a bit avalanche. So for athletes and fans everywhere, Houlihan’s transition is remarkable–literally, people remark about it.

Schumacher “has coached a lot of good athletes,” Houlihan said. Which also goes without saying, in the track world. “I immediately just trusted him. Which is what you have to do. You just have to be in and believe that it’s going to work.”

You have got to have faith. Houlihan season ‘15-’16: case in point.

What Houlihan thinks might be the bigger deal for such a seamless adjustment is staying healthy.

“I think staying healthy all four years of college and each year increas[ing] my mileage a little bit–to get stronger and just having those building to training–finally kind of stack up,” she said.

Setting her up pretty perfectly to begin adapting to Schumacher’s workload.

“And,” Houlihan said, “Doing the work.”

Then, the adaptation.

“His workouts were way more intense and I was getting my butt kicked every week. I would get my butt kicked every week and, like, just lay in bed the rest of the day–because I just couldn’t move,” Houlihan said.

This was a change of pace–quite literally– for Houlihan:

“In college I felt like I’d have a couple hard workouts a year that were really hard. So just the improvement in that intensity level, I think, is what really kind of skyrocketed me to the next level.”

Also, some luck. In a such a planned, calculated sport–there’s always room for it.

“Everything came together at the right moments. So, that was also luck,” Houlihan said. “I could have definitely hurt myself trying to keep up with Betsy and Emily but, it ended up being fine.”

Perfectly fine.


“My future’s going to be great,” adds Houlihan.

Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado
©Paul Merca 2017

Jenny Simpson Surprises Herself For Silver at Worlds

Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado ©Paul Merca 2017

Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado
©Paul Merca 2017

Our own Jenny Simpson surprised even herself at the end of the World Championship Women’s 1500m in London on Monday. Below is an excerpt of Deadspin’s Dan McQuade article covering Simpson’s shock at her late race heroics. For the complete story at, click here!

Feature photo: Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado ©Paul Merca 2017

The women’s 1500 meters headlined the fourth day of the IAAF World Championships in track and field, and it was a worthy main event for the London crowd. Great Britain’s Laura Muir led the pack through the first 800 meters at 2:17, at which point the race turned into a sprint.

Sifan Hassan, the bronze medalist in the event two years ago, ran from last place into the lead. But Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, the defending Olympic champion, and American Jenny Simpson were right with her. Meanwhile, Caster Semenya lurked just behind.

The last lap was the best lap of these championships so far. (Jenny Meadows said it was one of the best races she’d ever seen!) Hassan and Kipyegon got a healthy lead on everyone, then both started to break down on the final stretch, and the rest of the pack surged. Kipyegon held on for first place in 4:02.59, Jenny Simpson took second, and Semenya beat out Muir for third.

 But it appeared Simpson didn’t realize she took silver until Laura Weightman pointed it out to her, as you can see above. Then she decided to sprint across the track for a celebration that lasted nearly 30 seconds—after running 1500 meters in just more than four minutes.

Her post-race celebration was made all the better because of what happened when Simpson won the 1500 meters back at the 2011 World Championships; winning on a late kick, she reacted like she had no idea she’d just won the world title.

Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado
©Mike Byrnes

Iowans to Compete at the 2017 World Championships

© Michael Scott 2016,

© Michael Scott 2016,

The 2017 Outdoor Track and Field World Championships begin TODAY in London!

We have 3 Iowans/Iowa connections on Team USA:

Jenny Simpson, Webster City, 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist.  Drake Relayts champion.  Round 1 of 1500M, today August 4.


Hillary Bor, Iowa State, 2016 Olympian. Round 1 of Steeplechase, Sunday, August 6.


Shelby Houlihan, Sioux City, 2016 Olympian. Round 1 of 5K, Thursday, August 10.


Track and Field News event by event predictions, click here!

Team USA Roster, click here!

World Championships time schedule, click here!

Broadcast schedule, click here!


Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU
©Mike Mahon 2016

Your New Destination “Houlihan Run” In Sioux City

© Michael Scott 2016,

© Michael Scott 2016,

The Sioux  City Planning and Zoning Committee recently announced the naming of a stretch of road near East Sioux City High School in honor of Olympian and National Champion, Shelby Houlihan.  Ian Richardson of The Sioux City Journal made the announcement .


Olympic runner Shelby Houlihan could soon have a street named in her honor in her hometown of Sioux City.

Courtesy of The Sioux City Journal and Ian Richardson of The Sioux City Journal, click here! For the complete story, click here! Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU ©Mike Mahon

A proposal on next week’s Planning and Zoning Commission agenda would re-title an existing stretch of Lincoln Way near East High School “Houlihan Run” after the 24-year-old East High alumna, who placed 11th in the 5,000 meters during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games.

Shelby Houlihan mapMayor Bob Scott, who put forth the proposal, said he had heard interest in the community and believed the city’s first female Olympics track runner deserved the recognition.

“I think our community rallied around her, and I think the community will get behind this,” the mayor told the Journal. “You have very few Olympic runners (from Sioux City). … If we have 10 more, we ought to find 10 more streets.”

Houlihan, a track standout at East High and Arizona State University, followed her Olympic performance by winning the 5,000 at the 2017 USA Outdoor track and Field Championships in June, qualifying for the world championships in London later this summer.

Laulauga Tausaga-Iowa
© Darren Miller/

Final Results For Iowans at the USATF

Hannah Truniger-UNI ©Jim Kirby

Hannah Truniger-UNI
©Jim Kirby

The 2017 USATF Junior and Senior Track and Field Championships will be held in Sacramento, California, Thursday June 22 through Sunday June, 25. The state of Iowa will be well represented in both divisions, by former Iowa preps and Iowa collegians.

Feature photo: Laulauga Tausaga-Iowa © Darren Miller/

The Junior meet will serve as qualifying for the Pan Am Junior Championships, to be held in Peru in July. For more info, click here!

The Senior meet will serve as qualifying for the IAAF World Championships to be held in London in August. For more info, click here!

Iowa connections who have both qualified for and declared to participate in Sacramento in the Junior (U-20) division:
Athletes highlighted in BOLD will represent the USA at Pan Am Jr’s, July 21-23 in Lima, Peru.

  • 800M-Joy Ripslinger, Davenport Assumption HS-5th, 2:07.18, Iowa HS All Time Best
  • 1500M-Ryan Schweizer, Dowling Catholic/U of Notre Dame-3rd, 3:49.04
  • 5K-Hannah Truniger, UNI-2nd-17:05.37
  • 5K-McCayla Cole, UNI-3rd-17:23.56
  • 5K-Karson Sommer, Pleasant Valley/U of Iowa-12th-15:19.75
  • 5K-Luke Sampson, U of Iowa-10th-15:09.38
  • 400H-Addie Swanson-Pleasant Valley HS: 9th-1:02.50
  • Steeplechase-Nathan Mylenik, U of Iowa-2nd, 9:15.42
  • Shot Put-Erika Hammond, Clinton/U of Iowa: 20th-42-6 1/2
  • Discus-Sydney Laufenberg, Clinton/Illinois State: 14th/149-7
  • Discus-Laulauga Tausaga, U of Iowa-1st, 177-3
  • Javelin-Katelyn Gochenour, Logan, Iowa/Duke-2nd, 158-10
  • Junior competition schedule, click here!

Iowa connections who have both qualified for and declared to participate in Sacramento in the Senior division:
Athletes highlighted in BOLD will represent the USA, at the World Championships in London, August 4-13.

