All the news from Mens and Womens Track.

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

Quotes From Iowa’s Newest Olympian by Mike Mahon

Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU ©Mike Mahon

Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU
©Mike Mahon

Sioux City, Iowa native Shelby Houlihan ran a personal best 15:06.14 to place second. Her previous PR was 15:02.22 at the indoor Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden Feb. 20.

Feature Photo: Shelby Houlihan -SC East-ASU
© Michael Scott 2016, 

This was just her third 5000 race of the season — 2nd outdoor 5000 with both occurring within span of five days at Trials .

She was among top four leaders the entire race, moving from fourth to third at 3000-meter mark…moved from third to second in last 400, running 63.89 final 400. Ran 2:15.08 for final 800.

Women’s 5000m, final

Molly Huddle, first place, 15:05.01
“I just knew I had to make it hurt for the last 1000m, and as long as I could run 70s and under for the last K, that would hurt to take the kick out of a lot of those girls.”

On dropping the 5000m:
“I’m like ninety-nine percent sure. I’ll think about it one more day, but I’m almost positive I won’t be running it.”

Shelby Houlihan, second place, 15:06.14
“Going into the race I said ‘let’s go, I’m going to stick on Emily like I do everyday’, I moved into second on the last lap and I wasn’t going to give that up. It didn’t matter, if I had to run a 29 second last 200m I would have. I’m really glad I was able to stick it out and get second. This is really cool.”

“I started running when I was five years old and ever since I’ve wanted to be an Olympian and when I crossed that line and it happened I was overcome with emotion.

Kim Conley, third place, 15:10.62
“Even though I knew Molly (Huddle) was probably going to drop the 5,000 for Rio, I wanted to get in the top three. My heart was set this year on the 10k, but I felt like I turned the page really well.” (Conley dropped out of the 10,000 final with four laps remaining after having to put her shoe back on early in the race.)

Comparing today’s race to her photo-finish third in 2012:
“It was nothing like ‘12, but I think I leaned a little at the line, just to be sure.”

Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU
©Mike Mahon 2016

Shelby Houlihan Olympian: Sioux City Journal by Jeff Budlong

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

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

The former Sioux City East High standout finished second in the 5,000 meters at the Track and Field Olympic Trials here Sunday to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Courtesy JEFF BUDLONG, Click Here! Feature photo: Sehlby Houlihan-©Mike Mahon

Houlihan finished in 15:06.14, establishing a new personal record in the process. She pulled away from the field in the last lap and was closing in on leader Molly Huddle in the home stretch. Huddle won the race in 15:05.01.

“I started running when I was 5 years old and ever since I’ve wanted to be an Olympian, and when I crossed that line and it happened I was overcome with emotion,” Houlihan said.

Houlihan becomes the first female track runner from Sioux City to reach the Olympics. She joins F. Morgan Taylor, a Central graduate, as the only Sioux Cityan to make the Olympic team as he did it three times winning gold in the 400 hurdles in the 1932 Olympics in Paris. He also won a pair of bronze medals.

Kim Conley took third place in 15:10.62, but who will end up representing the U.S. in Rio is in question. Huddle also qualified in the 10,000 and may drop the 5,000.

Houlihan was in the top four throughout the race and for the second time at the trials showed her impressive closing kick.

“Going into the race I said ‘let’s go, I’m going to stick on Emily (Infeld) like I do everyday,’” Houlihan said. “I moved into second on the last lap and I wasn’t going to give that up. It didn’t matter, if I had to run a 29-second last 200 I would have. I’m really glad I was able to stick it out and get second. This is really cool.”

Houlihan comes from a family of accomplished runners as her uncle Bob Prince was the 880-yard NCAA champion at Kansas State and the state champion in the same event in 1973 at East. Her mother, Connie (Prince) Houlihan, and her late uncle, Bill, also enjoyed success racing.

“I always thought that girl was something special,” Bob said. “I wasn’t sure this would be her Olympics but she obviously did a good job preparing.”

The former East standout finished with the third best time of 15:26.91 in the prelims Thursday to reach the finals.

