Oregon's Rupp trying for big finish to superb season

Oregon's Galen Rupp, right, followed by Arkansas' Shawn Forrest, back left, acknowledges the crowd as he crosses the finish line to win the 10,000 meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., Thursday.<BR><I>AP?Photo</I>

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - There are times Galen Rupp looks as if he's toying with opponents.

After running patiently next to two other leaders in the 10,000 meters Thursday night, Rupp pulled away with a devastating finish to win the national title. He also gave Oregon 10 crucial points in its pursuit of the team title at the NCAA track and field championships.

"I just sat back and tried to bide my time," Rupp said. "And when it was time to go, I made my move."

Rupp has been making it look easy throughout his senior season. He's also won individual national titles incross country and the indoor 3,000 and 5,000.

His grueling three-race program this week began in the wee hours Thursday morning, after his 5,000 semifinal was delayed by a lightning storm. His qualifying heat ended around 1 a.m.

Despite having less than 24 hours between races, he had plenty of energy left for the 10,000. Arkansas' Shawn Forrest and Liberty's Sam Chelanga set the pace early, but Rupp caught them, then left them behind with about 600 meters to go. He finished in 28 minutes, 21.45 seconds.

"I knew he would respond, because it certainly slowed down towards the end," Forrest said. "It was no surprise. I chased as hard as I could."

Rupp went to the Beijing Olympics last year and was the top American in the 10,000, finishing 13th. As part of his training, Rupp has run shorter races to work on his speed.

"He's been running lots of different races across the board - all different events," coach Vin Lananna said. "He's run eights. He's run lots of 1,500s, and he's improved on all of his performances."

In February, Rupp was in Fayetteville for the Tyson Invitational and set an American indoor record in the 5,000. The NCAA outdoor meet is a few minutes up the road at John McDonnell Field.

Rupp trains with his own personal coach, distance great Alberto Salazar. The two have been working together since before Rupp joined the Ducks. Lananna calls the arrangement "a good partnership" - and it's hard to argue with the results.

Rupp and the Ducks are seeking a rare "Triple Crown" after winning men's team national titles in cross country and indoor track and field earlier this season. Rupp will compete in his final race of the meet - the 5,000 final - Friday night.

Oregon led the team standings at the end of the night with 20 points. Arkansas was second with 14. Florida led the women's standings with 13 points, one more than Florida State.

Rupp wasn't the only Oregon athlete to win Thursday. Ashton Eaton took the decathlon with 8,241 points, almost 200 more than second-place Mateo Sossah of North Carolina.

Eaton ran the final decathlon event - the 1,500 - after Rupp finished his 10,000.

"That was motivation for me," Eaton said. "I was like, 'He just did like 26 laps. I can do four."'

Thursday was the second day of the meet, and the first with any finals. Florida's Mariam Kevkhishvili took the first national title of the meet in the shot put. She won with a mark of 58 feet, 4 1/2 inches.

Arizona State's Ryan Whiting was the men's winner at 65-11 3/4.

Kimberly Williams of Florida State won the women's long jump at 21-5 1/2. Texas-El Paso's Blessing Okagbare, a bronze medalist in Beijing for Nigeria, finished eighth.

Ngonidzashe Makusha of Florida State took the men's long jump at 26-7 1/4.

Providence's Danette Doetzel won the women's 10,000 in 33:25.71.

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