Krissy Gear has a shot at making the Olympics this weekend, even though she admits it’s a long shot.
And that’s OK.
Gear isn’t approaching USA Track & Field’s Olympic Team Trials with the hyper-competitiveness that made her a four-time All-American this season. Gear is being realistic – she knows her times likely aren’t going to earn her a trip to Tokyo next month.
Instead, the Fort Myers High School graduate sees her first trip to the trials as a chance to learn and to grow. She also wants to have fun and build some momentum as she enters her redshirt senior year running for the University of Arkansas.
“For me, this is a ‘have fun’ sort of meet,” Gear told The News-Press in a telephone interview from Eugene, Oregon. “Hopefully in the next couple years I’ll have different goals, bigger goals. This is setting me up, preparing me for what that will look like.”
Gear is competing in the 1,500 meters and the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the trials. The first round of the 1,500 is Friday night, while the first round of the steeplechase is Sunday.
The top three runners in each event make the U.S. Olympic team. Gear is ranked 17th in the steeplechase. Her qualifying time (9:38.62) is 36 seconds behind No. 1 and 27 seconds behind No. 3.
In the 1,500, Gear did not meet the trials qualifying standard of 4 minutes, 6 seconds. However, not enough runners hit the standard, so Gear made the trials by having one of the top 30 times (4:08) in the country. Seedings for the 1,500 were not available.
Gear qualified for the steeplechase in April. However, she didn’t find out she made the trials in the 1,500 until Sunday, just five days before the event.
“I was very excited because I prefer the (1,500) over the steeple,” Gear said. “I have a lot more fun in that event. … It’s just cool to be running in the trials in any event.”
The trials cap off an exciting spring for Gear, who was a six-time state champion at Fort Myers before graduating in 2017.
In March, Arkansas won its second straight NCAA Indoors Championships, with Gear earning two silver medals. On Saturday, Gear placed fifth in the 1,500 at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
This year, her second at Arkansas after transferring from Furman, Gear has earned All-America honors four times – in cross country, at outdoor nationals (1,500) and twice at indoor nationals (mile, medley relay).
Gear stayed in Eugene at the conclusion of NCAA nationals and has been enjoying the area this week with her family. Her father and step-mother, Brian and Shari, as well as her younger sisters Lilly, 20, and Gabby, 16, are with her.
After the grind of the spring track season, in which Gear was moving houses between regionals and nationals, the former Greenie is happy for some down time before she gets to compete on national TV this weekend.
“It’s been lots of fun but lots of stress,” Gear said of the past few weeks. “I felt like everything was go, go go. It’s easier now to find that calm since I get a breather. Eugene is gorgeous. It’s easy to enjoy.
“I feel like I’m on vacation, but I get to do my favorite hobby on the side which is run around the track with a couple of my best friends. It’s probably going to be the best summer of my life.”