Bruin Great Meb Keflezighi Qualifies For USA Men's Marathon Team

Feb. 7, 2004

Alan Culpepper, Meb Keflezighi and Dan Browne qualified for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team by finishing 1-2-3 Saturday at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon in Birmingham, AL. The Trials were presented by USA Track & Field, the Alabama Sports Foundation and Birmingham Marathon, Inc.

Culpepper (Lafayette, Colo.), Keflezighi (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) and Browne (Portland, Ore.) all passed then leader Brian Sell (Rochester Hills, Mich.) in the 21st mile. Culpepper held a small lead for the next two miles over Keflezighi before winning the race in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 42 seconds, a five-second winning margin over Keflezighi. Browne finished in third place in 2:12:02, with Trent Briney setting a personal best by 8 minutes, 35 seconds, with his time of 2:12:35. Culpepper's performance is the second fastest Trials winning time ever, second only to Tony Sandoval's Trials record of 2:10:19 in Buffalo, N.Y., on May 24, 1980.

In winning the second marathon of his career and qualifying for his second Olympic team (10,000m in 2000), Culpepper won $60,000 in prize money, with Keflezighi taking home $35,000 and Browne pocketing $25,000 out of a total prize purse of $193,000. For participating in the Olympic marathon in Athens, Culpepper will earn an additional bonus of $25,000, Keflezighi will take home $22,500 and Browne will earn $20,000.

The race began at 9:03 a.m., local time, with 86 entrants answering the starting gun under cloudy skies and a temperature of 35 degrees, with winds averaging 12 m.p.h.

Top 20 Finishers (13 of the 71 finishers in the race set personal bests)
1.        Alan Culpepper (Lafayette, Colo.), 2:11:42
2.        Meb Keflezighi (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.), 2:11.47
3.        Dan Browne (Portland, Ore.), 2:12:02
4.        Trent Briney (Rochester Hills, Mich.), 2:12:35
5.        Clint Verran (Rochester Hills, Mich.), 2:14:37
6.        Scott Larson (Superior, Colo.), 2:15:03
7.        Josh Cox (Murrieta, Calif.), 2:15:18
8.        Eddy Hellebuyck (Albuquerque, N.M.), 2:15:36
9.        Peter Gilmore (Menlo Park, Calif.), 2:15:44
10.        Jason Lehmkuhle (St. Paul, Minn.), 2:16:27
11.        Keith Dowling (Reston, Va.), 2:16:50
12.        Kevin Collins (Albuquerque, N.M.), 2:17:00
13.        Brian Sell (Rochester Hills, Mich.), 2:17:20
14.        Fred Kieser (Cleveland, Ohio), 2:17:21
15.        Scott Strand (Birmingham, Ala.), 2:17:44
16.        Steven Moreno (Oakland, Calif.), 2:17:48
17.        Corey Creasey (Berkeley, Calif.), 2:17:58
18.        Scott Nicholas (Portland, Ore.), 2:18:13
19.        Conor Holt (Norman, Oklahoma), 2:18:17
20.        Chris Banks (Alexandria, Va.), 2:18:56 

Meb Keflezighi: A member of Team USA California, in the last three years, Keflezighi, 28, has established himself as the top U.S. distance runner from 10 to 15 km, winning two U.S. cross country titles, two 10,000m championships and three U.S. 15 km road titles and setting the American record at 10,000m of 27:13.98 in 2001. Born in Eritrea, Keflezighi's family moved to the U.S. when he was 12 and he became a U.S. citizen in 1998. Despite battling the flu, Keflezighi placed 12th in the men's 10,000 meters at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He trains at altitude (7,500 feet) at Mammoth Lakes, Calif., running 80-100 miles a week, and sometimes trains with U.S. women's distance ace Deena Kastor (formerly Drossin). A 1998 graduate of UCLA, where he was a four-time NCAA champion, Keflezighi's career best in the marathon is 2:10:03 at Chicago in 2003. Keflezighi's coach is Bob Larsen, who was the Bruin men's track and field head coach from 1985-99.

Meb Keflezighi: "I want to give my respect to Brian Sell for making the race happen. We all tried to get up there and catch up to him. I really respect what he did and he ran a great race. I'm happy it worked out the way it did and I'm happy to be on the team.

About overcoming a recent bout with the flu and tendonitis to make the team: Around mile 15 I had a little bit of a side ache and that was a problem and I knew I had to push hard to try to make the team. I didn't break 100 (miles per week) training for this, but I've trained for other events like New York and Chicago and I've been training for 14 or 15 years and that helped me here. It was tough and now I'm looking forward to Athens".


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