Donn Cabral dismissed his mother’s pre-race advice at the USATF Nationals, which called for him to beware being boxed in by the three runners from Bowerman Track Club. “Mom, they are ethical guys,” he reassured her.
But late in the race, Cabral noticed that he was surrounded by a sea of Bowerman red — Evan Jager, Dan Huling and Andrew Bayer. “I was really upset because suddenly my mom knows more about track than I do,” he joked with reporters after he’d finished second in 8:13.37 — a six-second personal best — to earn a spot on Team USA at the World Champs in Beijing in August. Jager finished a second ahead, Huling a second behind.
For Cabral, it has been a huge return to the global stage after advancing to the Olympic final in London three years ago. What followed was a bewildering year that saw him struggle with each race… and even workout. Doctors eventually determined that the culprit was Lyme disease. After antibiotics, rest and regular blood tests, Cabral is now back and better than ever. And a warning to his competitors at Worlds, he has a history of showing up when it counts.
Cabral was one of three Ivy Leaguers to earn a spot in Beijing on Sunday. In all, five Leaguers grabbed up six slots for Team USA as Ben True took second in the 10k on Thursday and followed up with yet another second in the 5,000-meter run today. True just ran with the pack for most of the slow-paced race, but as the pace finally broke True held tight, running alongside Galen Rupp, Lopez Lomong and Bernard Lagat at the bell.
Around the final turn, True ran wide (but nearly not wide enough as Ryan Hill almost took him out) and cranked it home, passing Rupp into second, crossing the line in 13:51.09. Hill took the win and Rupp held on for third, leaving legends like Lomong and Lagat on the sidelines.
Afterward, when asked about his need to hit the 5k standard of 13:23 by early August, True was confident, saying, “That shouldn’t be a problem.”
So while the men’s 5k was slow, the women’s was just the opposite. Shalane Flanagan decided to take the pace out fast and separate the contenders quickly. And three minutes into the race, the top six — with Dartmouth graduate Abbey D’Agostino included — moved away from the field.
It became apparent that the top three were going to easily better the standard of 15:20, thus be fully qualified for Beijing, but who those three would be remained in question — even late on the final lap. Flanagan, who did so much of the work, fell off the pace as did Katie Mackey. That left D’Agostino, Nicole Tully, Marielle Hall and Emily Infeld battling for a ticket to China.
Tully and Hall would finish 1-2, within a hundredth of a second, while D’Ags would battle past Infeld on the inside of the homestretch to finish in 15:06.59, a new personal best. “It’s surreal,” she said of making Team USA afterward. “There’s no way to describe the emotion … It’s still sinking in.”
She will be heading off to Ireland and then China starting next week.
Another Ivy Leaguer in on Saturday was Princeton grad Imani Oliver, who was triple jumping at the Jamaican Nationals in Kingston. She finished third with a leap of 13.05 (42-9 3/4) and could take a spot in Beijing if she can hit the standard. The bad news is that the difficult standard is about four feet farther than her Champs’ mark.