For Kim Conley, Saturday’s Sacramento Running Association Hall of Fame and Annual Achievement Awards dinner was chance to say thanks.
Conley knows that without the support — and financial backing — of the SRA, she may never have realized her Olympic dream.
That support allowed her to focus exclusively on training for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., where the former UC Davis standout made the most of her opportunity.
Conley, a 2009 UCD graduate who is an assistant coach for the Aggies, ran a 15:19.79 to edge crowd favorite Julia Lucas (15:19.83) and Abbey D’Agostino (15:19.98) in a dramatic race for third place in the women’s 5,000 meters and just beat the Olympic “A” standard of 15:20:00 needed to compete in the 2012 Games.
In London, Conley recorded a personal best of 15:14.48 in the preliminaries but failed to advance to the final.
“Thanks to SRA, 2012 was a breakout year for me and allowed me to realize an incredible dream in making the Olympic team,” said Conley, who nearly quit competitive running after leaving UCD. “What’s even better is, it has set the stage for the future, and with our continued partnership I’m hoping to become a competitive athlete on the world stage in 2013 and beyond.”
Conley received the Athlete of the Year award (open division) on Saturday night at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento, where the SRA also honored several other runners with local ties.
DHS graduate Brendan Gregg — who took 13th in the 5,000 meters at the 2012 NCAA championships while running for Stanford — was the organization’s Men’s College Track Athlete of the Year.
Another former Blue Devil, Trevor Halsted, joined UCD teammate Sarah Sumpter and Agge coach Drew Wartenberg in receiving the top cross country awards. Halsted, a freshmen, earned All-West Regional honors after taking 20th at the NCAA regional, and Sumpter was all-region for her 13th-place finish.