Houlihan was a 12-time All-American at Arizona State and was the NCAA champion in the 1,500 meters in 2014 before finishing as the runner-up in 2015.

The East graduate won eight state track crowns, eight Drake Relays titles and one state cross country championship.

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

Houlihan Advances to 5k Finals in the Olympic Trials

Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU ©Sun Devils Athletics

Shelby Houlihan-SC East-ASU
©Sun Devils Athletics

There were definite highs and lows for native Iowans and Iowa connections on Day 7 of the 2016 Olympic Track and Field Trials, being held in Eugene, Oregon.

Feature Photo: Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Bowerman track Club
©Michael Scott

Let’s start this wrap up of Thursday’s competition with the “highs”.

Shelby Houlihan qualified to the Trials in both the 1500 and 5K.  Since qualifying rounds for both events took place on Thursday, the former Sioux East state champion had to make a decision.   Prelims in the 5K were first for her and the NCAA 1500M champ from Arizona State was able to race, somewhat conservatively, and advance to Sunday’s final with the third fastest time of 15:26.91.  Although Houlihan is looked upon as more of an 800/1500 runner, the 5K is also an event she excels at, not just as often.  She ran 15:06.22 at the Millrose Games in February, a time that placed her at #5 5 All Time on the US Indoor list.  Houlihan scratched herself from the 1500M field.

Former Drake University SID, Mike Mahon, is working at the Olympic Trials for USATF and was able to talk to Houlihan after her race for Next Level Iowa.

“It felt really good and easier than I expected,” she said. “It is great to be going to the final and it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.”

“I hope I feel as good in the finals as I did today and hopefully make the team. I believe I can do it,” she said. “There are no words because I have been wanting to run in the Olympics since I was 5 years old.”

The 5K final will be run Sunday night at 6:28 PM Iowa time.

In the 100M hurdles, Alex Gochenour, Logan Magnolia/Arkansas ran 13.38 and did not advance.  She now turns her attention and energy to her specialty, the Heptathlon which will be contested Saturday and Sunday.

University of Iowa NCAA qualifier, Montayla Holder ran 57.77 in the women’s 400M hurdles, but did not advance.

Drake University assistant track and field coach, LaRon Bennett, ran 51.27 in his heat of the 400M, but the former Georgia All American did not advance.

The rain began to fall, quite heavily during the men’s discus competition and a number of competitors struggled with the wet ring.  One of those having issues with the wet surface was former Newton prep and Kentucky All American, Chase Madison.  Madison had 2 fouls and a throw of 171-6 in the prelims and did not advance to the final.

Iowa State All American shot putter Christina Hillman had some very good throws in the qualifying round, Thursday afternoon.  Her best throw of 17.69M/58’ ½” an outdoor seasons best and her best outdoor throw since 2014, qualified her to Thursday night’s 12 person final.   The rain was falling hard during the shot put final and Hillman struggled with the wet ring conditions.  She had a best throw of 56-4 in the final, and wound up with a still impressive 9th place finish.

In the Women’s 1500M preliminary round, Webster City/Ames native Jenny Simpson cruised on to Friday’s semis with a time of 4:17.31.  The 2011 World Champion is working toward her making her third US Olympic team.

In the Men’s 1500M, UNI MVC champ and All American, Dorian Ulrey advanced to Friday’s semi’s with his time of 3:50.80.   Ulrey was a NCAA champion at Arkansas under former UNI head Coach Chris Bucknam.

Today, Friday July 7, 2016

Men’s 110 high hurdles: University of Iowa B10 champ and All American Aaron Mallett will be in Heat 3, Lane 4.

Women’s 200M prelims: University of Iowa B10 400M champion, Elexis Guster will be in Heat 1, lane 8.  Her teammate Lake Kwaza will be in Heat 2, Lane 8.

Men’s 1500M Semi Finals: Dorian Ulrey will be in heat 2.  Top 12 overall to Sunday’s final.

Women’s 1500M Semi Finals: Jenny Simpson will be heat 1.  Top 12 overall to Sunday’s final.