  • 100M-Brandon Carnes, UNI-23rd-10.23
  • 200M-Brandon Carnes, UNI-13th, 21.17
  • 200M-Brittany Brown, U of Iowa-15th, 23.40
  • 400M-Mar’yea Harris, U of Iowa-19th-45.73
  • 800M-Erik Sowinski, U of Iowa/Nike-4th-1:45.39
  • Brette Correy-Western Dubuque/UNI-25th-2:08.11
  • 1500M-Jenny Simpson, Webster City/New Balance-1st-4:06.33
  • 5K-Shelby Houlihan, SC East/Az State/Nike-1st-15:13.87
  • 5K-Karissa Schweizer-Dowling/U of Missouri-4th-15:18.69
  • 10K-Meghan Armstrong Peyton-U of Iowa/Team USA Minnesota-14th 33:46.69
  • 10K-Biya Simbassa, SC North/Iowa Central/U of Oklahoma-4th-29:03.48
  • 10K-Reed Fischer, Drake-23rd-30:53.50
  • 10K-Kevin Lewis, Ottumwa/U of Iowa/Team USA Minnesota-20th-30:14.01
  • 110 HH- Aaron Mallett, U of Iowa-6th, 13.58
  • Steeplechase-Hillary Bor, Iowa State/US Army-3rd, 8:18.83
  • Steeplechase-Alexina Wilson, Mt. Vernon-Lisbon/UNI/Oiselle-10th-10:00.58
  • Pole Vault-Jeff Coover, UNI Asst. Coach-9th-18 1/2
  • Discus-Reno Tuufuli, U of Iowa-13th-181-8
  • Discus-Brian Williams, Iowa Central/Ole Miss-4th-198-8
  • Shot Put-Christina Hillman, Iowa State-12th-55-3 1/2
  • Hammer Throw-Katelyn Weimerskirch, Dubuque Wahlert/North Dakota State-16th, 198-7
  • Heptathlon-Lindsay Lettow, Des Moines Christian/U of Central Missouri-8th, 5,774
  • Heptathlon-Alex Gochenour, Logan Magnolia/Arkansas-4th, 6,129
  • Decathlon-Kurtis Brondyke, Clinton/Central College-5th-7,746
  • Decathlon-Mat Clark, Ames/UNI/Arkansas Asst. Coach-DNF
  • Decathlon-Derek Jacobus, CR Kennedy/Arkansas-11th-7,255
  • 20K Race Walk-Anthony Peters, St. Ambrose-7th, 1:35:01.82

Senior competition schedule, click here! 

Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Bowerman track Club
©Michael Scott

“There’s No Reason Not to Do it” Sioux City Journal by Steve Allspach

Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Arizona State

Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Arizona State

Something about Our Town.

City Fathers need … ugh, so outdated and inappropriate.

So, City Sisters and Brothers, you need to revisit the prospect of renaming a street near East High School in honor of world-class distance runner Shelby Houlihan long before it considers building a foot bridge across the wide Missouri.

Courtesy Sioux City Journal- Steve Allspach, click here! Feature photo: Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Bowerman track Club ©Michael Scott

Houlihan, who won a gazillion gold medals at the prep and college levels for East High and Arizona State has once again put Sioux City prominently on the athletic mat.

Friday, Houlihan won the United States Track & Field national championship in the outdoor 5,000 meters.

In doing so, the Rio Olympian defeated the American record holders in the both the 5,000 (Shannon Rowbury) and 10,000 (Molly Huddle).

A stirring race in which Houlihan burst away from challengers by taking and lead in the final 120 meters that was called by Iowan Mike Jay, the former Columbus Junction school teacher who is now the premier public address track announcer calling races – in the world.

It was Jay who called Houlihan victories in the Drake Relays and in state high school meets, along with thousands of other young athletes inspired by his calls.

Jay was also thrilled to point out the fourth-place finish of another Iowan, former state champ Karissa Schweizer, the Missouri senior and ex-West Des Moines Dowling prep from Urbandale.

Next stop for Houlihan and possibly Schweizer is the World Championships in London in August.

The Road to London. Hmm. Houlihan Road?

#The polarizing debate of whether or not a shot clock should be used in Iowa high school boys basketball will gather some steam since neighboring Wisconsin will officially adopt a 35-second clock in two seasons, in varsity games only.

The two Dakotas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Washington currently play with a shot clock at the prep level.

