Des Moines, IA. - Hope Bender (2019), Stephanie Bruce (2007), and Jenna Hinkle (2018) concluded their runs at the 2019 USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships this past weekend, with Bruce highlighting the Gaucho alumni effort with an excellent fourth place finish in the women's 10000m final this past Thursday in 32:09.99, a season's best by over 5 seconds and just one placing away from a qualifying spot for the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Current UC Santa Barbara Assistant Coach Jenna Hinkle, running for the Hoka Aggies, would start off the championships first in the women's 1500m on Thursday evening in heat one. Putting herself right in the mix, Hinkle kept contact with the leading group all the way up until the final lap, coming through the bell in 3:10. Her debut experience at the national championships would become apparent however as the primary contenders for the final would slowly pull away throughout the course of the last 400m. Hinkle would end up finishing tenth in her heat and seventeenth overall in the prelims with a time of 4:19.96, a good 12 spots ahead of her overall ranking going into the meet.
Stephanie Bruce, representing Hoka One One NAZ Elite, would be up next on Thursday night in the women's 10000m. Despite the majority of the field still needing the IAAF World Standard of 31:50.00 to qualify for the championships, a lack of interest in chasing the standard became apparent right away with an opening lap of 81 seconds, followed by an 88 second lap shortly after. Coming through the first 5000m in around 16:41, the tone of the race would change as eventual first and second place finishers, four time US 10000m champion Molly Huddle and two time Worlds Qualifier Emily Sisson, would press from the front to spread out the pellaton of runners circling around Drake Stadium.
Bruce, along with fellow training partner Kellyn Taylor, would shadow Sisson and Huddle up until the final kilometer, where Bruce would begin to fall off the leading group in the final stages of the race. Huddle would take her fifth US title with a 31:58.47 followed by Sisson in 32:02.19, overtaking Taylor in the final 100m who'd finish third in 32:02.74. With Stephanie Bruce taking fourth in 32:02.99, she'd cover her final 5000m in just over 15:30, an incredible feat considering she started off her 2019 season with a 15:44.77 5000m personal best back in January. Stephanie would also go on to finish ninth in the 5000m final Sunday night in 15:31.62, the second fastest 5000m of her career on the track.
Lastly, recent graduate and newly minted Santa Barbara Track Club member Hope Bender would be the final Gaucho to compete in the championships in the women's heptathlon starting Saturday afternoon and finishing Sunday evening. She would finish up the heptathlon amassing a score of 5824 points, the third highest point total in her career. Hope would immediately be welcomed to the professional stage in the heptathlon women's 100m hurdles on Saturday as her marquee scoring event would only net her 11th in the standings with a 13.78 clocking. A steadfast Bender would stay on track by posting up a 1.67m (5' 5 ¾") high jump, a 12.37m (40' 7") shot put, and a 24.27 200m clocking (sixth overall, her highest individual placing in a heptathlon event at the championships) to cap off her series on day one. For day two, she would finish off her first US Outdoor Championship meet with a 5.95m (19' 6 ¼") long jump, a 37.59 (123' 4") javelin, and a 2:14.49 800m.