Kerri Gallagher exceeded her own expectations at the U.S.A. Track and Field Outdoor Championships, moving her closer to putting her name among the world’s best runners.
“For the final, on paper, it didn’t look like I would place very well,” Gallagher said. “If you had asked me before the race, I would have been thrilled to be in the top half with how strong a field we were in.”
Gallagher, who races for team Oiselle and the New York Athletic Club, surprised herself and her competition by finishing third in the elite field of the 1,500 meters, with a time if 4:15.81 in Eugene, Ore. on June 28.
It was just 0.95 seconds behind champion Jennifer Simpson (4:14.86). With the third-place finish, the former Fordham University and Bishop Kearney star qualified for the World Championships in Beijing, China.
“In a field like we had at the US championships for both the prelims and the finals, I was very surprised and so happy with the outcome,” said Gallagher, who graduated from Fordham in 2011.
Gallagher qualified for the final by placing third in her heat in the prelims with a time of 4:08.70, which was tied for the second fastest in the qualifying round. The pace changes with each race and quicker ones in the prelims allowed her to post her best time.
“With championship racing, you never know what to expect,” the Belle Harbor native said. “In my heat of the prelims, we went out at a good pace and ended up running pretty fast times. The other two heats were much more tactical and ended up being more like the final.”
Gallagher’s time at the US Championships didn’t meet the standard mark of 4:06.50, and would have kept her from running for Team USA in Beijing. But it didn’t take long for her to surpass it, and punch her ticket to the World Championships beginning on Aug. 22.
Gallagher won the 1500 at the XXVI Meeting Internazionale di Atletica Leggera in Italy on July 7 in a meet record time of 4:03.56. The time broke the mark of 4:04.82, set by American Gabrielle Anderson in 2012.
“I don’t know what to say, honestly,” Gallagher said of clinching her World Championship spot. “I am just so happy and so blessed to be supported by amazing people. Looking forward to worlds.”
With a third place finish in the U.S.A. Track and Field Outdoor Championships, Gallagher got a step closer to her ultimate goal of competing in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. But for now, she is focused on the World Championships in China.
“My focus is on this summer and finishing this season,” Gallagher said. “While Olympic Trials is the long-term goal, making this year’s World Championship team is my main priority, and that is what I will be training and racing for.”