Qualifying for the Olympics is the pinnacle of what you can achieve in this sport. Some would argue that it shouldn't be and that World Championships are just as important, or maybe even more important. But there's just something special about an event that's only held every four years and the entire world tunes in to watch it. And while every country has their own selection process for this event, I would argue nobody does it better than the United States when we hold our Olympic Team Trials. the trials for the track and field team will be held later this year as we get closer to the event. But because the marathon takes so long to recover from and prepare for the next one, the trials for this event has to be held much earlier, in this case over 6 months before the Olympic games. I was out on the course in Atlanta four years ago when the Atlanta Track Club hosted this event and it was one of the most fun experiences I've had as a fan of the sport. Seeing them run by several times in person while watching the race unfold on my phone was so enjoyable. And then meeting all of the athletes as they walked form the finish area back to the hotel was really cool too. I got plenty of pictures and autographs. And Galen Rupp even let one of my runners take a picture wearing the gold medal he had won. It was truly a magical experience and you could tell it meant so much to all of the athletes who competed. Even many of the ones who were disappointed with their result were able to smile when they greeted us fans. And that's because of the magic of the event.
Several former Georgia athletes will get to toe the line in Orlando this weekend. And while they may not be the top contenders for this event, they've certainly end the right to get some attention. This is not an easy event to qualify for. I takes years and years of hard training and dedication just to get to this starting line. And not all of them have had an easy path to get there. But let's take a moment and look back on their high school careers to see where they started. Their high school times may surprise you in some cases. And hopefully that will inspire some of you to put in the work for years to reach this level in 2028 or 2032.
For a full list of qualifiers and their MileSplit profiles, see this article.
Photo by Jonathan Speights of Geha at the state XC meet in 2013
Geha ran for Benedictine Military and graduated back in 2014. Geha did run state Xc as a freshman, but only finshed 167th overall. He did show some early promise during track that year though as he broke 5 with PRs of 4:49 and 2:18 which definitely indicated he had some talent. He did not run state as a sophomore but ended the year with a PR of 17:16, which was almost a 2:00 improvement, and I'm guessing he has his offseason miles to thank for that. He made it to sectionals in track as a sophomore with PRs of 4:42 and 2:07. He broke 17 as a junior and won two races, running 16:34 at Savannah Christian Invite. Then he finally made his way back to the state meet in track season finishing 5th in the 1600 with a new PR of 4:37. He also qualified for the state XC meet again in the fall and finished 4th overall and followed that up with a season PR of 16:38 at footlocker south. He saved his best for last though as his senior year track season saw him run an indoor meet, finally try the 3200, and qualify for state in both the 1600 and 800 He finished high school with PRs of 1:59, 4:23, and 10:12 and finished 5th in the 800 and 2nd in the 1600. It was a very solid career that many would be proud of, but certainly not PRs that would immediately point to Olympic trials qualifier. He went on to run for Elon University in college and clearly worked hard after that as well. This is his first Olympic trials. See his trials bio here. Congrats to Sam and good luck!
Bridget is the oldest Georgia athlete at the trials, having graduated from Greenbrier back in 2006. And most of her running predates the MileSplit era so I don't have too many results on her. But she did finish 5th at the state cross country meet as a sophomore and then also placed 3rd as a senior. I'm sure there are more results from her out there but I don't have them. Either way it looks like she showed some talent early on and had some success, but wasn't quite the best in the state. It was a promising start that obviously ended in success as she gets to compete for a spot on the US Olympic team. But the fact that she's still doing the sport at a high level almost 20 years after graduating from high school. That's awesome dedication and should be celebrated by all. She ran in the 2016 trials and qualified for the 2020 trials but didn't run. See here trials bio here. Congrats to Bridget and Good luck!
