Rookard, Lehman win titles on ice at US nationals
Olympian Jilleanne Rookard won the women's 3,000 meters and Emery Lehman took the men's 5,000 on Thursday on the opening day of the U.S. Long Track National Championships.
Rookard was timed in 4 minutes, 11.88 seconds over 7 1/2 laps at the Utah Olympic Oval. Maria Lamb, a 2006 Olympian, finished second at 4:12.61. Petra Acker was third in 4:13.94, a personal-best.
"I still get just as nervous competing at nationals," said Rookard, who competed in the 2010 Vancouver Games. "I think I get even more nervous than I do at a World Cup because this is a qualifying event and it sets the stage for the rest of the season. There is a lot at stake."
Lehman, a 16-year-old, set a personal best in winning the 12½-lap men's race in 6:27.06. Jonathan Kuck finished second at 6:27.14 and Patrick Meek was third in 6:30.39.
"This is probably my strongest race," Lehman said. "My 500 meters isn't the best so I needed to do really well in this race. I did better than I thought so that will set me up for the 500."
The Winter World Cup and world sprint teams will be decided on the final day of the meet Monday.