June 28, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. - UC Davis volunteer assistant coach Kim Conley surged from a big deficit on the final straightaway Thursday night, leaning her way into third place at the finish line of the 5,000-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, and earning a berth to the London Games.
Her top-three finish earned her a spot on the United States team while her time of 15 minutes, 19.79 seconds beat the Olympic Games "A" standard of 15:20, guaranteeing her a spot in the 5K field in August.
Julie Culley (Asics/NYAC) won the race in 15:13.77 while Molly Huddle (Saucony) was second in 15:14.40.
Conley, who enjoyed a decorated track and field and cross country career at UC Davis before joining the coaching staff, used an amazing finish to edge Julia Lucas by .04 and Abbey D'Agostino by .19. She was in fifth place coming into the final stretch, an estimated 35 meters behind the leaders and approximately 20-25 meters back of Lucas and D'Agostino.
However, she reeled in both of them with a final surge, leaning into third place from the outside with barely a foot to go. Conley was among the leaders most of the race before falling back into the middle of the pack. Conley said she knew it would be an uphill battle with about 600 meters remaining.
"I thought it was over but I just couldn't give up on the dream," she told a national television audience right after the race."
Conley, running for New Balance/SRA Elite, will now turn her attention to a realized dream with her trip to the 2012 Olympics in London. The women's 5,000 prelims will be held on Aug. 7 while the final is scheduled on Aug. 10.
""This is beyond a dream come true," she said during the postrace press conference. "Four years ago, I was watching the Olympic Trials on TV thinking `Wow, it would be cool to run here,' and four years later I'm an Olympian. I still can't believe it."
Conley wasn't the only former Aggie student-athlete in competition on Thursday. Alex Wilright, who graduated in 2011 after a standout hurdling career at UC Davis, advanced to the 400 hurdles semifinals with a time of 50.31 seconds. He finished third in his heat and will race again on Friday at 3:35 p.m.
Wilright, running for Evo Track Club, earned All-America second-team honors in the event for UC Davis as a senior.
UC Davis will have another volunteer assistant coach looking to punch a ticket to London when former standout swimmer Scott Weltz in the 200-meter breaststroke final on Friday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. He races at 4:45 p.m. (Pacific).