Schaich graduated from Lambert back in 2011 and is probably the Georgia athlete who had the most success in High school who is competing. She enjoyed success early on after running 19:09 as a freshman, but didn't qualify for the state meet after finishing 9th at region. She had a breakthrough in track season that spring though as she ran 2:21/5:07/11:30 and finished state runner up in the 1600. the next fall she ran 18:13 and finished 7th at the state XC meet. She chose to focus more on the 800 that spring, which is funny to look back on considering she's now racing marathons, despite running 5:09 in the 1600 and finished 4th at the state meet in the 800 with a PR of 2:16. the next fall she was able to get four wins during XC season and a new PR of 18:04 and finished 3rd at state, breaking 19:00 on a slower version of the Carrolton Course. That spring she won her first state title as she moved up to the 3200 and broke 11 winning the 3200 in a PR of 10:53. She was runner up in the 1600 and ran a times of 5:01 and 2:22 in the 1600 and 800 respectively. She won 3 more races in the fall and broke 18 in her 3rd to last race winning her region meet in a time of 17:52, but still couldn't quite pull off the win in XC as she finished runner up to a very strong Anna Bowles. Senior year was the year of runner up finishes for her as she was 2nd in both the 1600 and 3200 at state despite running times of 10:58 and 4:59. She went on to compete for Rice University in college and would have a successful running career there as well, eventually moving up in distance after college to half marathon and marathons. It seems she's been consistently getting better and better every year of her career, something that's not easy to achieve. This is Allie's 2nd time running the trials after running it in 2020. See her trials bio here. Congrats to Allie and Good luck!
Peyton graduated from Roswell High School back in 2013. She didn't start running until she was a sophomore and didn't even break 20 in her first season. She placed 72nd at state though which nobody would complain about for a first year runner. Her PR of 20:20 doesn't jump off the page as something that would point to being a future Olympic Trials Qualifier, but it's obvious she put in the work over the years as she did improve in high school. She just barely missed getting out of region in the 800 that spring placing 5th and running PRs of 2:25 and 5:35. But her junior year in cross country was when she broke through with some big results. She was top ten in all but two of her races and finished 9th at the state meet before finishing her season with a PR of 18:55 at Footlocker. That spring she stepped up in distance on the track and found success in both the 1600 and 3200, placing 11th and 9th at the state meet in those events. She finished the year with PRs of 5:09 and 11:15. The next fall she showed alot of promise, but unfortunately was a DNF at the state meet. She was able to bounce back though at Footlocker and finish off high school XC with a PR of 18:06 in her last race. Unfortunately it would be a hard senior season all around for her as she placed 5th and 6th in her region track meet, which failed to advance to the state meet because of her tough region competition. She ran times of 5:16 and 11:15 that season. She did go on to run for Baylor University in college though and was able to compete at the Big 12 conference meet several times and even ran at the NCAA XC championships twice in her career. She's had her share of success and heartbreaks it seems, but clearly still loves the sport as she toes the line in Orlando this weekend with a chance to compete for a spot on team USA. Thomas also ran in the 2020 trials, see her trials bio here. Congrats to Peyton and good luck!
She's listed as Kidan Kidane, but I'm thinking she went by Lilly in high school when she ran for East Paulding. She also graduated in 2013 and started off her career on the track running the 400 and 800 her freshman year in times of 1:19 and 2:48, which certainly wouldn't indicate that she would reach this milestone. She ran XC as a sophomore and placed 51st at the state meet. She finished the season with a PR of 19:31 at Asics, but that was over a minute faster than any of her other times that season. She had a solid track season running 5:43 and 2:46, but didn't make the state meet. The next fall was her big jump though as she won two races and ended up going 18:46 at her region meet. But she was only 24th at the state meet which was probably a little disappointing for her given how her season had gone. She got her first podium finish that spring as she mostly focused on the 3200 and placed 7th at the state meet with a PR of 11:32. She broke 19 again as a senior and even won her region meet in a time of 19:10, but she seems to have struggled at Carrollton again as she was 87th overall at the state meet. She was able to finish off high school strong though as she placed state runner up in the 3200 that spring and finished 7th in the 1600. She finished high school with PRs of 5:16 and 11:21, running both of them at the state meet. She went on to compete for Kennesaw State in college where she ran for a couple of years and lowered her PR to 17:29 in the 5k. I guess she found her love of the long run at some point along the way if she's into doing marathons now. She certainly showed some talent in high school, but at no point would you think she would definitely make it to this level. It's only come for her after years of hard work after her academic career was over. This is her first time qualifying for the trials, see her trials bio here. Congrats to Lilly and good luck!
Note - If I missed anybody, I would love to include them so please send me an email to email@example.com and I'll add them when I get a chance.