Monday, 04 July 2016 08:36

    Winona's Garrett Heath has eyes on Olympics tonight Featured

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    Former 8-time Minnesota state champ will
    compete for one of three spots on U.S. team in 5,000

    EUGENE, Ore. -- I've competed against Garrett Heath in a 5,000 meter. I was even ahead of him in that race. 

    It's my claim to running fame. 

    If you don't know who Heath is, you can watch him at 7 p.m. tonight in the 5,000-meter semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field.

    It will be streamed live here.

    Heath is a Winona, Minn., native. A 2004 Winona Senior High School graduate, who went on to become a nine-time all-American at Stanford (and he got his doctorate). At WSHS, he won eight state championships (two in cross country, two in Nordic skiing, two in the 1,600 and two in the 3,200) and now competes professionally for Brooks Running out of Seattle, Wash.

    Winona is a run-crazed town and Heath would be the defacto hero, though a lot of other runners have emerged before and after him (including his younger brother Elliott and 12-year-old Grace Ping).

    Garrett is a favorite to take one of the top three spots on the U.S. team in the 5,000 finals Saturday and will, of course, go to Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

    I was ahead of Heath in the Goodview Gallop 5k.

    It's like Winona's amateur Olympics. This race was a long time ago. On my 30th birthday, which for Heath, who is now 30 himself, it would have made him 23 or so.

    So, a pretty impressive feat on my part. But I was also only ahead of him because he, essentially, lapped me (and most of the field, I'm not that slow ... or I wasn't that slow back then). As he was heading to the finish line behind us, we were still less than halfway through the race.

    So, from a certain perspective (mine), I was ahead of him.

    In less important news (#sarcasm), this is the third time Heath is going for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

    The first two times he was competing in the 1,500. Now, he would probably tell you he's older and slower, therefore, needs to up the distance to stay in the game. 

    When he did run the 1,500, he came as close as the semifinals to making the Olympics twice.

    Since, he's made the switch to the 5,000.

    In January, Heath beat the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Britain's Mo Farah, in the Great Edinburgh International Cross Country race (8,000 meters, pic right). In March, Heath was fourth in the 1,500 and fifth in the 3,000 at the U.S. National Championships.

    And, last year, he was .07 seconds from making the U.S. team in the 5,000 for the World Championships, taking third.

    Ryan Hill won that race last year, followed by Ben True and Galen Rupp, who took the silver in the 10,000 at the 2012 Olympics. Rupp also just won the 10,000 on Friday in front of 20,987 fans at Hayward Field. There was a chance Rupp wouldn't take part in today's race - he has also qualified in the marathon - but he said he will.

    Also in the field Monday will be Hassan Mead, who competed against Elliott Heath in multiple Minnesota high school state championships - in 2006-07, Mead won cross country and Heath won in track (3,200) - before going on to run for the University of Minnesota. 

    Mead has the fastest 5,000 of 2016. 

    Bernard Lagat, 41, is another big time name in the field. He has the 5,000 American record. Both Mead and Lagat dropped out of the 10,000 mid-race Friday.

    Read 1018 times Last modified on Monday, 04 July 2016 09:07

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