Aug. 6, 2012
• Results | 1500 Meters Replay
MADISON, Wis. -- There were only two places for Hilary (Edmondson) Stellingwerff to go when the pace picked up on the final lap Monday.
When the move came with 300 meters to go in her preliminary heat of the 1500 meters at the Olympic Games, she could either stick with the leaders or slide back in the pack.
Stellingwerff chose to push on, a decision that has her looking ahead to another run inside London’s Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.
The University of Wisconsin graduate ran to a sixth-place finish in the opening heat, clocking in at 4 minutes, 5.79 seconds to take the final automatic qualifying spot for Wednesday’s semifinal round.
“I was just thinking, ‘get in the stadium and the crowd will carry you.’ That’s what my college coach always used to say,” said Stellingwerf, referring to former Badgers mentor Peter Tegen. “It was true.”
Stellingwerff ran well in a tactical race, attaching herself to the leaders and running in the top five throughout the first 600 meters of the race.
She slid slightly to seventh with two laps to go and then found herself mired in traffic as the field took the bell. Though she still ran sixth with 400 meters to go, her position on the inside of the tightly-bunched pack was a dangerous one.
Boxed in, Stellingwerff finally found a gap and moved off the rail, which allowed her to kick with the leaders as the field hit the backstretch for the final time. She climbed to fifth with 200 meters to go and then held on to ensure an automatic spot in the semifinal.
“It was a battle,” Stellingwerff said.. “I just focused on finding the openings because I was boxed in. When I saw it, I made my way on the outside.
“I took a few scratches because of it.”
The gain for that pain, however, is the opportunity to run again on Wednesday, the day after she turns 31 years old.
“I walked out and the stadium was packed,” she said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, this is what I came here for. I didn’t come here for just one race. Let’s get it going.’”