PER­SONAL BEST

AMER­I­CANS COBURN, EX-LOBO FRERICHS GET A SUR­PRIS­ING FIN­ISH IN STEEPLE­CHASE

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE - JOUR­NAL STAFF AND WIRES

For­mer Lobo Court­ney Frerichs beat her per­sonal best by 16 sec­onds to win sil­ver at World Chamion­ships

LON­DON — For­mer Univer­sity of New Mex­ico cross-coun­try and track and field star Court­ney Frerichs was part of the most jaw-drop­ping re­sult in a week of up­sets dur­ing the world cham­pi­onships at the Olympic Sta­dium.

It came in the women’s steeple­chase Fri­day when the United States clinched an un­likely 1-2 fin­ish at the ex­pense of the Kenyans.

Emma Coburn took the lead for good at the fi­nal wa­ter jump and kicked for home to fin­ish in a cham­pi­onship record of 9 min­utes, 2.58 sec­onds.

“Oh my good­ness, what a race to be part of,” Coburn said. “I never ex­pected to win in that time but I kept press­ing. It is pretty amaz­ing to get a cham­pi­onship record.”

Frerichs fin­ished sec­ond by out­kick­ing de­fend­ing cham­pion Hyvin Jep­ke­moi of Kenya in a sprint for sil­ver. Frerich’s time of 9:03.77 set a per­sonal best by 16

sec­onds and ranks her sev­enth all-time in women’s the steeple­chase.

“I would never have be­lieved this could hap­pen,” Frerichs said.

Beatrice Chep­koech of Kenya, the third best per­former this year, was run­ning in the lead at the start when she missed the turn for the wa­ter jump on the in­side of the track and had to go back. She made a strong come­back but faded in the re­mark­able last lap.

Frerichs and Coburn were the first two U.S. women to ever earn a medal in the event at the world cham­pi­onships.

“My coach (Jerry Schu­macher) told me ‘just go for it,’” Frerichs said dur­ing a pos­trace in­ter­view, about go­ing for the lead on the bell lap. “He told me Emma races smart and I felt very com­fort­able fol­low­ing her. Her form is great and there was an ex­treme level of com­fort.”

As the race pro­gressed through one kilo­me­ter, world-record holder and 2016 Olympic cham­pion Ruth Jebet of Bahrain be­gan to in­crease the pace, with Frerichs re­main­ing in con­tention.

At the bell lap, Jebet fell off the lead, al­low­ing Frerichs to move up on the out­side and into sec­ond place.

Af­ter com­ing to New Mex­ico in 2015 as a trans­fer, Frerichs helped the Lo­bos to the 2015 NCAA team cham­pi­onship in cross coun­try be­fore claim­ing the NCAA steeple­chase record at the 2016 NCAA Out­door Cham­pi­onships in Eu­gene, Ore..

Sub­se­quently, Frerichs placed sec­ond in the event at the 2016 US Olympic Team Tri­als be­fore plac­ing 11th in the fi­nals of the event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

This year, Frerichs set a then-per­sonal record of 9:19.09 in May be­fore claim­ing run­ner-up hon­ors in the event at the 2017 USATF Out­door Cham­pi­onships to se­cure her spot in Lon­don.

From Justin Gatlin beat­ing Usain Bolt in the 100 on the open­ing week­end to Ramil Guliyev of Turkey win­ning the 200 ahead of Wayde van Niekerk, the crowd at the cham­pi­onships has been stunned plenty of times.

And an­other crazy in­ci­dent came Fri­day in the long jump. Ivana Spanovic seemed to have pro­duced a medal-win­ning leap on her fi­nal at­tempt, but she was given a much shorter mark — seem­ingly be­cause the num­ber bib on her back dragged into the sand and likely cost her pre­cious cen­time­ters.

With­out that jump, Brit­tney Reese added a world ti­tle to the Olympic gold she won in the same sta­dium five years ago. The Amer­i­can hadn’t won a ma­jor ti­tle since 2013, but her jump of 7.02 me­ters was good enough for her fourth world ti­tle.

Darya Klishina of Rus­sia, com­pet­ing as a neu­tral ath­lete be­cause of her coun­try’s dop­ing sus­pen­sion, took sil­ver with a jump of 7.00 me­ters, and de­fend­ing cham­pion Tianna Bar­to­letta added an­other Amer­i­can medal with bronze.

Dafne Schip­pers re­stored some nor­malcy Fri­day in the women’s 200, dip­ping at the line just ahead of Marie-Josee Ta Lou in an­other ex­tremely close race to de­fend her ti­tle in 20.05 sec­onds.

In the men’s ham­mer throw, Poland got an­other gold when Pawel Fa­jdek won his third straight ti­tle. Va­leriy Pronkin of Rus­sia, also com­pet­ing as a neu­tral ath­lete, took sil­ver ahead of Wo­j­ciech Now­icki of Poland.

Go­ing into the closing week­end, the United States has eight gold medals. Kenya is sec­ond with three. Over­all, the Amer­i­cans have 23 medals, 15 more than sec­ond­place Kenya.

To­day, La Cueva grad­u­ate and for­mer Lobo Jar­rin Solomon com­petes in the 4x400 heats for Trinidad & Tobago. The fi­nals in that event are at 2:15 MT Sun­day, wrap­ping up the world cham­pi­onships.

DAVID J. PHILLIP/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Emma Coburn, right, cel­e­brates with for­mer New Mex­ico Lobo Court­ney Frerichs af­ter Coburn won the gold medal and Frerichs won the sil­ver in the steeple­chase dur­ing the world cham­pi­onships in Lon­don on Fri­day.

FRANK AUGSTEIN/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Emma Coburn, right, and Court­ney Frerichs, left, pass Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng Jep­ke­moi in the women’s steeple­chase fi­nal Fri­day.

DAVID J. PHILLIP/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Emma Coburn, left, and Court­ney Frerichs cel­e­brate af­ter be­com­ing the first two U.S. women to earn a medal in the steeple­chase at the world cham­pi­onships.

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