EUGENE, Ore. — This time Emily Infeld couldn’t catch the runner in front of her, but she still carried the biggest smile across the finish line. The Georgetown alum’s second-place finish in Saturday’s 10,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials was good enough to send her to the Rio Games next month.
At last year’s world championships in Beijing, Infeld slipped past teammate Molly Huddle in the final meters of the 10,000 to nab the bronze medal. On Saturday, Huddle led for almost the entire race at the U.S. trials and made sure to push through the end, finishing with a time of 31:41.62, beating Infeld by 4.47 seconds.
“Three laps to go, I was like, ‘This is the grind. One lap at a time,’ ” Infeld said. “ ‘Just hang on to Molly, latch on for as long as you can.’ She’s just so tough.”
For Infeld, 26, Saturday’s race capped a long, injury-filled road. She graduated from Georgetown in 2012 and placed eighth in the 5,000 at the 2012 Olympic trials. Working with Coach Jerry Schumacher at the Bowerman Track Club in Portland, Ore., Infeld was sidelined by injuries for parts of 2013, ’14, ’15 and for several weeks leading up to this year’s trials.
She competed this season in a pair of indoor events — one in February and another in March — before an MRI exam revealed yet another stress fracture, this one in her lesser trochanter at the top of the femur. She hadn’t raced outdoors at all this year and hadn’t competed in a race in more than three months.
While she thought about squeezing in a 5,000-meter race, she decided to save everything for the trials. In Eugene on Saturday morning, Schumacher chatted with her before the race, reminding Infeld, “You’ve dreamed of this since you were a little girl.”
“I was like, ‘I know!’ ’’ Infeld said with a laugh later.
Temperatures topped 80 degrees, and the track was hot enough to prompt Infeld to stuff ice in her uniform at the starting line. She spent most of the race in a pack near the front and held on late — when others faded — to punch her ticket to Rio.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “Such a special, amazing moment.”
Huddle and Infeld were friends before the Beijing race 10 months ago and are still friends today. They worked out together Saturday morning before the race, in fact. Looking back, the race still eats at Huddle, but she’s glad Infeld was the one who caught her. “I would’ve felt worse if it was not an American, to be honest,” Huddle said.
Both Infeld and Huddle also plan to compete in the 5,000 race in Eugene, which begins Thursday.
Allyson Felix only could laugh when she was asked whether she would like a medical waiver similar to the one many expect Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt to pursue to reach the Rio Games.
“Of course,” she said. “If I could have another month, that would be ideal. But that’s not how it goes here in America. Just keep fighting.”
Felix is running on a bad ankle here at the trials, where she’s trying to qualify in both the 200 and 400. While she has been in obvious discomfort, she still easily advanced to Sunday’s final in the 400. She posted the second-fastest semifinal time Saturday, a 50.31 finish, just 0.03 seconds behind Francena McCorory.
“Don’t feel like myself, but all I can do is keep pushing. . . . I have to go with what I have,” Felix said.
After Sunday’s final, Felix has a few days to rest her right ankle. The 200 begins Friday.
As for the idea of a medical exemption — impossible under USA Track & Field rules — Felix certainly has some sympathizers.
“She’s the best in her class,” sprinter Justin Gatlin said, “probably the most popular female in all of the track and field world, and she’s still running here on an ankle with multiple Grade 1 tears in her ligaments in her ankle. Think about it: If she’s able to get on the line and go, we all got to do it.”
Brittney Reese will have a chance to defend her long jump Olympic title from the London Games four years ago. The five-time world champion easily bested the field here with a top jump of 23 feet 11¾ inches for her third trials title. She will be joined in Rio by Tianna Bartoletta (23-03/4 ) and Janay DeLoach (22-9). Bartoletta attempted only two jumps because she also had to contend with 100 qualifying, successfully advancing to Sunday’s semifinals. . . .
All three of the women who qualified in the discus will be making their Olympic debuts in Rio. Whitney Ashley won with a top throw of 204-2, followed by Shelbi Vaughan and Kelsey Card. . . .
Midway through the decathlon, Ashton Eaton has a commanding lead with 4,560 points through five events, 82 points ahead of second-place Jeremy Taiwo and 149 over third-place Zach Ziemek.
Perhaps most surprising: Trey Hardee, the silver medalist from the London Games , sits in 17th place because of a hamstring injury. In the day’s final event, Hardee struggled in the 400, finishing in 1:12.49 — more than 21 seconds behind the rest of the field.