A semifinal game of Iowa’s Class 4A state tourney semifinals demonstrates a reason for the Hawkeye State to adopt a shot clock, depending on funds to install a system and finding the volunteer help to assist in the system.

In an overtime semi, West Des Moines Valley held the ball for over four minutes of the extra session then beat Pleasant Valley on a buzzer-beating basket.

#Nashville’s selection of Eeli Tolvanen as the 30th pick in the first round swells the list to five of Sioux City Musketeers selected in the first round of the National Hockey League draft.

In 2000, Rostislav Klesla (Columbus, 4th) and Dave Hale (New Jersey, 22nd) were the franchise’s icebreakers.

Then came Sam Gagner (Edmonton 6th) and Max Pacioretty (Montreal, 22nd) in 2007.

#Unbeaten Floyd Mayweather who has mastered the manly art of self defense in the boxing ring, is going to box, not fight in this case, loquacious mixed martial arts champ Conor McGregor in a grudge match on Aug. 26.

Win and lose each will earn millions and millions of dollars.

Call the whole thing off?

Not on biggest paycheck.

It is or will be an abomination, no question.

But I remember reading about towering cager Manute Bol boxing William “The Refrigerator’’ Perry of the Bears and “Two Ton’ Tony Galento boxing Joe Louis — and a bear, a kangaroo and an octopus.

You’ll have to pay through the nose to see this one, live or on TV.

#Racing fans in Iowa appeared to be teased with the opportunity to watch up close and personal this summer not one, but two winners of the Indianapolis 500, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’’

Saturday, in the NASCAR Xfinity Ethanol E15 250 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Sam Hornish Jr. was one of the favorites to take the former checkers.

Former is used here because the traditional massive checkers painted on the start-finish line of most surfaced tracks, Iowa Speedway has painted a colorful and gigantic ear of Iowa corn.

So apropos. And, in keeping with the landscape (corn fields surrounding the facility).

Before Saturday, Hornish had won twice on the “Fastest Short Track on the Planet’’ in addition to taking the checkers in the 2005 Indy 500.

He was driving for Marlboro Team Penske in 2005 at Indy and is driving for the Penske team in a limited Xfinity run this summer.

Sato, meanwhile, was scheduled to drive in the Verison IndyCar Series in the Iowa Corn 300 in Newton July 9, but may cancel that date.

A non-appearance will not be received well by Iowa racing fans clamoring for a NASCAR Monster Energy Cup race to go along with Indy race.

Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado 
©Jim Kirby 2017

Flotrack: Simpson Wins Fourth Consecutive USATF Title-by Taylor Dutch

Jenny Simpson-Webster City ©Michael Scott

Jenny Simpson-Webster City
©Michael Scott

The Olympic bronze medalist and world champion raced as such on Saturday at the USATF Outdoor Championships. Jenny Simpson won her fourth consecutive national title in the 1500m with a powerful homestretch run to win the race in 4:06.33.

Courtesy FloTrack-Taylor Dutch, click here! Jenny Simpson-Webster City-Colorado  ©Jim Kirby

Simpson was followed by Rio Olympian Kate Grace who closed for second in 4:06.95. And Sara Vaughn executed a stunning come-from-behind effort to claim the third and final spot with a finishing time of 4:07.85, less than a second ahead of fourth-place finisher Lauren Johnson, a 2015 world qualifier at 1500m. The performance marks Vaughn’s first international championship team. Along with being a professional middle distance runner, Vaughn is also a real estate agent and mother of three children.

Simpson, Grace, and Vaughn will represent Team USA in the 1500m at the IAAF World Championships in London.

Eleanor Fulton of Skechers Performance was the early leader before Shannon Osika took over just before halfway. The first year pro and 2016 Michigan alum is coached by Mike McGuire, whose under-the-radar athlete Jamie Phelan stole the show at NCAAs with a surprise win in the 1500m. Could a Wolverine spoil the party again?

The answer would be no, as Simpson passed into first with 500m to go with Grace, Lauren Johnson and Alexa Efraimson in tow. 1500m American record holder Shannon Rowbury, the 5K runner-up last night, tried to go with the lead pack but seemed too fatigued to match the move.

