2015 Pre Classic Results

EUGENE, Ore. — The 2015 Prefontaine Classic is in the books, and what a meet it was. We’ve covered several of the major storylines in other articles — great showings by Americans Matthew Centrowitz and Jenny Simpson in the mile/1500, a HS/U.S. Junior 1500 record by Alexa Efraimson and wins by world champs Mo Aman and Eunice Sum in the 800 — but there is still plenty of stuff to talk about, including a world record attempt by Genzebe Dibaba in the 5,000 (she fell eight seconds short, running 14:19.76) and a pulse-pounding men’s steeplechase that saw Ezekiel Kemboi hold off Jairus Birech and Evan Jager narrowly miss his American record. We recap all that and much more below.

Men’s 3000 Steeplechase: Ezekiel Kemboi Is Back

Kemboi and Birech were level as they hurdled the final barrier

Kemboi and Birech were level as they hurdled the final barrier

Kemboi struggled with injuries in 2014 but any questions about whether the 33-year-old was still a global force in the steeple were answered in the affirmative today as he ran a U.S. all-comers record of 8:01.71 to edge out Jairus Birech. Evan Jager ran his fastest opener ever, narrowly missing his American record by running 8:05.28 for fourth.

The pace was quick throughout with Birech sitting on rabbit Haron Lagat until Lagat dropped out with three laps to go (4:51). At that point, Biech and Kemboi had begun to separate from the field, and Jager was in just 9th, at the back of the main pack. Jager, sensing the race was getting away from him, knew he needed to pick it up and with two to go, he was up to fourth behind Conseslus Kipruto. Those two were still 15 meters down on Birech and Kemboi, however, who came through in 5:56.

The dance is back

The dance is back

Birech continued to drive the pace, leading Kemboi at the bell (7:01), and as they reached the end of the backstretch on the bell lap, Jager, now in third, was actually gaining on the leader and the deficit was down to fewer than 10 meters. That was the leaders’ cue to take off, and both Birech and Kemboi launched into their kicks with 200 to go. Both kicked furiously off the water jump and Kemboi swung wide on the final barrier in an attempt to pass Birech. He edged ahead only slightly however, as Birech was full of fight. The two battled stride for stride over the final 100 and in the end Kemboi was your winner by a narrow margin of just .12. Kemboi, who normally likes to drift into the outer lines to celebrate his victories, could only afford to make it to lane three in this one, though he did cap it off with a dance in front of the Hayward Field faithful. Kipruto wound up running Jager down for fourth place.

 

Pl.Athlete / TeamCnt.BirthResultScore
1.Ezekiel KEMBOIKEN828:01.711250WL
2.Jairus Kipchoge BIRECHKEN928:01.831250SB
3.Conseslus KIPRUTOKEN948:05.201234SB
4.Evan JAGERUSA898:05.281234SB
5.Paul Kipsiele KOECHKEN818:13.951194
6.Jonathan Muia NDIKUKEN918:18.381174
7.Hillary Kipsang YEGOKEN928:18.991171SB
8.Donald CABRALUSA898:19.241170SB
9.Roberto ALAIZESP908:19.851167PB
10.Matthew HUGHESCAN898:20.341165SB
11.Barnabas KIPYEGOKEN958:21.931158SB
12.Abel Kiprop MUTAIKEN888:25.641141
13.Daniel HULINGUSA838:25.751141
14.Bernard NGANGAKEN858:33.981105
Brahim TALEBMAR85DNF
Haron LAGATKEN83DNF

Quick Take #1: Birech-Kemboi is going to be a treat this year

Usually when Kemboi is at the top of his game, he’s untouchable, but Birech, who won six times on the Diamond League circuit last year, is a real threat to him and gave him all he could handle today. Kemboi traditionally peaks very well and if he can reach another level in Beijing, perhaps he will dominate once again. But Birech also ran his best at the end of the year in 2014 (a world-leading 7:58.41 at the DL final in Brussels on September 5). Watching these two training partners battle this season — the NBC Sports broadcast talked about a potential World Record attempt — and at Worlds in August will be special and a welcome change from last year, when Birech dominated almost every major race.

