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Shelby Houlihan upsets Jenny Simpson at USATF Championships

Shelby Houlihan won both the 1,500m and 5,000m at the USATF Championships in Des Moines, Iowa this past weekend


Shelby Houlihan won both the 1,500m and 5,000m at the USATF Championships in Des Moines, Iowa this past weekend. 

Beyond winning double gold, Houlihan upset American track legend Jenny Simpson over 1,500m. Simpson is one of the most decorated American middle distance runners in history. She is a former world champion over 1,500m as well as an Olympic bronze medalist. Simpson is a nine-time USATF champion.

The 1,500m event at the USATF Championships has heats to qualify for the finals. Houlihan ran the 1,500m heats on Thursday, took Friday off, ran the 1,500m final on Saturday and capped it all off with a win over 5,000m on Sunday. That makes a total of 8,000m of tough racing in four days. 

RELATED: Simpson smashes American 2 mile record at Drake Relays

Simpson posted on Instagram post-race, “I played a King, but Shelby had the Ace.” Houlihan closed in a staggering 57 seconds, to beat Simpson to the line. The two women finished in 4:05.48 and 4:06.21. 


Houlihan is an Iowa native, Arizona State alumna, and currently trains with the Bowerman Track Club out of Portland, Oregon. The USATF Championships were hosted at the Drake Stadium located in Houlihan’s home state of Iowa. The Drake Stadium is particularly special to Houlihan, as it’s where she won many races as a high school runner. 

Houlihan is only the second woman in history to win both the 1,500m and 5,000m in the same year at the USATF Championships, other than Regina Jacobs who won both events in 1999 and 2000. 

Houlihan will reportedly focus on the 1,500m for the rest of the season as she feels, “more comfortable with the event.” Houlihan comes from a shorter distance background, having primarily raced the 800m and 1,500m in high school and college.


Other meet highlights were 800m victories by World Championship medalist Ajee Wilson and Olympic medalist Clayton Murphy, along with Evan Jager’s seventh consecutive USATF Championship win in the 3,000m steeplechase. Jager trains with Canadian steeplechaser Matt Hughes

Many American track athletes will either take their break from training and competition now, or continue to train for Diamond League competition, which continues into the early fall. 

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