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  • Randy Pench /

    Former UC Davis athlete Kim Conley wins the 10,000 meters during Day 2 of the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships at Sacramento State.

  • Randy Pench /

    Kim Conley is congratulated by fans after she won the 10,000-meter title on Thursday. The former UC Davis athlete avenged a loss to Jordan Hasay from earlier this year for her first title.

  • Randy Pench /

    Amanda Smock competes in the triple jump which she won with a 45-foot 2 1/4-inch effort.

  • Randy Pench /

    A pregnant Alysia Montano, the four-time defending champion in the 800 meters, rests after competing in the women’s 800 on Thursday. She finished last in her heat but said she felt good.

  • Randy Pench /

    Allyson Felix finishes her heat in the 100 meters in 11.53, good enough to qualify for Friday's semi-final.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. /

    Kibwe Johnson hoped for a better mark but won his third hammer throw title on Thursday.

Former UC Davis star edges Hasay for first title

Published: Thursday, Jun. 26, 2014 - 11:56 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Jun. 27, 2014 - 7:52 am

Day 2 was defined by distances long and short.

The USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships moved from the scenic front lawn of the state Capitol for the Capitol Shot to Sacramento State to break in the sparkling new fast track on Thursday, and be it the sprints, the middle distances or the ever-grueling 10,000 meters, the efforts were impressive and inspiring.

With 1964 Olympic gold medalist and general goodwill ambassador Billy Mills on the infield, soaking in every lap, UC Davis graduate Kim Conley overcame Jordan Hasay on the back stretch to win the 10K in 32 minutes, 2.07 seconds. Relatively new to this race, Conley, 28, responded from Hasay’s charge on the final curve to win her first national title, and she threw her arms up triumphantly as an announced crowd of 5,824 roared her home. Hasay, the former Oregon Ducks great who beat Conley in a 10K earlier this spring, was second at 32:03.28.

“I had a closing kick in my back pocket,” a delighted Conley said. “I really wanted to win a national championship. To do it here with friends and family ... special.”

That American record holder Shalane Flanagan was a late scratch didn’t dim Conley’s glow. The only American to win Olympic gold in the 10,000, Mills gave Conley a ringing endorsement, saying later, “She’s a diamond in the rough on the global level. She can be special. This was her second big 10K. In my fourth, I won the Olympics, so you never know. Kim has it all, strength and courage.”

The night ended with Galen Rupp winning his sixth consecutive outdoor 10K, using a furious kick to outdistance Chris Derrick in 28:12.07. Derrick was second in 28:18.18.

Before the 10K, hometown sprint favorite Diondre Batson couldn’t erase his broad grin. The Alabama senior by way of Laguna Creek High School and American River College won his 100-meter heat in 10.27 seconds, the second-fastest qualifying effort. But it wasn’t necessarily the time that pleased the long, lanky Batson. It was being active and engaged in his first open race since the Southeastern Conference season in April, having been slowed by a troublesome hamstring.

“I’m relieved more than anything,” said Batson, the NCAA indoor 200-meter champion. “I felt great. It was nice to come out of the blocks again. I just want to make it through the rounds healthy. It takes sitting out a long time like I did to really appreciate good health.”

The feel-good moment of the day was delivered by a woman ready to deliver any week now.

Alysia Montano, the four-time defending USA champion in the 800, finished last in her heat, but the fact that she was even out there drew the loudest ovation.

Montano is quite pregnant, beach-ball pregnant, actually, as her pink top was stretched to rip levels. Expecting her first child, Montano is 34 weeks along, and she competed here because that’s what she does.

She ran a relaxed 2:32.13, surely some sort of record for someone carrying such a load.

“I’m done running for a while now,” a glowing Montano said. “I viewed it as a celebration. I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m 34 weeks along,’ but I’m healthy. It’s the power of the people and an example of how amazing the female body is. My doctor told me I could do this, and I was feeling the fire and desire to run, but it was a jog. I wanted to be here. I just didn’t want to be the first person to be lapped in this race.”

UC Davis graduate Lauren Wallace qualified in the 800 in 2:02.16. Laura Roesler of Oregon had the top time of 2:01.64, and high praise for Montano, saying, “That’s pretty cool. It’s great for the sport and she was pumped to be here.”

Other highlights included:

• USA javelin record holder Kara Patterson won her fifth outdoor national title in a showdown with Brittany Borman as they became the first two American women to go over 200 feet in the same meet. Patterson went 204 feet, 10 inches and Borman 203-7. Patterson also set the stadium record.

• Amanda Smock won the triple jump, her third USA outdoor title to go with two indoor championships. Inspired by her father, Glen Thieschafer, who succumbed to cancer in 2009 at 52, Smock has won all of her national championships since 2011.

• Kibwe Johnson won his third USA hammer title in four years at 243 feet, 4 inches on his second attempt. Still, he wasn’t entirely pleased, saying he was “inconsistent” and adding, “I am not terribly happy, but the main goal was to win and I did that.”

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.

Read more articles by Joe Davidson

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