Quick Take #2: A fantastic opener for Evan Jager

Here are Jager’s season-openers since he took up the steeple in 2012:

2012: 8:26.14
2013: 8:08.60
2014: 8:06.97
2015: 8:05.28

He’s managed to get better every year so far and is on track to do so again in 2015, missing his PR by just .57 of a second today. Though Conseslus Kipruto came back on him over the final 200 today — a mistake that would have cost him a medal in a championship race — Jager usually get betters as the season goes on and today’s result, against most of the world’s top steeplers, is a sign that he will be a legitimate medal threat in Beijing.

Women’s 5,000: Genzebe Dibaba’s WR attempt falls short; but she runs fastest time in US history

Dibaba won by

Dibaba won by over 12 secondsWith a rabbit (or perhaps a race with Almaz Ayana), it’s possible Dibaba could have taken down sister Tirunesh’s 14:11.15 world record (or at least come closer to it),

Genzebe Dibaba came up short in her world record attempt here and its hard to blame her as as she was all alone after just 1800m into the race. Running a world record is hard, running most of the race all alone is almost impossible.

Dibaba ran admirably during the second mile, passing through 3200 in 9:07 (her first 1600 was 4:35), less than three seconds off WR pace. She couldn’t sustain the pace over the final mile, however, slipping to 69.7 on from 3200 to 3600, then 70.1 and 71.1. At the bell (13:13.4), it was clear the world record was off the table, though Dibaba still had a shot at a PR with a 65-second last lap. She couldn’t quite manage that, running 66.4 for her last lap to finish in 14:19.76, an outdoor PR (her indoor PR is 14:18.86).

A solo 14:19 — putting Dibaba fourth on the all-time outdoor list — is still an incredibly impressive performance and nothing for Dibaba to be ashamed of, though it was obviously a bit short of her goal.

Results and quick takes.

Pl.Athlete / TeamCnt.BirthResultScore
1.Genzebe DIBABAETH9114:19.761242PB
2.Faith Chepngetich KIPYEGONKEN9414:31.951218PB
3.Vivian Jepkemoi CHERUIYOTKEN8314:46.691189SB
4.Sally KIPYEGOKEN8514:47.751187SB
5.Alemitu HAROYEETH9514:48.521185
6.Irine Chebet CHEPTAIKEN9214:53.321176SB
7.Viola Jelagat KIBIWOTKEN8315:00.691162
8.Yelena KOROBKINARUS9015:18.801127SB
9.Marielle HALLUSA9215:23.331118
10.Meraf BAHTASWE8915:46.971074SB
Gabriele GRUNEWALDUSA86DNF
Betsy SAINAKEN88DNF
Katarzyna BRONIATOWSKAPOL90DNF
Alexi PAPPASUSA90DNF
Lauren JOHNSONUSA87DNF

Quick Take #1: Genzebe Dibaba’s strong season continues

Dibaba may not have gotten the WR but she shouldn’t be walking around with her head down after this one. She is three-for-three in 2015, breaking the world indoor record (14:18.86) in February, just missing the road 5k record in Carlsbad in March and setting an outdoor PR with her 14:19.76 today (previous best: 14:28.88). Countrywoman Almaz Ayana, who ran 14:14 in Shanghai two weeks ago, seems like the only woman in the world capable of hanging with Dibaba right now, though unfortunately we may have to wait until Worlds to see them square off.

Today’s time was the 5th fastest 5000 ever run outdoors (6th fastest ever counting Genzebe’s indoor 5000) and a time that her older sister, Tirunesh has only beaten once – when she ran the 14:11.15 WR.

Jenny Simpson fans, we do have some bad news for you. The 1500/5000 double is very much doable for Dibaba at Worlds. The 1500 finishes the day before the 5000 heats and then there are two days off before the 5000 final.

