2013-06-26 / Sports

Higginson makes the USA squad for World Track and Field Championships

By TIM MORRIS
Staff Writer


Former Colts Neck High School and Princeton University great Ashley Higginson will be representing the United States at the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia, on July 10-18. 
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY Former Colts Neck High School and Princeton University great Ashley Higginson will be representing the United States at the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia, on July 10-18. PRINCETON UNIVERSITY A shley Higginson figured she had an edge over her rivals at the USA Track and Field Championships.

The stakes were extremely high at the championships, held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. With a top-three finish, a runner would secure a spot on the USA team that is headed for the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 10-18.

Higginson, the former Colts Neck High School and Princeton University great, was running in the chase pack behind Nicole Bush during the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase finals on June 22, and she was reflecting on the memory of last year’s USA Olympic Trials, where she finished fourth, one place from making the U.S. team.

“I remember how it felt last year finishing in fourth place,” she said. “I used that to my advantage.”

Higginson, who now runs professionally for Saucony and the New Jersey-New York Track Club, knew that the women she was racing hadn’t experienced disappointment like hers before and wouldn’t have that extra fire burning inside them. The steeplechaser took the attitude, she explained, that she wasn’t going to be denied a second time.

She wasn’t. When it came time to race for home and a spot on the USA team, Higginson left everyone behind her. When she cleared the final hurdle jump, “I did know I was on the team.”

Higginson finished second behind Bush, 9:44.53-9:46.25, to make her first national team. She described her feeling as “awesome,” and it helped erase the memory of last year’s fourth-place finish that lingered all year. Making the national team, she pointed out, “is something special.”

The steeplechase finals couldn’t have gone any better for Higginson. It was 91 degrees when the finals went off. It was no time to be thinking about personal bests. Higginson said that it was too hot to risk chasing down one person (Bush). Instead, she bided her time in the lead pack, saving energy for the late-race push that would put her on the team. Higginson said the biggest difference between herself this year and last is the way she’s competing. She is past the time where just running for a personal best is enough.

“It was great running personal bests, but sometimes it’s an excuse for not competing,” she said.

She displayed her competitive chops in Des Moines.

If there was one thing that Higginson learned from last year’s Olympic Trials experience and other races that had her ranked No. 4 in the country, it was that she can compete with the nation’s best.

“This year, I’m running with more confidence,” she said. “Other people look at me as a threat.”

Now that she has made the World Championship team, she’ll definitely be on everyone’s radar.

Since the World Championships are not until August, Higginson will use the time to get some races in.

“I’m going to head over to Europe and run a couple of steeplechases,” she said.

She’s looking to run in

Lausanne (Switzerland),

Belgium and Monaco.

She’ll return home

(now New Brunswick) in mid-July for further training before heading off to Moscow in mid-August for the world championships.

There’s another reason that Higginson takes extra pride in making the national team. After devoting all of her time to running last year, she started law school at the Rutgers School of Law last fall. She was advised by many not to try and do both. She thought it was something she could do, and she recently completed her first year.

“I did something like this [making the national team] doing it my way.

Notes: Higginson’s 2007 Colts Neck classmate Craig Forys, who went on to star at the University of Michigan, qualified for the men’s steeplechase finals held on June 23. Forys, who now competes for the New York Athletic Club, finished eighth (9:36.86).

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