Simpson split 1:00.41 over the final 400m to win her fourth consecutive title unchallenged in 4:06.33.
Grace, an 800m Olympic finalist in Rio, closed in 1:00.84 to take second place in 4:06.95 and Vaughn seemingly came out of nowhere –she was in ninth at the bell– to kick past Johnson, who was now flailing towards the finish line for fourth, and Efraimson, who would take fifth in her best career placement at a U.S. championship.

Nikki Hiltz of Arkansas, who was in 11th place at the bell, would finish as the top collegian in sixth with a lifetime best of 4:10.28. Early leader Osika placed seventh and Rowbury was eighth. Last year’s Olympic Trials fourth placer, Amanda Eccleston, placed ninth.

Vaughn’s third place finish was one of the biggest shocks on Saturday and she said to media after the race that even she couldn’t believe it happened. The 31-year-old threw her arms in the air after she crossed the finish line in disbelief, then immediately asked those around her if she had actually finished third.

The former Colorado Buff had a breakout race two weeks ago at the Music City Distance Carnival, where she lowered her five-year-old lifetime best in the 1500m from 4:08.34 to 4:06.64.

Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU
©Mike Mahon 2016

Let’s Run: Houlihan Outkicks Huddle in USATF 5K Final

Shelby Houlihan -SC East-ASU © Michael Scott 2016,

Shelby Houlihan -SC East-ASU
© Michael Scott 2016,

The women’s 5000 final at the 2017 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships was billed as the battle between the American record holders at 5000 and 10,000 in Shannon Rowbury (14:38.92) and Molly Huddle (30:13.17), but the winner ended up being a woman who ran the 800 final at USAs as recently as three years ago and has a Twitter handle of @shelbo800Shelby Houlihan.

Courtesy Let’s Run, click here! Feature photo: Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU ©Mike Mahon

Houlihan blew by Molly Huddle with 100 meters to go and Shannon Rowbury couldn’t catch her as Houlihan won in 15:13.87 thanks to a 61.63 last lap. Rowbury ended up second in 15:14.09 and Huddle third in 14:15.29.

The NCAA’s indoor and outdoor champ at 5000 this year, Karissa Schweizer, passed 2016 Olympian at 10,000 Marielle Hall, to finish fourth in a PR of 15:18.69 to Hall’s 15:19.56.

The Race

Huddle leads with 200 to go

Natosha Rogers, who was doubling back from a fifth-place finish last night in the 10,000, did most of the leading early on as the first 1600 was hit in 5:01 and 3200 was hit in 10:00. When there were four laps to go (10:37:44 for Rogers), 14 of the 21 starters were still in the lead pack and Huddle decided it was time to start racing as she took the lead and started to squeeze things down. Her next three laps were 72.65, 71.56 and 70.15. While those laps separated the contenders from the pretenders, there were still six women within one second of the lead at the bell in this one which was going to come down to the last lap.

On the final lap, it soon became a four-person race as Schweizer and Lauren Paquette (sixth in 15:25:06) were dropped. With 200 to go, Hall was dropped but Huddle, Houlihan and Rowbury were very tightly bunched. As the came off the final turn, Huddle still led with Houlihan just behind her on the outside of lane one with Rowbury directly behind Huddle, still tucked in in lane 1. Once on the homestretch, Houlihan hit the jets and quickly accelerated into the lead. Rowbury was slightly gapped as she had to swing wide around Huddle to give chase. Over the final 50, Rowbury gained ever so slightly on Houlihan but Houlihan got the win thanks to a 29.7 final 200.

Results and analysis below.