Quick Take #2: An impressive 5,000 debut by Faith Kipyegon

Kipyegon, a two-time world junior XC champ and the Kenyan record holder at 1500 (3:56.98) projected as a good 5,000 runner and she delivered in her debut, running 14:31.95 to put her #21 on the all-time list. Still only 21, Kipyegon, the Commonwealth Games 1500 champ, will now have to decide between the 1500 and 5,000 at Worlds.

Quick Take #3: Vivian Cheruiyot is making good progress

Cheruiyot isn’t back to the form that saw her win world titles at 5,000 and 10,000 in 2011, but she acquitted herself well in her first track race since 2012, running 14:46.69 for third. Cheruiyot took a long time to come back from giving birth in 2013. This was a sign that she is on the right path, but she’ll need to keep improving if she wants to medal at Worlds again.

Men’s 100: Tyson Gay Runs His Fastest Time Since Drug Suspension

Gay ran 9.88 and got the win in his first non-relay race of the year. 9.88 is his fastest legal time since his 9.86 in Kingston on May 4, 2013 (Gay ran 9.93 last year). Gay was clearly pleased with the result and in his post-race interview with Lewis Johnson, apologized to his supporters for making a mistake (his positive drug test) and said that whatever supplements he puts in his body going forward “is on me.”

Su Bingtian became the first Asian-born athlete to break 10.00, running 9.99.

Pl.Athlete / TeamCnt.BirthResultScore
1.Tyson GAYUSA829.881239SB
2.Michael RODGERSUSA859.901232SB
3.Bingtian SUCHN899.991201PB
4.Kim COLLINSSKN769.991201SB
5.Nesta CARTERJAM8510.021190
6.James DASAOLUGBR8710.131153SB
7.Richard THOMPSONTTO8510.271106
8.Justin WALKERUSA9010.281103

Men’s High Jump: Mutaz Essa Barshim Jumps a World-Leading 2.41 meters

After flying 9,000 miles from Qatar to compete, Barshim only took three jumps, clearing 2.28, 2.35 and 2.41 before calling it a day. He didn’t make any attempts at a world record, to the disappointment of the crowd. Not sure why. If he had made attempts at 8 feet this would have been the first meet where someone attempted 20 feet in the pole vault and 8 feet in the high jump. If you know why Barsham didn’t jump email us at letsrun@letsrun.com

Pl.Athlete / TeamCnt.BirthResultScore
1.Mutaz Essa BARSHIMQAT912.411278WL
2.Guowei ZHANGCHN912.381251PB
3.Erik KYNARDUSA912.351224SB
4.Ivan UKHOVRUS862.321197SB
5.Daniil TSYPLAKOVRUS922.281161SB
6.Andriy PROTSENKOUKR882.281161SB
7.Jesse WILLIAMSUSA832.241126
7.Donald THOMASBAH842.241126
7.Derek DROUINCAN902.241126

Women’s Triple Jump: Caterine Ibarguen Wins #24 in a Row

It came down to her final jump, but Ibarguen got it done, leaping 15.18 to get the victory over Russia’s Yekaterina Koneva. This was the first time two women had broken 15.00 in the same competition since the 2008 Olympics.

Pl.Athlete / TeamCnt.BirthResultWindScore
1.Caterine IBARGUENCOL8415.18+2.11209
2.Yekaterina KONEVARUS8815.04+1.71197WL, PB
3.Olha SALADUKHAUKR8314.48+1.51141
4.Keila DA SILVA COSTABRA8314.21+2.11111
5.Yosiris URRUTIACOL8614.03+1.71095SB
6.Yanmei LICHN9013.61+3.21043
7.Amanda SMOCKUSA8213.59+1.01054

Men’s 110 hurdles: Pascal Martinot-Lagarde Wins His Season-Opener

Martinot-Lagarde, Track & Field News’s World #1 last year, ran a world-leading 13.06 in his first race of 2015. World record-holder Aries Merritt of the U.S. was second in 13.12, his fastest time since July 2013.

