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Adam Jude / Special to The Forum, Published June 29 2012

Perham's Anderson advances to 1,500 finals at U.S. Track Trials

EUGENE, Ore. – Admittedly, Gabriele Anderson didn’t have her prettiest race Friday, but she did enough to move on to the women’s 1,500-meter final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

Now it gets complicated for the former University of Minnesota standout.

For the second straight day, Anderson finished in second place in her heat, this time in a physical semifinal on Friday. Her time of 4 minutes, 10.08 seconds was the seventh-fastest time overall after both semifinals of the 1,500.

The final is set for 6:23 p.m. CDT Sunday.

To make her first U.S. Olympic Team and punch her ticket to London next month, Anderson will not only need to finish in the top three in Sunday’s final – against a stacked field – but she will also have to hit the Olympic “A” standard of 4:06.00.

She came up just short of that standard earlier this year when she ran a personal-best 4:06.46.

“It (the time) is definitely something I’m thinking about, for sure. I think I’m capable of running a sub-4:06,” said Anderson, a 2004 Perham (Minn.) High graduate. “My training and racing has kind of indicated that it’s there; I just haven’t hit it in the right race.”

She’s confident Sunday will be the right time and place.

“I don’t exactly know how tactically I’m going to approach it,” she said. “I just need to be aware of the clock from the first 200, 300 meters, and if it’s going slow, something’s going to have to change – and that might be me.”

She said she learned something from Friday’s semifinal, when she found herself in the very back of the pack early on.

“It was an erratically paced race,” she said. “We went out really fast, then we slowed down a lot and then we really picked it up at the end. And those races get ugly, because everyone’s bunched up, and then it’s frantic. I was bumping people, and that’s just racing sometimes. It’s not the way you want to run – you’d rather get a clean run in – but that’s what happens in the rounds. It makes it exciting.”

After a few hundred meters, Anderson pushed up and settled into the middle of the pack.

With about 400 meters to go, she was still in sixth place – the top five automatically advanced to the final – and knew she needed to make a move.

“It was kind of an ugly race,” Anderson said. “I panicked a little bit with 400 to go, so that was not the best move to make. I don’t think I ran that very well tactically, but I’m through and hopefully onto a smarter race on Sunday.”

With about 200 to go, she was still in fifth place, but knew she still had some kick left. After the final turn, she maneuvered through and surged into second place, finishing behind Shannon Rowbury (4:09.96). In the first semifinal, reigning world champion Morgan Uceny had the top overall time of 4:08.90.

“I’ve been trying to keep myself in contention in these races so I can use that kick in the end, and it’s meaningful,” Anderson said. “I’ve always had a kick, but sometimes I’m too far off in the race for it to really matter a ton. But this year I’ve been working on moving to the front sooner, and not wait until the final 100. It’s definitely good.”

On Sunday, she’ll need it to be great.