The Men’s steeplechase final is tonight, with 2 Iowa connections in the field:  Stanley Kebenei was an All American at Iowa Central in Ft. Dodge and at Arkansas.  Hillary Bor earned All American honors at Iowa State.

Olympic Trials schedule and live results, Click Here!  

Television and Live Stream schedule, Click Here!


A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside
©Jim Kirby

A.G. Kruger, One of Iowa’s Best, Comes Up Short at Trials

A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside ©Michael Scott

A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside
©Michael Scott

South Dakota throw coach A.G. Kruger finished fourth in the hammer throw at the United States Olympic Trials at Hayward Field on Wednesday evening.


Courtesy University of S. Dakota Athletics, Britni Waller, USD Sports Information, Click Here!

Kruger sent the hammer 240 feet, 6 inches, on his second throw of the competition. His throw remained in the top three headed into the finals.

Cornell junior Rudy Winkler launched a throw of 251-10 on his fourth attempt to bump Kruger to fourth in the standings.

“I am probably done with my career,” Kruger said after the competition ended. “I thank God for giving me the chance to do this for all of these years. It has been an amazing ride. There are a lot of emotions right now, but at some point it comes to an end.”

Winkler, Kibwe Johnson and Conor McCullough took home the top three spots at the Trials. Johnson threw 246-5 on his third throw and McCullough posted a 243-4 on his first attempt. McCullough’s throw was the best third place mark at the U.S. Olympic Trials since 1992.

Kruger retires as a three-time Olympian, five-time World Championship qualifier and 15-time U.S. National Championship qualifier.

“Hopefully it’s not the end of A.G. Kruger,” Johnson said. “If it was, I would have given him a big old hug. We go back further than most of these guys throwing the hammer. It’s kind of bittersweet the way it ended tonight. I would have liked for him to make the team going out. He definitely put it all into it today. I am sure moving on, hopefully he will reconcile that and he will be at peace with that.”

“A.G. is a fantastic human being and a great coach,” Lance Deal said of Kruger. “It’s always hard for me to see an athlete at this stage of his life because I still remember what it’s like. A great friend and mentor once said to me ‘Athletes and dancers die two deaths.’ Every time I see that I get a little chocked up.”

Deal, the 1996 Olympic silver medalist in the hammer throw and American record holder, designed and built the hammer cage that was used for this year’s Olympic Trials. The hammer throw was contested inside Hayward Field for the first time in history.


More A.G. Kruger quotes…

Sheldon, Iowa native AG Kruger was very emotional in mixed zone area following the men’s hammer throw where he finished fourth. He talked to reporters handling questions with class and dignity
“I’m probably done with my career. Thank God for giving me the chance to do this for all these years. It’s been an amazing ride. There are a lot of emotions right now, but at some point it comes to an end.”
Here is quote from Lance Deal, silver medalist in men’s hammer throw at 1996 Olympics on career of AG Kruger:
“AG is a fantastic human being and a great coach. It’s always hard for me to see an athlete in that stage of his life because I still remember what it’s like. A great friend and mentor of mine said to me once ‘Athletes and dancers die two deaths’. Every time I see that I get a little choked up.”

At 34 years old Kibwe Johnson, was the second oldest competitor in the men’s hammer throw at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Johnson finished second Wednesday in the Olympic Trials finals. He was a teammate of Kruger on several U.S. national teams.

“Hopefully it’s not the end of A.G Kruger. If it was, I would have given him a big old hug. We go back further than most of these guys throwing the hammer. So it’s kind of bittersweet the way it ended tonight. I would have liked for him to have made the team going out. He definitely probably put it all into it today. I’m sure moving on, hopefully he will reconcile that and he will be at peace with that”


Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake 
©Doug Wells

Austin Leads Iowans at the Fifth Season 8K

Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake ©Doug Wells

Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake
©Doug Wells

Iowans come up big at The Fifth Season 8K in Cedar Rapids this past holiday weekend.  Congratulations to Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake who was the overall winner.  Here is the link to the Cedar Rapids Gazette story about the race, Click Here!.

Overall results, Click Here! 

