By Phillip Whitten
Photos by Peter Bick
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, April 6. THERE was never any doubt that Katie Ziegler would win the final event of the USA World Championship Trials, the women’s 1500 meters. After all, the longer the race, the tougher the 16 year-old distance phenom becomes.
And so it went.
Ziegler wasted no time in establishing her dominance, opening up nearly a one-second lead at the 50 and a two-second margin at the 100. With 1400 meters left in the race, the only question was: Who will be second?
That question would not be answered until the final lap.
After the 200-meter mark, Ziegler settled into a comfortable pace of 1:06 per 100 meters before touching home in 16:26.91. But behind her, a three-way battle for second was being waged among Claire Hutchinson, Lauren Costella and Margaret Keefe.
Costella, 20, held a narrow lead of Hutchinson, 18, through 150 meters, when the North Baltimore ace took over. Keefe, meanwhile, was back in 12th place.
Hutchinson opened up a one-second lead over Costella at 300 meters and held on until just after the 600-meter turn, when Costella took over. Meanwhile, Keefe moved up to 10th at 300 meters, fifth at 400. By 500 meters she had settled into the fourth position.
Hutchinson was not able to hold her lead and at the 750-meer turn, Costella burst out ahead, with Keefe closing to within three seconds. Costella slowly built her lead to two seconds over Hutchinson, as Keefe kept creeping closer, turning at the 1100-meter mark just four-tenths behind Hutchinson. Two hundred meters later, the margin was just 15-hundredths.
Then Hutchinson found a second wind and began moving up on Costella as Keefe hung gamely in. With 100 meters to go, the three women were almost dead even: Hutchinson had a tiny 5-hundredts lead on Costella with Keefe 34-hundredths farther back. Nothing had changed by the final turn and the second spot in the 1500 would come down to a 50-meter sprint.
Hutchinson had the most left, finding a 31.79-second final 50 deep inside herself, and she finished in 16:42.85. Costella was more than a second back in 16:44.22, just ahead of Keefe in 16:44.58.