Pl.Athlete / TeamCnt.BirthResultScore
1.Pascal MARTINOT-LAGARDEFRA9113.061234WL
2.Aries MERRITTUSA8513.121222SB
3.David OLIVERUSA8213.141218SB
4.Orlando ORTEGACUB9113.141218SB
5.Sergey SHUBENKOVRUS9013.281191SB
6.Andrew RILEYJAM8813.281191SB
7.Aleec HARRISUSA9013.391170
8.Wenjun XIECHN9013.391170

Women’s Javelin: World Champion Christina Obergfoll Wins

Obergfoll only needed two throws to get the win, throwing 63.07 meters.

Pl.Athlete / TeamCnt.BirthResultScore
1.Christina OBERGFÖLLGER8163.071113SB
2.Kara WINGERUSA8662.851109
3.Madara PALAMEIKALAT8762.851109
4.Elizabeth GLEADLECAN8861.461084
5.Barbora ŠPOTÁKOVÁCZE8159.841054SB
6.Linda STAHLGER8558.641033
7.Mariya ABAKUMOVARUS8657.241007
8.Martina RATEJSLO8155.15969

Men’s Pole Vault: World Record Holder Renaud Lavillenie Gets An Outdoor PR And Diamond League Record With 6.05m

Only world outdoor record holder Sergey Bubka has ever gone higher as this 6.05m mark moves Renaud Lavillenie to tied for second all-time outdoors. Lavillenie’s previous outdoor best was 6.02m, but he has the world indoor record (and best mark overall) with 6.14m. After clearing 6.05m Lavillenie moved the bar up to a world record 6.16m, but took three attempts and was unable to get over. 2014 NCAA and USA champion Sam Kendricks was second in 5.80m. Renaud’s younger brother Valentin was 4th with a 5.70m outdoor PR.

    1 Lavillenie , Renaud              FRA       6.05          4        
    2 Kendricks , Sam                  USA       5.80          2        
    3 Holzdeppe , Raphael Marcel       GER       5.80          1        
    4 Lavillenie , Valentin            FRA       5.70                   
    5 Lisek , Piotr                    POL       5.70                   
    6 Filippídis , Konstadínos         GRE       5.40                   
      de Oliveira , Augusto            BRA         NM                   
      Xue , Changrui                   CHN        DNS

Women’s 400: Allyson Felix Gets A Big Win Over Sanya Richards Ross

We know Allyson Felix can dominate at the 200m, but she isn’t as consistently good over 400m. Here she ran a good time to beat a great field including Olympic champ Sanya Richards-Ross. Richards-Ross was trying to become the first woman to run under 50-seconds 50 different times, but fell short so will have to wait until next time. Felix also revealed that she’ll be trying to double-up in both the 200 and 400 this year at Worlds.

    1 Felix , Allyson                  USA      50.05                   
    2 Richards-Ross , Sanya            USA      50.29                   
    3 McPherson , Stephenie Ann        JAM      50.40                   
    4 Francis , Phyllis                USA      51.37                   
    5 Hastings , Natasha               USA      51.71                   
    6 Williams-Mills , Novlene         JAM      51.89                   
    7 Grenot , Libania                 ITA      51.91                   
    8 Day , Christine                  JAM      52.29

 

Men’s 400 Hurdles: Johnny Dutch Gets The Win As USA Goes 1-3

2014 US champ Dutch got the win in 48.20 just beating out Bershawn Jackson by .02. Behind them there was a decent gap to Michael Tinsley in third. Olympic bronze medalistJavier Culson was well beaten in 6th and Jamaica’s world junior champ Jaheel Hyde, who has a 49.01 pb, made his Diamond League debut as the last finisher. Welcome to the pros, Mr. Hyde.

    1 Dutch , Johnny                   USA      48.20          4        
    2 Jackson , Bershawn               USA      48.22          2        
    3 Tinsley , Michael                USA      48.79          1        
    4 Hussein , Kariem                 SUI      49.24                   
    5 Mägi , Rasmus                    EST      50.08                   
    6 Culson , Javier                  PUR      50.10                   
    7 Hyde , Jaheel                    JAM      50.80                   
      Gordon , Jehue                   TTO        DNF

Women 100 (International): English Gardner Barely Wins In A Quick 10.84

Gardner and Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson both clocked 10.84, but Gardner was given the win and the world lead. However, her WL didn’t last long as it was beaten by three women in the main 100m race. Still, a great time and new PB for Gardner who hadn’t broken 11-seconds since 2013.

