EUGENE, Ore. - Four years ago, Gabriele Anderson Grunewald came away from the U.S. Olympic Trials determined to return for another shot at making the Olympic team.
Sunday afternoon, after finishing a distant last in the 1,500-meter finals, Grunewald said she's not even certain if she will run again this year. As for next year and beyond ...
"Maybe it's time to have a baby. I just turned 30," the Perham native said with one of her frequent smiles.
Grunewald, running for Brooks, finished 14 seconds behind first-place Jenny Simpson of New Balance in 4:18.73.
"It's deflating," Grunewald said.
Just as she did Thursday and Friday, Grunewald stayed in the back of the pack Sunday. Unlike the first two races, she was unable to stage a sensational kick. Running four races in four days, including a poor showing in the 5,000 Thursday prior to her first 1,500, seemed to take a toll.
"I basically don't have 15 hundred running in my legs at all this season," said Grunewald, who thought the 5,000 was her best bet for making her first Olympic team. "I was praying and hoping I would feel good."
Grunewald stayed at the back of a tightly bunched pack until she quickly lost ground with two laps to go when other runners picked up the pace at Hayward Field.
"Through 800 meters, I was still optimistic, but I was struggling when I tried to change gears and go with the pack when everyone started ramping it up," Grunewald said.
Grunewald said she may run in Europe this summer and/or enter some road races in the United States in the fall. She said her focus "probably" will be on the 5,000 in the future.
Grunewald finished one place short of an Olympic berth when she came in fourth in the 1,500 at the 2012 Trials. She said it's "really deflating" to have missed out on the Olympics one more time. Maybe for the last time.
"I don't know if I'll be back at the Olympic Trials ... the Olympics definitely aren't everything," she said. "I enjoy competition. I enjoy racing. It's definitely a highlight for all of us.
"I wish the best for all the Americans who made it, but there's a lot of great American athletes who will never be Olympians."
Grunewald, a former Minnesota Gophers standout, has overcome two battles with cancer. She's not ruling out a running career as a mother, but she was in no rush to make a decision Sunday.
"As a cancer survivor," she said, "I don't want to put life off."
Grunewald wasn't the only athlete with local ties who struggled Sunday.
Former North Dakota State star Leslie Brost failed to clear the opening height of 14 feet, 5 1-4 inches in the pole vault finals. The best of her three attempts was the last one, when she barely brushed the bar on her way down.
Jenn Suhr, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, won her 10th national outdoors title with a 15-9 vault.