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UPDATE: AHN, UF product Petrick 87th at Olympic marathon trials, aims for Gasparilla

Posted Jan 14, 2012 by Bill Ward

Updated Jan 14, 2012 at 09:37 PM

Former Academy of the Holy Names and University of Florida standout runner Sara Petrick finished 87th at the US Olympic marathon trials Saturday in Houston with a time of 2 hours, 46 minutes and 10 seconds.

“I’m very pleased,” Petrick said from Houston. “I was ranked 163rd coming into the race and finished much higher, so I have to pretty excited about that.”

Petrick’s pre-race ranking was based on her PR of 2:45:23, her qualifying time. What makes her particularly optimistic about her future is the fact that at age 25, her best marathoning days are likely ahead of her. Among Saturday’s finishers, only six other runners ahead of her were age 25 or younger.

Petrick says she plans to take a break from marathons and hopes to make the next trials in 2016. In the meantime, she’ll continue to train and seek a full-time job in her master’s degree in public health. Petrick also confirmed she will compete in this year’s Gasparilla Distance Classic 15k race, slated for early March.

In the men’s race, Lakeland’s Jeremy Criscione, last year’s winner of the Gasparilla Distance Classic 15k and himself a former Gators star, was 59th in 2:20:57.

For the first time ever in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, both the men’s and women’s races were staged on the same site on the same day. With near-ideal conditions, the results were two of the fastest races in the trials’ history.

The top three men and women in each race earned the right to represent Team USA in this summer’s London Games. For the women, Shalane Flanagan turned in a trials record of 2:25:38 in only her second marathon, while Meb Keflezighi, who is a regular visitor to Tampa because this is where his wife used to live, earned his third Olympic berth with a winning men’s time and personal best of 2:09:08.

Taking second in the men’s race was another former Gasparilla winner, Ryan Hall of Flagstaff, Ariz., in 2:09:30. Abdi Abdirahman if Tucson was a surprising third in 2:09:47. He entered the trials with the 14th-fastest qualifying time and hadn’t run sub-2:14 since setting his personal best of 2:08:56 nearly five years ago. Instead, he has bounced back from nagging injuries to make his fourth Olympic squad at age 34.

Dathan Ritzenhein of Portland, the top American finisher at the 2008 Olympic marathon in Beijing, was a heartbreaking fourth, just eight seconds behind Abdirahman in third. At the finish, Ritzenhein knelt with his head in his hands.

Today’s race was the first time ever four men ran under 2:10 at the U.S. trials. It was the first time five women ran sub-2:30 at the trials. The women’s top-three have all medaled in either New York, Boston or both. The men’s top three represent the oldest trio Team USA has ever sent to the Olympics. They average an age of 33 and have a combined 9 Olympic appearances among them.

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