ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE's Annie Rodenfels qualified for the upcoming USATF Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR with her impressive 9:46.98 victory in the 3000-meter Steeplechase. On a cloudy and windy Saturday morning, Annie took the lead from the gun on the brand new Beynon track surface at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Her goal was to run under the 9:50.00 qualifying standard that would provide an automatic-qualifier to be included in the field of top women steeplechasers at the new Hayward Field in Tracktown USA in late June.
Rodenfels covered the first full lap of the race, which includes 35 wooden hurdles, 7 of which have a water pit, in a brisk 72 seconds and had already put a gap of 30 meters on the remainder of the field. Midway through the race, veteran public address announcer Dave Milner informed those in attendance that Rodenfels was on pace to take the current USA lead in the event. ON Athletics Club's Leah (O'Connor) Falland, a 2-time NCAA DI champion while at Michigan State, has the fastest 2021 USA time of 9:44.73. However, Annie slowed slightly over the next laps before rallying with a 76-second final circuit. Her time was a personal best by over ten seconds and was basically a solo effort as the runner-up's time was 10:57.37. Annie's performance is now the third fastest in the USA during 2021--only behind Falland's time and Hannah Steelman (9:46.35) of NC State.
Annie is the eighth ASICS GTC-ELITE athlete to qualify for a USATF Olympic Trials and the first to do so on the track. The previous seven were at the marathon distance.
GTC-ELITE was established in 2012. The program produced four qualifiers for the 2016 USA Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles, one qualifier/participant for the 2019 Pan American Games Marathon in. Lima, Peru, three qualifiers/two participants for the 2020 USA Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta, GA and now one for the 3,000-meter Steeplechase in 2021 at Eugene, OR. Also, the group set four South Carolina State road race records in 2020 (5K, 15K and Half Marathon). The post-collegiate, Olympic development program is sponsored by ASICS, the 49-year-old Greenville Track Club, Joy Real Estate (Adopt an Athlete partner), the Borch Foundation, generous individual contributors and partnerships with Performance Therapy, Carolina Spine and Rehab, Roll Recovery products, FinalSurge (on-line training log), The ATI Running Academy, ElliptiGO, NormaTec Recovery Boots, Cocoa Elite recovery products, Stryd Running, Coach Bob Williams Pace Calculator, the DorsiFlex (stretching device), the MOBO board (balance & mobility), On Pace Wellness (nutrition coaching) and LEVER Running (treadmill body weight support). The club is a proud and active member of both the Road Runners Club of America and USATF.