Photo: Belmont Ellie Shea doing what Ellie Shea does: win the 3000-meter at the U20 Nationals
An hour after running away from the field to win the 1500 meters national title, Belmont’s Ellie Shea decided, why not add the 3000-meter crown to her weekend trip to Eugene, Oregon?
Ten minutes later, the 17-year-old raising Belmont High School senior held off a former teammate and will be coming home with a pair of national titles in an impressive 60 minutes of racing at the 2023 USATF U20 Outdoor National Championships on Sunday, July 9.
The Emerging Elite Club runner is one of only three double winners at the US Outdoor Nationals, along with JaiCieonna Gero-Holt, who won the heptathlon and high jump, and Christian Miller, who took the sprint double, winning the men’s 100 and 200.
With the victory in the 1500 meters, Shea qualifies to represent the US in the upcoming Pan American U20 Championships held in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Aug. 4-6. If she competes, it will be the second time Shea will represent the USA on the international stage, having been a member of the U20 women’s team at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in February, coming home from Australia with a bronze medal.
Shea started her week on Thursday, July 6, running with the pros in the first heat of the Women’s National 1500 meters, a race – which included 800 meters world champion Athing Mu – the recent 11th grader led through 800 meters. But the field soon showed its class in the final 300 meters as Ellie finished 11th in 4:20.99.
While Shea was scheduled to run four events, she finally took to the track at Hayward Field in the 1500 meters against two newly-minted champions, Angelina Napoleon (3000-meter steeplechase) and Sophia Gorriaran (800 meters) from the Moses Brown School in RI. But it wasn’t a race as it followed the leader with Shea out in front from the start, stretching her lead to five seconds at the midway point over Gorriaran and Napoleon. Shea maintained her 30-meter lead until the final 300 when Harvard commit Gorriaran used her outstanding sprint speed to eat into the lead but came up short as Shea broke the tape in 4:19:58.
About an hour later, Shea would change tactics and tuck into the lead pack in the 3000 meters, which included University of Michigan’s Rylee Tolson and Zariel Macchia, a rising high school junior from New York who was Shea’s teammate on the history-making US team at the World Cross Country Championships.
With 600 meters remaining, Tolson upped the tempo. In the curve after the bell, Shea passed on the outside and held off the collegian coming off the backstretch. With Tolson fading, Macchia charged down the final straight, cutting into Shea’s lead with every stride but could not catch the Belmontian, who finished in 9:46.56 to win by a second.
As one of the commentators on the USATF.TV webcast said about Shea on Sunday: “That is a long day but a good one.”