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How (and Why!) to Watch the 2019 U.S.A. Track & Field Outdoor Championships

The fastest runners in the country are vying for spots on the world championships team during the competition in Des Moines, Iowa.

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The 2019 U.S.A. Track & Field Outdoor Championships take place July 25¬–28 in Des Moines, Iowa, when the country’s top talent will line up for a chance to represent the U.S. at the world championships in September.

That’s right. The Olympics aren’t the only time track and field offers up hot competition—the next four days are sure to showcase some close calls, big breakthroughs, and, of course a little drama, too.

The top three finishers in the final round of each event, who have clocked the world standard time, will earn a spot on Team USA, heading to Doha, Qatar, for the IAAF World Championships, beginning September 27.

Find the schedule of events and fields of entry here. And how to watch the NBC broadcast schedule here.

A few key women’s races you don’t want to miss:

Thursday: The 10,000 meters will likely become another Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson show. The training partners, who competed at the London Marathon in April, have the two fastest times coming in. Watch also for Marielle Hall, a 2016 Olympian and member of the Bowerman Track Club, who has the world qualifying standard. Other fan favorites in the field: Stephanie Bruce and Kellyn Taylor of Northern Arizona Elite.

Saturday: After a day of first rounds and semifinals at the outdoor championships on Friday, things will start getting interesting on Saturday. The women’s 1500-meter final is on tap and we’ll likely see Shelby Houlihan battling it out with Jenny Simpson at the front. Houlihan comes in with a season best of 3:59.64 to Simpson’s 3:59.83. The race for the third spot will be just as fascinating: Nikki Hiltz has momentum this season, while Houlihan’s Bowerman Track Club teammate Kate Grace has 800-meter speed in her legs. We can’t count out Alexa Efraimson, Corey McGee, Emily Lipari, or Helen Schlachtenhaufen, either.

The 3,000-meter steeplechase is also on Saturday. Watch for world champion Emma Coburn and American record holder Courtney Frerichs to reunite their ongoing rivalry. Now Frerich’s Bowerman training partner Colleen Quigley is also back in action after taking care of injuries. These three women are most likely to sweep the podium and head to Doha—they have dominated the event together for the past three years.

Sunday: It’s the last day of competition at the outdoor championships with final rounds galore, including what we think might be the most competitive race of the meet: the women’s 5,000 meters.

Houlihan and Simpson will return to the starting line, but even if (when?!) they take a top three spot, they will probably not compete in the event in Doha due to scheduling conflicts with the 1500 meters. That means that even the fourth or fifth women could make the team.

Plenty of entrants have the chops to do it. Karissa Schweizer, also a Bowerman member, is a good bet and it’s likely she’ll work with Houlihan throughout the race. Hall is doubling back after the 5,000 meters, too. And watch for two-time Olympian Kim Conley, who posted a 15:05.20 earlier this season. Rachel Schneider, who has the standard and a collection of impressive performances in 2019. Vanessa Fraser may also find a boost in having her Bowerman teammates there to pull her to a breakthrough.