Steeplechasers are obviously no strangers to obstacles, but en route to placing first and second, respectively, in the 3000-meter steeplechase at last weekend’s USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Duluth, MN, Nicole Bush and Ashley Higginson overcame more than mere hurdles and water pits.
For Bush, who won the race in a time of 9:44.53, making the team that will represent the United States this summer at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow marked the end of a journey that began five years ago, when she suffered the first of two heartbreaking setbacks.
At the 2008 Olympic Trials, Bush finished fourth, missing out on Beijing by one place. The following year, at the National Championships in Eugene, OR, after a race official set a barrier too high, she took a nasty spill and fractured the cuboid bone in her right foot.
Bush seems to have made a full recovery, however, and on Saturday, June 22, she led the field from start to finish.
“The plan was to just go out and aggressively hurdle cleanly for the first 1500 meters,” she said, according to Letsrun.com. “I just happened to be in the lead, and I kind of just wanted to trust my instincts and trust how I felt. I guess it worked out.”
Things also worked out for Higginson, a law student at Rutgers University and member of the New Jersey–New York Track Club. Higginson experienced her own heartache last year, when she finished fourth at the Olympic Trials and missed a trip to London.
After Saturday’s race—in which Shalaya Kipp finished third—an emotional Higginson thanked NJNYTC coach Frank Gagliano for helping her make the national squad.
“I run for him every time,” she said. “Our team’s energy is unbelievable.”
Gagliano also found himself getting choked up, although, as he told the NJNYTC website, Higginson kept things from getting too serious.
“This girl jumps up in the stands to hug me, we’re both crying, and when the people made an ‘aww’ sound, she looks up at ’em and tells them, ‘He’s not my grandpa, he’s my coach!’” Gagliano said.
Photograph of Nicole Bush (c) David Monti 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.