Ashley Higginson was so close in 2012. She finished a spot away from making the Olympic team for the U.S. in the steeplechase. And for a moment, Princeton graduate might have remembered what that felt like.
But today in Des Moines turned out different. “There was a point in this race I was fourth and I guess I’m really blessed for having had the experience of what that feels like,” she said.
In fact, with two laps left, Higginson was sitting in fourth with Dartmouth grad Alexi Pappas right behind, but by the bell lap she’d climbed into second behind eventual winner Nicole Bush as favorite Bridget Franek faded away in the Des Moines heat.
Higginson crossed the line second in 9:46.25 while Pappas was eighth, more than 20 seconds behind.
Now Higginson has her spot for Moscow, but needs to hit the ‘A’ standard of 9:43. She hopes to do so at a Diamond League meet in Europe in the coming weeks, hopefully getting organizers to let her run in Lausanne or Monaco.
Pappas, like many others, slowed considerably on the final lap. “It could have gone worse,” she said. “It could have gone better.”
Next up for her is the Harry Jerome meet in Canada, where she intends to reveal her future plans. We suspect that could entail clues from her uniform, which has been amusing at times.
The Heps Nation also had its third U.S. Junior champion in three days as Harvard sophomore-to-be Autumne Franklin held off Harvard freshman-to-be Jade Miller for the 400-meter title. Franklin’s 57.10 and Miller’s 57.21 would be second and third all-time behind former NCAA champion and Olympian Brenda Taylor, but HepsTrack is working to include only marks that were run during the college competition season.
Regardless, it appears both are on their way to low times in the near future. “I’ve been working for 57 all season,” said Franklin from the awards stand. “Who knew it would be so close to 56?”
Miller had roomed with Franklin on her recruiting trip to Cambridge and now the two will be fighting it out for League supremacy.
In a remarkable race that has been playing out all season, high school junior Mary Cain kicked a 57-second final lap to take second and qualify for Moscow in the 1,500-meter run. But Cornell grad and Olympic finalist Morgan Uceny could not book a return ticket to the World Champs, finishing eighth.
The two-time defending national champion could find the right gear to contend. She’d missed training time after injuring her back at the Olympics, moved to England over the winter and missed more time in May with illness. Expect to see her times improve on the European circuit this summer.