Feature photo: Brogan Austin-Boone-Austin ©Doug Wells

Iowa’s Kruger Eyes 4th USA Olympic Team

A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside ©Michael Scott

A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside
©Michael Scott

Three-time Olympian and USD throw coach A.G. Kruger launched the hammer 246 feet at an Olympic Trials qualifying meet held at the Lillibridge Track Complex.

Courtesy U. of S. Dakota Athletics, Click Here! Feature photo: A.G. Kruger ©Michael Scott

The meet, organized by Kruger, was designed to help Olympic hopefuls post qualifying marks ahead of the U.S. Olympic Trials held July 1-10 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Four of Kruger’s six throws were beyond 240 feet. Kruger was a foot shy of his season best, 247-1, that was set last week in Ashland, Ohio. He currently ranks third in the U.S. behind Kibwe Johnson and Conor McCullough. Kruger holds a personal best of 260-0, or 79.26 meters.

In addition to making three Olympic teams, Kruger has competed on five World Championship teams and qualified for 15 U.S. National Championships.

A native of Sheldon, Iowa, Kruger graduated from Morningside College in 2001.

Omar McLeod- Jamaica
©Jim Kirby 2017

Neither Rain Nor Cold…McLeod Leads World at Drake

Omar McLeod- Jamaica ©Jim Kirby

Omar McLeod- Jamaica
©Jim Kirby

The Drake Relays Road to Rio ended on Saturday in rainy and cold weather.

It was in those conditions that Omar McLeod of Jamaica clocked a World leading 13.08 (-0.1) in the men’s 110m hurdles.

Courtesy Track Alerts, Click Here!

Last weekend, he went sub 10 (9.99) in the 100m and things look good for a sub-13 seconds clocking in Shanghai, the second stop in the IAAF Diamond League on May 14th.

American, David Oliver was second in 13.31 and Jamaican, Hansle Parchment, third in 13.42, while World record holder, Aries Merritt, ended fifth in 13.61.

In a competitive women’s hurdles, 12.56 was the fastest time of the day by World leader American, Kendra Harrison, over compatriots, Kristi Castlin, 12.62 and Brianna Rollins, 12.65, Nia Ali, 12.77 and Jasmin Stowers, 12.81.

Levern Spencer of St. Lucia cleared 1.95m in high jump to beat World Indoor champion Vashti Cunningham, who was fourth, 1.85m.

Kaliese Spencer finished fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles in 56.39 (her slowest time since 2010). Briton Meghan Beesley clocked 55.43 to win the event

drake relays 2014 fri  sp w1500m 0051

Iowa’s Jenny Simpson Headlines Outstanding 1500m Field For Drake

Jenny Simpson-Colorado-Professional Athlete ©Jim Kirby

Jenny Simpson-Colorado-Professional Athlete
©Jim Kirby

The Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee will feature some of the top American women’s 1,500-meter runners in the Rio Olympic Games Preview field.

©Drake Relays Click Here!

The lineup is highlighted by eight runners who posted times that ranked in the top 20 in the U.S. in 2015 including Olympians Jenny Simpson and Morgan Uceny. Joining those veteran runners are the likes of the former World Junior Champion in the 3,000 meters, Mary Cain, and Brenda Martinez.

Mary Cain ©Jim Kirby

Mary Cain
©Jim Kirby

Both Cain and Martinez make their return to the Blue Oval after Martinez competed in the 800 meters last season while Cain made her Drake Relays debut in 2013. Martinez recently finished fifth in the event at the World Indoor Championships, while fellow Rio Olympic Games Preview competitor Violah Lagat was eighth.

Heather Kampf, a Grand Blue Mile champion, is also in the field that is bolstered by the return of four-time USA Outdoor Champion Treniere Moser.

Also racing for the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee prize purse will be Melissa Salerno, Heidi See, Rachel Schneider and Gabrielle Grunewald.

The Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee Rio Olympic Games Preview is scheduled for Friday, April 29 as part of Hy-Vee Night at the Drake Relays beginning at 7:52 p.m.

Single-session tickets for the 2016 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee are now on sale as are all-session and multi-session tickets. To secure your seats at Drake Stadium, visit, or call the Drake Athletic Ticket Office at 515-271-3647.

