Sean O'Brien will be running in the NCAA 1,500-Meter final on Saturday after placing fourth in the preliminary round.
BATON ROUGE, La. - American junior Sean O'Brien (Tewksbury, Mass./Winnisquam Regional) advanced to the NCAA final in the 1,500-meters for the second year in a row. In one of the closest preliminary races ever, O'Brien finished fourth in 3:45.18 to automatically move on to Saturday's final.
O'Brien started on the outside of the field and quickly settled into the pack in the first 100 meters. Stanford's Gabe Jennings led a tightly bunched pack through the first lap in 61.2 seconds.
In the second lap, O'Brien was in fifth just in front of Michigan's Alan Webb. He was on the rail as Jennings continued to lead as the pack ran 63.8 seconds for the second lap.
There was lots of pushing among the runners in the third lap as they jockeyed for position. O'Brien moved up on the inside of the field, but was still caught on the rail as the whole pack ran together with one lap to go. The pace quickened in the third lap, as they ran 59.6
With 300-meters to go, O'Brien moved outside on the field and began to move up on the pack. He took the lead with 200-meters to go and led the field down the homestretch.
|The finish of the 1,500-meters. O'Brien is on the very inside of the track beginning his dive for the line. (Photo by Richard Alan Hannon - The Advocate)|
"We were going so slow I knew [because of the previous heat] that I had to be fourth or I might not make the final," O'Brien said after the race.
With all 10 runners still together, a mad dash ensued for the finish line. O'Brien dove across the finish line which proved to be the difference as he finished in fourth, just .01 ahead of fifth place. The entire field of the heat was separated by only .50 seconds.
"Out of the corner of my eye I saw a wall of about four people wide so I dove for the line," O'Brien said about the finish.
The first heat of the 1,500-meters went much faster than O'Brien's heat. Four runners automatically qualified from each heat with the next four fastest runners moving on to the final. Seven of the qualifiers came from the first heat while five came from O'Brien's heat.
O'Brien will be running in the 1,500-meter final on Saturday, June 1 at 8:00 p.m. (CST). Live results from the race and all other events at the NCAA Championships can be found here.