Houlihan wins it

1 Shelby Houlihan Nike / Bowerman TC 15:13.87
2 Shannon Rowbury Nike Oregon Project 15:14.08
3 Molly Huddle Saucony 15:15.29
4 Karissa Schweizer Missouri 15:18.69
5 Marielle Hall Nike 15:19.56
6 Lauren Paquette Brooks 15:25.06
7 Vanessa Fraser Stanford 15:25.48
8 Sarah Pagano BAA 15:26.04
9 Nicole Tully HOKA NJNYTC 15:27.14
10 Sara Sutherland Saucony 15:29.98
11 Natosha Rogers New Balance 15:31.46
12 Jessica Tonn Brooks 15:32.34
13 Kim Conley New Balance 15:36.82
14 Samantha Nadel Oregon 15:37.69
15 Alycia Cridebring rabbit / SRA Elite 15:47.40
16 Katherine Receveur Indiana 15:51.14
17 Samantha Silva Nike / Bowerman TC 15:55.07
18 Allie Buchalski Furman 16:09.92
19 Cally Macumber Hansons-Brooks Dist. Proj. 16:11.52
20 Rochelle Kanuho HOKA ONE ONE NAZ Elite 16:16.26
21 Erika Kemp North Carolina St. 16:19.45
DNS Emily Sisson New Balance
DNS Emily Infeld Nike / Bowerman TC
DNS Elaina Balouris BAA

QT: Houlihan gets her first USA Outdoor title

Today’s win was the first USA Outdoor title for Houlihan, who won the mile and 2-mile indoors this year. In the span of less than four months, she’s won titles at 1, 2, and now 3.1 miles. While Houlihan did make the Olympics at 5000 last year, today’s win has to be viewed as a bit of a surprise. Houlihan had only raced twice outdoors this year – both 1500s – but at the Pre Classic she was well behind Rowbury (4:06.41 to 4:04.61). Perhaps if Rowbury, who is doing the 1500/5000 double at USAs, didn’t have the 1500 heat in her legs from yesterday it would have been a different story, but Houlihan, just 24, is going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Houlihan now has accomplished something Rowbury never has in her illustrious career – win a national title at 5000.

Houlihan is establishing herself as one of America’s best distance runners. Crazy to think the last time she raced in Sacramento, three years ago, she ran the 800 at USATFs making the final while a junior in college at Arizona State running 2:01.12 for 7th. Not that a good 5000m runner can’t run a good 800 — after all, Rowbury who ran 1:59.97 last year, has a better 800m PR than Houlihan. But Houlihan’s Twitter handle is @shelbo800. It’s rare for someone who thinks of themselves as an 800 runner to become a 5000m runner.

QT: Molly Huddle Will Double at Worlds

Huddle said today she didn’t have the zip she’d like to have in her legs and that she started feeling worse in terms of recovery from last night’s 10,000m as the day went on due to delayed onset muscle soreness. Nonetheless, she knew her best shot to win and make the team was to push the pace.  However, when she didn’t get any separation on the final lap, she shifted her goal to making the 5,000m team.

This is Huddle’s last year on the track before she shifts her focus to the marathon and she’s trying to enjoy it. She’ll do the 10,000m/5000m double at Worlds for the first time. Her primary event, the 10,000m is first.

QT: Shannon Rowbury admitted that she felt the 1500 in her legs a bit, but said that was no excuse and was still happy to make the team

Rowbury admitted that she felt the effects of yesterday’s 1500 prelims in her legs tonight, and that it will be tough to come back on short rest for tomorrow’s 1500 final (the events are separated by less than 18 hours). But at the very least, Rowbury will be running the 5,000 in London as she continued her streak of making every U.S. team since her first professional season in 2008 — eight in total.

QT: Karissa Schweizer was incredible this year but has no plans to go pro

Schweizer showed tonight that she’s ready to compete with the very best in the USA, but the reigning NCAA XC champ said she has no plans to leave Missouri as she loves it there. Schweizer, a junior, definitely figures to make a U.S. team in the future, perhaps as soon as 2019 once Huddle is out of the event. Making it tonight would have been incredible, but Schweizer ran about as well as anyone could have expected, clocking a PR in less-than-ideal conditions, and has earned a nice break after a specatuclar junior year that brought NCAA titles in XC, indoor and outdoor track.