Erik Sowinski-Iowa
©Michael Scott

Sowinski On Top Of the World

Erik Sowinski-Iowa ©Jim Kirby

Erik Sowinski-Iowa
©Jim Kirby

Former University of Iowa All-American Erik Sowinski earned a bronze medal Saturday night in the 800 meters at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon.

Courtesy Hawkeye Athletics: Click Here!  Feature photo ©Michael Scott 

Sowinski entered the field with an at-large invitation and finished the 800 meters in 1:47.22 at the Oregon Convention Center, placing third behind Antoine Gakeme (1:46.65) and world champion Boris Berian (1:45.83).

“I was stuck in the back a little bit but Boris got the crowd going so it’s a testament to how he raced and he really set that up to be a heck of a race,” Sowinski said. “I just wanted to keep my nose in there. It was a little pushy throughout the entire thing and I just wanted to stay in contention and be able to make a move with 150 to go. Fortunately I had enough there to hold on for a medal.”

Sowinski competed at Iowa from 2009-12. He was a seven-time All-American and two-time Big Ten champion. He owns or shares seven school records, and was named an Academic All-American in 2012.

He previously represented Team USA at the 2014 World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, and the 2015 World Outdoor Championships in Beijing, China.

“It’s just a testament to hard work,” Sowinski said. “Seeing where Boris came from is inspiring to me. Me coming out of college I didn’t have a sponsorship and was working 40-hours-a-week at a running store and it ended up paying off for me. So being able to see guys like Boris do that will hopefully inspire other guys to do the same thing. You don’t need a five-star lifestyle to be competitive in this sport. Trust in your training and stay positive and anything can happen. Boris is a huge testament to that — props to him today.”

Diane Nukuri-Iowa
©Boston Herald

Adopted Iowan, Diane Nukuri One of England’s Best

Layne Anderson and Diane Nikuri ©Jim Kirby

Layne Anderson and Diane Nikuri
©Jim Kirby

At the 79th Manchester Road Race in New England’s most prestigious Thanksgiving Day race, defending women’s champion Diane Nukuri of Burundi prevailed once again in convincing fashion. Some 12,000 runners competed on a seasonally mild and sunny day.


Nukuri, who finish eighth in last month’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon, may have come into today’s race with more tired legs than her competitors, but with far more experience. Today marked the sixth appearance here for the 30-year-old athlete after first running the race back in 2008. She had finished on the podium three times before, and considers Manchester something of a second home.
“I love it here. I might move here,” quipped Nukuri, who lives in Flagstaff, Az., after the race.
After the flat opening mile, the race moves steeply uphill on Highland Street for more than a mile. Organizers placed a stripe in the road just ahead of the two-mile mark, and the first male and female athletes to hit that mark collect an extra $1000. That’s where Nukuri felt her first big challenge. Former Boise State star Emma Bates spurted ahead of Nukuri and Canadian 10,000m record holder Natasha Wodak to pick up the “Queen of the Hill” prime. Seeds of doubt crept into Nukuri’s mind.
“I don’t know what her name is, the girl who got the uphill challenge,” Nukuri said of Bates. “She was strong, and I felt like the girls who were right behind me were still right there. And you know, when you get on top of the hill together, anything can happen.”
But Nukuri knew the big downhill in the third mile was just ahead after the race turned left onto Porter Street. She hadn’t redlined her heart on the climb, and was ready to take full advantage of the downhill. Experience pays.
“That’s what I did last year, exactly the same strategy,” Nukuri said of attacking on the downhill. “I just tried to finish that last two miles. I was thinking, if I could run 5 minutes (per mile) or under maybe they can match it, but that’s pretty fast.”
They couldn’t. Nukuri came to the uphill finish on Main Street with a comfortable margin on both Wodak and Bates. Nukuri was timed in 24:25, her fastest time ever here in six attempts.
“I love it here,” Nukuri said again. “This is one of my favorite races.”
Wodak clinched second in 24:32 and Bates got third in 24:44. Maddie Van Beek (25:04) and Hannah Davidson (25:08) rounded out the top-5 finishers.