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High Country’s Cooper, Vestri go 2-3 in California women’s 5K, earning automatic Olympic Trials spots

By David Rogers. AZUSA PACIFIC, Calif. — Blowing Rock-based ZAP Endurance put another team member in the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials on April 12 — and the High Country poached two of the top three spots in the Bryan Clay Invitational Women’s 5K Invite race at Azusa Pacific University.

Distance running veteran Abbey Cooper finished second in the Women’s 5K Invite, just ahead of ZAP Endurance team member Amanda Vestri. Both athletes finished under the U.S. Olympic Trials ‘A’ qualifying standard of 15:15, Cooper breaking the finish line in 15:11.15 and Vestri stopping the clock in 15:13.38.  The University of Alabama’s international student from Kenya, Hilda Olemomoi, crossed the line in first place, 15:06.42.

Afterward the race, ZAP Endurance head coach Pete Rea said he was excited by Vestri’s progress and her potential in the Olympic Trials.

“I think Amanda can meet the Olympic Trials’ automatic qualifying standard in the 10K, too, and I would not hesitate in having her run both events at the Trials,” said Rea. “Her fitness level is very high right now.”

Rea said that Vestri is one of three ZAP endurance members he will be taking to a race near London, England, in May, the “Night of the 10K PBs,” in Highgate.

Both Vestri and Cooper are now Boone residents. Cooper (D’Agostino) is one of the current elder statesmen of USA Track & Field at the 5K distance, where she has qualified for several U.S. teams, including the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She is among the most highly decorated Ivy League track and field athletes from her time at Dartmouth. Before joining ZAP last year, Vestri competed for Syracuse University where she was a star performer in both track and cross country.

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