EUGENE, Oregon — North Yarmouth native Ben True finished fifth and Bangor native Riley Masters placed 16th in the 5,000-meter final of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Saturday night and failed to gain one of the top three spots on the U.S. team for the Rio Games.
Bernard Lagat ran the last lap of the 12 ½-lap race in 52.82 seconds to finish first with a time of 13:35.50 in the 16-man field at Hayward Field. He will be joined on the Olympic team by Hassan Mead, who placed second in 13:35.70 and Paul Chelimo, who finished third in 13:35.92.
True finished in 13:36.40 in his second of two events at the Trials. He placed 11th in the 10,000-meter run on Friday, July 1, but the 5,000 was his preferred distance and he has a reputation of a great closer in that event.
He did stay in contention throughout the race but didn’t have enough to catch the final leaders and gain one of the coveted top three spots, running the last lap in 53.95.
I didn’t have the closing speed I needed,” True said in an interview with letsrun.com.
“I thought I put myself in good position with 400 to go and I went,” he added “And Hassan and Lagat caught back up and passed me. I tried to keep going and I just didn’t have anything.’
Masters was seeded 14th in the race and slipped to 15th after the first lap and then 16th on the next lap, finishing with a time of 14:18.49.
Masters is a former Bangor High running star who then went to the University of Maine where he was a two-time All-American in the indoor mile as well as a two-time America East cross-country champion.
He transferred to the University of Oklahoma in January 2012 and went on to earn All-American status for the Sooners in the distance medley relay as well as win the Big 12 1,500-meter championship and go on to set a school record for that distance of 3:37.19.
True, who was a running standout at Greely High in Cumberland, is a former Dartmouth College running and Nordic skiing All-American who now lives and trains in Hanover, New Hampshire.
True’s wife Sarah has qualified for the Olympics in the triathlon.
Kenya-born Lagat, 41, is a seven-time USATF outdoor champ in the 5,000. He won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics and a silver in the 2004 Games, both in the 1,500-meter run, for Kenya.
Lagat stayed in the middle of the pack throughout Saturday’s race and sprinted up from the sixth position on the 11th lap to earn the first-place finish.
“I train with young guys and I don’t believe I am old,” said Lagat. “If you believe you are old, I am going to run like an old man.”
Lagat had represented Kenya for his first two Olympic teams and now will be going for a third Games with the U.S.
True was in third place on laps 10 and 11 in a strategic race in which the first few laps were run at a slower pace.
“Hats off to the guys who ran well today,” he said. “It’s not the week I wanted here.”
Galen Rupp, a silver medalist at the 2012 London Games in the 10,000-meter run, surged to the lead and held it for laps 9, 10 and 11 before falling to ninth.
He has already qualified for the Rio Games in the marathon and 10,000 meters.