Pair of Arkansas alums race in Olympic Trials finals

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Taylor Werner (left) and Nikki Hiltz (right). (photo courtesy of the University of Arkansas)

EUGENE, Oregon — Arkansas alums Nikki Hiltz and Taylor Werner each raced in a final on the fourth day of the U.S. Olympic Trials on Monday at Hayward Field. Werner placed 11th in the 5,000m while Hiltz finished 13th in the 1,500m.

Werner led the field through each lap up to and just past 3,000m, with a 1k split of 3:05.71 and then 9:35.07 at 3k. With the field producing laps of 1:19 and 1:20 from 1,600m to 3,400m, the pace sped up to laps of 1:11, 1:10, 1:08 and 1:04 over the final mile.

Finishing in a time of 15:56.83, Werner covered the final mile with splits of 1:14.42, 1:15.28, 1:15.99, and 1:16.04.

Eilse Cranny won the 5,000m in 15:27.81 with Karissa Schweizer runner-up (15:28.11) and Rachel Schneider third (15:29.56).

Quite a bit of jostling around at the start of the 1,500m created a precarious situation for the field, but everyone remained upright as they regained their footing and stride.

Hiltz was in a good position on the first couple of laps, which were covered 1:05.44 and 1:04.81 (2:10.15), coming through in fourth and fifth position at that stage of the race.

The leaders increased the pace to 1:02.21, shared by winner Elle Purrier St. Pierre and runner-up Cory McGee, on the third circuit. Then the sprint to the finish produced a meet record for St. Pierre in 3:58.03 as she closed with a 46.63 over the final 300m.

McGee (49.18) followed, collecting a PR of 4:00.67, while Heather MacLean moved from fifth to third with a 48.36 split to set a career best of 4:02.09 in finishing third.

Hiltz placed 13th with a time of 4:10.06, joined by a couple of others who were expected to contend for a top three spot in Dani Jones (9th, 4:06.46) and Jenny Simpson (10th, 4:07.76).

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