June 21-24, 2001 at Eugene OR

Preps in USA Nationals

Pearl's report on Alan Webb

Slightly disappointing yet very encouraging

by Pearl Watts,

(Editor's Note: Pearl Watts is a Northern Virginia track writer and announcer
who has followed Webb's career up close throughout his high school days )


EUGENE OR 6/23/01 -- Alan Webb of South Lakes had his dream senior year end with a slightly
disappointing yet very encouraging fifth place finish in the 1,500 meter run
final at the USATF Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday.

Webb, who had won his trial heat on Thursday in impressive fashion in 3
minutes, 45.77 seconds after coming from well off the pace and clocking 53.6
for his final 400 meters and 25.5 for the last 200 meters, returned on
Saturday to run the second fastest 1,500 ever by a high schooler with his
time of 3:38.50 which was just off his own high school standard of 3:38.26
set enroute to his record 3:53.43 mile last month.

Thursday's showing by Webb left many people as tabbing him as a potential
top three placer and possible winner with NCAA champion Bryan Berryhill of
Colorado State, who won his trial heat in 3:40.47 after going 55.7 in the
final 400 and 27.0 for his last 200 looking to be the strongest of the group
in the twelve runner final. 2000 Olympic Trials winner Gabe Jennings of
Stanford was the other trial heat winner on Thursday in 3:40.80 and had shown
that he also was capable of a fast finish with his 55.8 (400) and 27.7 final
kick in the 200 with 2001 U.S. mile champion Seneca Lassiter from Lafayette
High (Williamsburg) and 1996 Olympic Trials champ Paul McMullen also adding
luster to the field.

Berryhill, as expected, took the lead in the finals at the outset and
pushed the pace through the first 400 in 58.3 with Webb next to last in the
crowded field and Berryhill still held the lead at 800 meters in 1:57.8 with
Webb up to ninth in 1:59.0.

Just before the bell lap signifying the start of the final 400, Jennings
made a strong move into the lead with Webb up a notch to eighth place. The
surge by Jennings gave him a gap over the chase group by about five meters on
the backstretch with Webb passing former George Mason University and W.T.
Woodson High star Ibrahim Aden Gedi for seventh with 250 meters to go.
Webb was able to move up to sixth on the final straight and got past
Michael Stember of Stanford for his fifth place finish in 3:38.50 as he
clocked a very creditable 55.6 for his last 400 meters. In the race for first
place a tiring Jennings finally relinquished the lead with less than 20
meters to go to Lassiter with unheralded Andy Downin then just edging
Lassiter at the finish for the win.

Georgetown graduate Downin, who had run 3:56.25 for the mile this season
but had just a best of 3:44.55 to his credit this season in the 1,500 was
victorious in 3:37.63 with Lassiter a close second in 3:37.66 and McMullen
coming on strong for third in 3:37.94 to edge fourth place finisher Jennings

". . . should have moved earlier."

Webb said, "I didn't grind it out and should have moved earlier in the
race, but I didn't seem to have it in me. I had wanted to go a little bit
earlier (600 meters to go) but I felt it was difficult to move with so many
people in the race running at a solid pace. It hurt a little bit not knowing
the competition. There were so many possibilities going into the race and
about the only clear thing that anybody knew was probably going to happen was
that Berryhill would set the early pace and that Jennings would make a move
sometime from 600 meters on in."

"It was a tough day and I'm a little disappointed. I've been racing since
September and it's been a pretty long year. I closed well; better than I
thought I would and 3:38.50 isn't that bad a time. I'm going to have a rest
period now but it will probably be a one or two week period of active rest. A
couple of light runs, some swimming, some bike riding. If I don't do
something I will probably get sick like I did after the cross country season.
My body is in tune to doing something every day. It probably won't take me
long to get tired of watching MTV and getting back at training. I have a good
attitude getting ready for my first year at Michigan. The wins don't make you
tougher; the losses do. After getting beat at Nationals in cross country, my
first attempt at the mile was the high school record."

"It was a great year, but it's time to end it."

South Lakes coach Scott Raczko, who has done a somewhat unsung but
certainly superlative job with Webb the last three years said, "it's been a
great season for Alan, fifth in the U.S. is a big accomplishment. Nationals
was a great learning experience for him, both in the trials and in the
finals, but it's time to end the season. The year was well planned and went
well. It was a great year, but it's time to end it."

No regrets on Raleigh racing

Asked about the fact that Webb had run two races the previous week at the
adidas Outdoor Championships in Raleigh with the distance medley just four
days before the trial heat in the 1,500, Raczko said, "you don't know if
racing in Raleigh helped or hurt him, there are so many what ifs. The big
thing is that even looking back on it now, Alan is glad he ran his last high
school race with his teammates and they set a national record. Alan should
have plenty of U.S. Championships to run in the future but there was only one
chance for that high school record and it's something that the four of them
will remember forever."


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