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10K Tegenkamp Comes From Behind to Join Team USA in London

6/22/2012
 
It couldn't have rained harder during the Men’s 10K final in Eugene at 6:45pm on the first day of competition at Hayward Field. Matt Tegenkamp held tight in a three-man pack with Galen Rupp and Dalen Ritzenhein for the last half of the race. Qualifying for a spot on the USA Olympic Team was all but guaranteed, and Tegenkamp solidified his place when he pulled into second ahead of Ritzenhein, with an A Standard time of 27:33.94.

Hailing from the Midwest, Tegenkamp is used to competing in a little more heat and humidity. “When I stepped out and saw that it was pouring rain, I wasn't the most excited person in the world.” Even though he’s lived in Oregon for three and a half years, and competed for the University of Wisconsin-Madison in college, Tegenkamp “is a terrible cold-weather runner. My hands and forearms can just get really really tight really easy. That's why I was layered up.” Knowing what Oregon’s summers can be like, and knowing what his body needs, Tegenkamp was prepared to run his race by wearing arm sleeves and gloves to keep himself warm, comfortable and relaxed.

Getting to this point in his career has been hard-won, with injuries and mental setbacks along the way. “It’s been up and down, but I’ve always been there when it counted.” Despite all he’s been through, Tegenkamp was able to perfectly execute his strategy in order to earn his spot on Team USA.

Rupp and Ritzenhein started to break away from the rest of the field around 5,000 meters and Tegenkamp saw his window. “Dathan and Galen made a few moves in there where there was enough of a gap that you could see people were starting to hurt. I’m great for running from the back and that's what I did today. I knew once they went they weren’t going to turn back.” Tegenkamp went with them when they separated themselves from the rest and stayed there with seven laps to go, kicking it into high gear at the 400 meter mark.

With a personal best of 27:28.22, Tegenkamp finished second with one of his fastest times to date. “I knew this was the race I was focusing on all year and then the Olympics. I hope this race cemented my legacy in the sport.”

When asked what he thought of his past mistakes and challenges, Tegenkamp only had eyes for the future: “You’ve always just got to keep looking forward, you can’t look back at the past. You’ve always gotta look forward to the next big thing.”

The next big thing for Matt Tegenkamp is the London Olympics.

Contributed by Amber James


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