    1 Gardner , English                USA      10.84                   
    2 Thompson , Elaine                JAM      10.84                   
    3 Santos , Rosângela               BRA      11.04                   
    4 Tarmoh , Jeneba                  USA      11.06
    5 Duncan , Kimberlyn               USA      11.22
    6 Pierre , Barbara                 USA      11.24
    7 Silva , Ana Claudia              BRA      11.30
    8 Whitney , Kaylin                 USA      11.49

Women’s 100: Shelly-Ann Gets The Win In A World-Leading 10.81

Jamaica’s Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was challenged here as she and Murielle Ahoure both ran 10.81, but Fraser-Pryce got the win. Ahoure will still be happy with setting a national record for the Ivory Coast. USA’s Tori Bowi was 3rd just off her 10.80 PR.

    1 Fraser-Pryce , Shelly-Ann        JAM      10.81          4        
    2 Ahouré , Murielle                CIV      10.81          2        
    3 Bowie , Tori                     USA      10.82          1        
    4 Okagbare , Blessing              NGR      10.87                   
    5 Jeter , Carmelita                USA      11.02                   
    6 Baptiste , Kelly-Ann             TTO      11.08
    7 Bartoletta , Tianna              USA      11.09
    8 Ahye , Michelle-Lee              TTO      11.90

Men’s 400: Kirani James Beats LaShawn Merritt Again

James broke 44-seconds for the 5th time in his career. While Merritt lost, he did get a seasonal best (previous best 44.80) and snap a streak of two straight races over 45.

Afterwards, Merritt said he is on the right track with new coach Brooks Johnson and is aiming to being his best at Worlds.

    1 James , Kirani                   GRN      43.95          4        
    2 Merritt , LaShawn                USA      44.51          2        
    3 Brown , Chris                    BAH      44.54          1        
    4 Masrahi , Yousef Ahmed           KSA      44.75                   
    5 Haroun , Abdelalelah             QAT      44.80                   
    6 McQuay , Tony                    USA      44.81                   
    7 Makwala , Isaac                  BOT      45.33                   
    8 Maslák , Pavel                   CZE      45.66

Men’s 200: Justin Gatlin Ties His PB

Usain Bolt had better start training as Justin Gatlin is in unreal form as he equaled his PR with a 19.68 win. He was in a class of his own winning by a ridiculous .36-seconds.

Talk about Gatlin’s race on the message board: Gatlin says F*ck the haters – 19.68.

    1 Gatlin , Justin                  USA      19.68          4        
    2 Jobodwana , Anaso                RSA      20.04          2        
    3 Ashmeade , Nickel                JAM      20.18          1        
    4 Young , Isiah                    USA      20.24                   
    5 Forte , Julian                   JAM      20.41                   
    6 Mitchell , Curtis                USA      20.44                   
    7 Edward , Alonso                  PAN      20.63                   
    8 Roberts , Gil                    USA      20.88

 

SEASON OPENER HAS LAGAT RIGHT ON TRACK
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved - Used with permission.

EUGENE, Ore. (31-May) -- The 41st Prefontaine Classic surely did not disappoint, with plenty of world leading marks, personal bests, and memorable performances. Yet lost in the shuffle was a very strong track season opener for two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat, the now 40-year-old who has long been one of the faces of American distance running.

In the 5000m on Friday evening, Lagat used his experience and a bit of added motivation to push himself into the mix, winding up fourth in 13:14.97. Though he was four seconds adrift of winner Yomif Kejelcha --a runner less than half his age-- Lagat's time smashed the master's (40+) world record of 13:43.15, formerly held by France's Mohamed Ezzher.

