Bumbalough set for run at spot on U.S. Olympic track team

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 7:33pm

Andrew Bumbalough has the time he needs. He took care of that weeks ago.

Now, all he needs is the place.

The Brentwood Academy graduate is one of 16 runners set to compete in the men’s 5,000-meter final Thursday at the United States Olympic Track and Field trials (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network). He earned his spot in the field when he won his semifinal heat Monday over Galen Rupp, already the trials champion at 10,000 meters.

Franklin’s Kathy Kroeger, an Independence High School graduate, is in the women’s 5,000 final. Kroeger, who just finished her junior year at Stanford, was one of four qualifiers who made it based on her time in the semifinal heat, in which she finished seventh.

The top three finishers in each event final make the team for the London Games, provided they have met a minimum performance standard either prior to or during the meet.

“Obviously I have the ‘A’ standard and I’m here to make the team,” Bumbalough said Monday night. “I want to finish the best I can and get the highest possible and make that trip to London.”

Bumbalough, 25, got the time he needed when he ran 13:16.26 at the Payton Jordan Invite on April 29 at Palo Alto, Calif.

Since then, he has focused on this race and this meet. The 5,000 is the only event in which he is competing this week.

In addition to Rupp, Thursday’s final also will include Olympic medalist Bernard Legat and more than half a dozen runners who have met the "A" standard of 13:20.00.

“Everyone in that top seven is capable of making the team,” Bumbalough said recently in an interview with USA Track and Field. “[Lagat] has shown he is a world class medal threat. I think everyone else will be in a similar boat. [Rupp] will be coming off the 10,000m along with a couple other guys that might level the playing field.”

Bumbalough was a three-time state champion in cross country and set TSSAA records for 1,600 and 3,200 meters in outdoor track. He went to Georgetown where he was a six-time All-American and runner-up in the 3,000 meters at the 2008 NCAA indoor championships but also dealt with injuries that nearly derailed his professional career.

The 5,000 consistently has been his best event. In 2006, he won the national junior championship at that distance and last year competed for the U.S. at the World Championships in Daegu.

“With American distance running the depth has gotten so much greater,” he said. “…  We have to treat the Olympic Trials as if it is the Games because you have to be on your game to make the team.

“… It is so competitive this year. There will be some outstanding and even world class runners that will be left off the team.”

His hope, of course, is that he is not one of them.

“It would be a lifelong dream come true to make the team],” Bunbalough said. “That is something that has driven me throughout my career. A lot of athletes will say that, but it’s true. It’s such an amazing event. To say you are part of that group of athletes in amazing.

“It goes beyond being a track and field athlete; you are part of a movement that brings the world together. Representing the U.S. as a member of that team is something you will never forget. It is incredibly special.”