Sports

Shelby Houlihan wins second national track title

Former Sioux City prep runs down another Iowan in women's 5,000

Women’s 5,000-meter winner Shelby Houlihan (center) poses with runner-up Rachel Schneider (left) and third-place finisher Karissa Schweizer during the USA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Houlihan is from Sioux City, Schweizer from Urbandale. (USA Today Sports)
Women’s 5,000-meter winner Shelby Houlihan (center) poses with runner-up Rachel Schneider (left) and third-place finisher Karissa Schweizer during the USA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Houlihan is from Sioux City, Schweizer from Urbandale. (USA Today Sports)

DES MOINES — For the second straight day, Shelby Houlihan had to chase down a fellow Iowan.

Urbandale’s Karissa Schweizer led the women’s 5,000-meter race on Sunday with two laps left at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.

Houlihan, a Sioux City native, sat in second.

Houlihan kicked with 200 meters left and, once again, caught and passed her fellow statesman.

Beyond her initial kick, she had a kick within her kick. In the last 50 meters, she separated herself and made every other competitor seem like they were moving in slow motion.

“(It came from) somewhere deep down in,” Houlihan said of her impressive kick. “I felt good throughout the race, and I knew I had a lot left with 800 meters left. My coach told me before the race to wait until 400 (meters) at least to take the lead. Even then, I don’t think I took the lead until 200 meters were left.”

Rachel Schneider finished second. Houlihan knew Schneider had a good kick, too, and that’s why she felt she needed to shift into that last gear.

“I know Rachel has a lot of speed, I was just hoping she wasn’t right on my shoulders,” Houlihan said. “I just kind of switched gears again in the last 50 hoping she wouldn’t be able to catch me.”

Houlihan won with a time of 15 minutes, 31.03 seconds. Schneider finished in 15:32.71 and Schweizer third in 15:34.31.

As soon as Houlihan crossed the finish line, she found her family in the stands. She had about 20 family members in attendance in Drake Stadium. Her parents travel a lot to watch her, but this was one of the few times Houlihan’s extended family was able to watch her.

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“As soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew where my family was sitting, and they were going crazy,” Houlihan said. “To have my aunts and uncles and cousins here, that’s way cooler just because they don’t get to see me run that often.”

On Saturday, Houlihan ran down Webster City native Jenny Simpson in the 1,500-meter race. Sunday it was Schweizer.

“I think it’s awesome,” Houlihan said of her fellow Iowans running strong races. “We’re representing Iowa well, in Iowa. I think that’s a really cool thing.”

This is Houlihan’s seventh national title in the last two years. She is only the second woman to win both events at the same national meet.

“I set out to win both (the 1,500-meter race and the 5,000-meter race) and it’s awesome that I was able to do that,” Houlihan said. “I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet.”

From Schweizer’s perspective, she knew going into the last few laps she needed to have a significant lead if she was going to have a chance.

She achieved her goal of a top-three finish, however, and shared in another special moment.

“(Running with Houlihan) was really cool,” Schweizer said. “I heard the announcer say at one time, ‘And two Iowa girls are running No. 1 and No. 2.’ I thought that would be so cool for two of us to finish in the top three, so I tried to hang in there and represent Iowa well.”

Former Iowa runner Erik Sowinski had a plan going into the 800-meter race. He wanted to be the hunter, not the hunted.

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Sowinski usually tries to lead wire-to-wire, but Clayton Murphy and Isiah Harris have been catching him lately. So he tried to run behind them on Sunday and catch them, like they were doing to him.

“I wanted to try something different,” Sowinski said. “I haven’t beaten Clayton or Isiah running from the front, but I was a little too far back.

“But to finish top three against those two guys is awesome.”

Murphy won with a time of 1:46.50, Harris got second in 1:47.11 and Sowinski finished in 1:47.76.

Former Iowa State distance runner Hillary Bor finished second in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Bor ran in second for nearly the entire race behind American record-holder Evan Jager, who was a silver medalist in the 2016 Olympics.

Jager won the race with a time of 8:20.10, which was a Drake Stadium record. Bor, also a 2016 Olympian in the steeplechase, finished in 8:22.58.

In other events Sunday, Ajee Wilson set a Drake Stadium record in the women’s 800, clocking 1:58.18. Reggie Jagers also set a stadium record in the men’s discus with a toss of 225 feet, 1 inch.

Eric Bougard won the heptathlon with 6,347 points. Alex Gochenour was second at 6,003.

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