While most fans and media members had their eyes focused on compatriot Galen Rupp who challenged for the win and wound up third in 13:12.36, Lagat ran tough in the final kilometer. He'd finish ahead of accomplished athletes like Ryan Hill, Lawi Lalang, Collis Birmingham, and Ibrahim Jeilan, sprinting around the Bowerman Curve and down the homestretch like the wily veteran has done so many times before.

It was a performance here last year that was on replay in Lagat's mind heading into this race, serving as motivation to start the season on the right foot. In 2014, Lagat finished 14th of 17 competitors in the Prefontaine Classic 5000m, timing a sub-par 13:31.23. Finishing just shy of 30 seconds behind winner Caleb Ndiku (13:01.71), the race left a mark on Lagat.

"My first race [last year] was 13:31 I think and it was right here and I was disappointed. I didn't want to repeat that here at the Prefontaine Classic. This is a special place for me, and I was embarrassed. I was telling everybody 'sorry' because I ran bad, but then I vowed not to do the same thing," Lagat told Race Results Weekly.

Determined not to make the same mistakes twice, Lagat spent time at altitude in Arizona, building endurance for his long outdoor season. "I went training in Flagstaff, had really good training, came down here and I was like 'I'm going to give all I can.' That's all I could afford today, 13:14. That's not too bad."

Entering the race, Lagat had anticipated the leaders would try and go out at 12:50-pace. Midway through, however, the tempo lagged slightly, and it never quite got going again. Hopes of a meet record or sub-13 clocking went out the window.

"I think they were going to go 62 and I thought to myself I am going to judge it and see if I can hang with that kind of pace. It ended up not being too, too fast and suited me, because being my first race I didn't know how it was going to feel," Lagat said.

Right now, Lagat knows what he has to do: sharpen up. Having won seven national titles outdoors at 5000m, he's got the process down pat. His main goal between now and the U.S. Outdoor Champions here at Hayward Field will be to tinker with his speed training. The base is there, but the wheels need a bit more work. He has until June 28 --the day of the 5000m final-- his first of two fitness peaks for the summer (his other would come at the IAAF World Championships).

"I realized I'm in good shape, the only thing that I need to do is fine tune it so that when I go to my next competition before U.S. Nationals, I'll be back here feeling strong and fresh," he said. Reflecting on his final lap here, Lagat felt good though just didn't have the lift in his legs to match winner Kejelcha, Kenyan Edwin Soi, or Rupp. "When you are not sharp race-wise, that's how I feel. You always feel like you are not going fast enough. The body feels like it is fresh but the turnover is not there."

In the mixed zone, an American reporter asked if Lagat's focus has shifted at all from contending for a World Championships medal in Beijing to setting masters records. In so many words, he asked if Lagat was questioning if he could still keep up with the younger competitors. Lagat smiled his usual smile and gave a poignant and meaningful response.

"I have [the masters records] as a focus, yes," he began. "If I aim for a good time and end up not doing so well, I hope I can break [those] records. The [media] attention has been, yes, 'Bernard Lagat is 40, what is he going to do?' I still feel like I can perform at the highest level. 13:14 most of the time wins World Championships. That's all I can say. I just need to prepare really well with Coach James Li, train hard and come back here sharper in June to make the team."

Bernard Lagat has already achieved the 2015 World Championships and 2016 Olympic Games qualifying standards of 13:23 and 13:25, respectively. Now he just has to worry about finishing in the top three at the USA Championships this year and Olympic Trials the next.

The odds are in his favor: in eight of the past nine years, Lagat has placed in the top three in the 5000m at the national meet.

The only missing year? That was 2009, when he had an automatic qualifying birth into the World Championships and wound up taking home a silver medal.


WORLD LEADS, FIERCE BATTLES HIGHLIGHT SECOND DAY OF PREFONTAINE CLASSIC
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved - Used with permission.

EUGENE, Ore. (30-May) -- As is tradition here at the Prefontaine Classic, records were shattered in bunches and world leading times were run in bulk at Historic Hayward Field, providing a memorable close to the 41st edition of this IAAF Diamond League meeting. