Lagat, Rupp put on quite a show at track trials

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By PAT GRAHAM, Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — For a night, the talk at the track wasn't on the controversy surrounding the women's 100.

Instead, the buzz was on a 5,000-meter race between Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat.

The youthful Rupp used a late surge to outkick the 37-year-old Lagat to the finish line on Thursday night at Olympic track trials.

Rupp pumped his fist over and over after finally beating Lagat.

Along with the win, Rupp also broke a nearly 40-year-old meet record with his time of 13 minutes, 22.76 seconds.

Not just any record, either, but a hallowed one that belonged to the late Steve Prefontaine, a legend around these parts after he rose to power at Hayward Field.

This was quite a night for the former Oregon Duck runner. It's turning into a memorable trials, too, as Rupp also won the 10,000 last week.

"I couldn't be more happy with how the meet went for me here," said Rupp, who is planning to run in both events at the London Games. "I knew this was going to be the hard one."

It was a rather easy night for the two sprinters involved in the 100 flap.

Hardly even working up a sweat, Allyson Felix cruised through her heat in the 200 meters. Taking the track minutes later, Jeneba Tarmoh looked just as in control and every bit as dominant.

If controversy was weighing the training partners down, they hardly showed it on the track.

Five days ago, Felix and Tarmoh crossed the finish line in a tie for the third and last Olympic spot in the 100.

Now, everyone is waiting to see what they will choose to break the dead heat — a runoff, coin flip or if one of them simply gives the spot to the other.

After the race, Felix and Tarmoh had really nothing to say. They separately made their way through the media before disappearing into a restricted area.

Both were escorted out by their coach, Bobby Kersee.

The only thing Felix muttered as she left was a simple "after the final" comment when a question was shouted her way. Tarmoh apologized on her walk, politely declining interview requests with a "No, I'm sorry."

Felix and Tarmoh have already said they won't announce any sort of decision until after the final on Saturday.

Judging by their performance on a slick track, they should each have a lane on that day.

Felix looked stylish in her black suit with neon green patches. She looked just as stylish blasting out of the blocks and finishing in a time of 22.82 seconds.

And then Tarmoh took the track. Like Felix, she took off and couldn't be caught, clocking 22.90 seconds.

The 100-meter controversy seemed hardly a concern.

USA Track and Field was caught off guard by the third-place tie and had no protocol in place. The organization had to make one up in a hurry, resulting in all sorts of criticism.

The 200 has long been Felix's specialty, winning Olympic silver medals in 2004 and '08. She's said that if she doesn't get a gold in the 200, it will be considered a "failure."

"Just because it's not my first games, not my second, but my third time," Felix said in a recent interview. "I've had eight years to think about being a silver medalist. This time I want to win."

After six grueling rounds — provided, of course, they both make it to the 200 final — the two will get to pick how to break the tie. While Felix and Tarmoh technically have until Sunday, when the trials end, to decide, there might be some wiggle room.

Kersee has been advocating for a Tuesday runoff race, should that be the option his sprinters decide to pick. That way, they have more time to recover.

Because of the unique circumstances, these two sprinters may forever be linked. Before this drama, many had heard of Felix, who is one of the faces of the sport. But few knew anything about Tarmoh.

Fans are quickly learning about the 22-year-old runner who began turning heads last season when she finished third in the 200 — no tiebreaker necessary — at U.S. championships to earn a spot on the team bound for South Korea.

Soon after, Tarmoh decided to leave Texas A&M and turn pro. She was a two-time runner-up in the 200 at NCAA championships.

Rupp sent the crowd home happy in the last race of the night. He outkicked one of the best, too.

"He's 1-for-13 against Lagat now," his coach, Alberto Salazar, said. "I was going to joke afterward that if Galen had lost today, we still have another five years to beat Lagat. We figure we can get him when he's around 45."

Julie Culley (women's 5,000), Evan Jager (steeplechase), Lance Brooks (discus) and Brad Walker (pole vault) also won.

There was a close finish for the third and final spot in the 5,000 as Kim Conley just edged a fading Julia Lucas. Leading late in the race, Lucas simply ran out of steam in the final 100 meters.

"I gave it away," Lucas said. "It's a cut-throat sport; it's not five games. ... I was running underwater, felt like nothing I could do."

Jenny Simpson's focus was on the track for four minutes — 4:16.70, to be exact — before her mind returned to a raging wildfire back home in Colorado.

The 1,500 runner was highly concerned about the fire near Colorado Springs that has forced more than 30,000 residents from their homes.

Her home is safe for now, she said. But she is wondering if she is getting the full picture from a house sitter.

"I'm suspicious everyone wants me to focus on my racing here. I'll find out the state of my home when I get home," she said.

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