Galen Rupp won five Oregon high school titles for Central Catholic high school in Portland including a famous stretch run defeat of current Stanford Cardinal Lauren Jesperson (Klamath Union). In the summer he ran an American high school and junior record in the 5,000 meters in a summer 2004 meet in Belgium (13:37.91) where he was a middle of the pack eleventh. This meet put him on the national map with track experts as a fast runner but not necessarily a champion. The former record by Franklin Sanchez of Georgetown, set in the 2001 Stanford Invite (third in 13:38.59), had broken the record by Duck legend and seven-time NCAA champ Steve Prefontaine in a rarely contested 5,000 meter (they used to run three miles instead) race that Prefontaine had barely lost in a dual meet against a West German Olympian.
Before his first Duck track season, Galen won the US junior cross country meet for his first national title. During his first track season (2005) with the Ducks, Galen ran an American junior record in the 10,000 meters (28:15.52) by being paced by Portland training mates. This performance broke former Duck legend and seven-time All-American Rudy Chapa's record from 1976 (28:32.7) by just over 17 seconds. Although this young, talented runner had run great times, he had not won a national race or beaten a tough group of competitors. The training that he did gave observers concerns about the likelihood of injury. National experts privately wondered whether he would be a champion or a potential burn-out victim under the tutelage of Duck legend Alberto Salazar. At the NCAA outdoor meet Galen ran the 10,000 meters. Early in the race Rupp made a daring push to control the race. 2004 NCAA 5,000 meter champ Robert Cheseret of Arizona ran closely behind Rupp and outkicked Galen with a lap to go. Galen was now close to proving he belonged with the elite runners.
The promise of 2005 led to the disappointment of 2005-2006. The 2005 cross country season ended early with a foot injury. Indoors, Galen was an All-American in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. The 2006 track season started late after a diagnosed thryroid condition sidelined him. The resulting exhaustion didn't clear up by the NCAA meet and ended up in an early exit in the 5,000 meters. Concerns about overtraining came up again and experts hinted we may have seen the last of Galen Rupp like Franklin Sanchez and other past record holders who burned out early. Those close to Oregon knew that the thyroid condition was real and that the 2006-2007 season would prove whether Galen would join the nation's elite distance runners.
Galen reemerged from his medical issues by winning his first Pac-10 title in cross country and finished sixth in the NCAA meet. Anticipation was high for the outdoor season after the encouraging cross country campaign and a successful indoor campaign highlighted by two All-American awards (third in 5k and fourth in 3k). One significant result during the season was the calm, controlled victory over 2006 NCAA 5,000 meter fourth placer, Obed Mutanya, at the MPSF championship 3,000 meters (school record 7:54.19). Every attempt by number one returner Mutanya to pass Rupp was rebuffed by an acceleration.
After two easy qualifying performances, the Stanford Invite 10k and the Pepsi Team Invite 5k, Galen went after a victory against defending NCAA 5,000 meter champ Chris Solinsky in the Oregon Invite Bill McChesney, Jr Memorial Twilight Men's 5,000 meters. With a lap to go Solinsky took off and had a thirteen meter lead with 150 meters to go in the race. Galen charged down the homestretch and mowed down the four-time NCAA champion (13:30.58) to break his three year old personal record and move to sixth on the all-time Duck list.
An early season stated goal was to get the Olympic Trials automatic qualifying standard of 27:45 for 10,000 meters. The fastest race in the country every year is the Cardinal Invitational 10,000 meters. Since 1999, 12 of the 15 fastest American times have been run at this meet including the American record by Mebrahtom Keflezighi (27:13.98 in 2001). An international cast of Olympians, world championships competitors and national class competitors (including 2006 US 10k champ Jorge Torres) awaited Galen Rupp in the premier event of the Payton Jordan Invitational. With 1200 meters to go he took the lead ahead of five international stars. Galen outkicked this stellar group with a 2:05 final 800 meters and 60 second final lap. Rupp ran 27:33.48, breaking the school record of Bill McChesney, Jr, 27:50.82 from 1982, the third fastest collegiate time ever behind Washington State Cougar legend Henry Rono (27:22.47 from 1978), bested the American collegiate record of Dathan Ritzenhein (27:38.50, 2004) and became the seventh fastest American ever.
This may be the year that Galen Rupp wins his first track championship at the Pac-10 and NCAA meets and moves one more step towards competing for medals on the international level.
|Personal Records and Regional Qualifiers|
|School Record, #3 all-time||Nicole Blood|
|American Collegian Record||16:27.41|
|Jared Huske||Lucy Cridland|