Karly Hamric got the good news last Monday night: She is officially a competitor in the 1,500-meter race at this year’s U.S. Olympic Trials taking place at the University of Oregon’s Heyward Field.
Hamric’s best time of 4:13.04 performed last year at the Victoria International Track Classic as part of the Canadian Race Series was the cutoff for this year’s 30-member 1,500-meter women’s field.
“The declaration to say whether or not they were racing was midnight Monday,” Hamric said. “Nothing was official, but I had a pretty good idea then that I was going to be alright. A girl who qualified in the 5K decided not to do both because they were really close together on the schedule, and then another girl just dropped out.”
Getting to the U.S. Olympic Trials is any athlete’s goal, but for Hamric, a late bloomer, it didn’t even seem like a remote possibility well into her senior season at WVU in 2010. Then, she blew up late in the outdoor season, first winning the Big East 1,500 title with an unbelievable finish, and later placing sixth at outdoor nationals to earn NCAA All-America honors.
From there her track career has really taken off.
“(Big East outdoors) was when I really got confident in the 1,500,” she admitted. “I won the Big East and popped out a really fast time and got a lot of confidence and felt like I had made a huge step in my career and still thought I had more in me.”
Obviously she does.
Her current best time is about seven seconds shy of an Olympic “A” qualifying standard and although she is considered a long shot to make the U.S. team this year, getting to race on the big stage Thursday night against some of the finest athletes in the world will be a tremendous learning experience for her.
“Whatever I’ve got and as long as I put it out there I can’t be disappointed,” she said.
The women’s 1,500 field is made up of three heats of 10 runners. Twenty four will advance to the second round on Friday night and from those two heats, the final field of 12 will make up Sunday’s final. Hamric said she isn’t certain what time she will have to run to advance to Friday, but at some point, she is going to have to run a personal best (PR) to stay alive.
“It’s hard with semis because they don’t really care how fast they run, especially those girls who already have the Olympic ‘A’ standard, so they don’t need to run fast,” Hamric explained. “It’s pretty tactical so it could go out at a really slow pace and then at one point it clicks and everyone starts sprinting. You’ve got to be prepared for anything.”
Earlier this year Hamric was slowed by an Achilles injury, but she is now back on track with her training and even managed to get in some competitive racing earlier this month.
“Around the middle of February I was on a roll and then one day my Achilles started bugging me and I was out until the end of March, so I kind of got a late start to the season,” Hamric said. “I wasn’t on a roll as I normally am.”
Hamric is not the only local resident competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials this weekend. WVU teammate Chelsea Carrier-Eades
has already performed in the 100-meter hurdles and will also be competing in the women’s heptathlon beginning on Friday with the hurdles - Carrier-Eades’ best event.
WVU teammate Clara Grandt was unsuccessful in her bid to qualify for the U.S. Olympic marathon team earlier this spring, while Keri Bland also has Olympic Trials experience, performing in 2008.
Hamric (Bruceton Mills), Carrier-Eades (Buckhannon), Grandt (West Union) and Bland (Fairview) all grew up within 75 miles of Morgantown and competed against each other in high school. It is unlikely the area will ever again produce a group of runners this talented.
“It’s pretty incredible, and I don’t think a lot of people realize it,” she said. “All of us raced each other since we were like 14 in high school. I think it will be pretty tough to recapture it.”
Hamric said right now she is focusing solely on Thursday night’s race and then after that, she will sit down with her former coach Sean Cleary and figure out what’s next for her career.
“I am taking it as they come,” she said. “I got here and I’m trying to get through this the best that I can and see what happens, and then make that decision each year as it comes.
“I don’t quite want to take a break yet, so it’s hard to say.”
The women’s 1,500 is schedule to get underway at 7:50 ET. NBC Sports Network
will have live coverage as well as online at NBCOlympics.com.Be sure to follow Mountaineer women's track on Facebook and click the "Like" button to have official WVU women's track news sent directly to your Facebook wall.