St. Louisan Serena Burla finished second in the USA Half-Marathon Championships on Saturday in Houston.
A graduate of the University of Missouri, Burla crossed the line in 1 hour, 11 minutes, 38 seconds, behind only Olympian Jen Rhines, who finished in 1:11:14.
Rhines and Burla were part of a lead pack of six runners at the halfway point of the 13.1-mile race. The two took turns picking up the pace until they were alone at Mile 10. Rhines, who finished third in the Olympic Marathon trials here in 2004, kicked a half-mile later and built a 20-meter lead by the 11-mile mark. She ran alone from that point to the victory.
Burla also finished second last year. Less than a month later, she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a cancer that attacked the soft tissue in her thigh. She underwent surgery but rebounded to finish the New York Marathon in 2:37:06 and qualify for the Olympic Trials next year in Houston.
St. Charles native Jason Lehmkuhle finished fifth in the men's race in 1:02:49, behind winner Mohamed Trafeh (1:02:17) and Ryan Hall (1:02:20). Lehmkuhle, a mile and two-mile state champion for Duchesne High, trains with Team USA Minnesota.
Burla's teammate at Missouri, Jackie Pirtle-Hall, finished in 1:21:07. Pirtle-Hall, 28, hoped to meet the qualifying standard of 1:15:00 to run in the Trials.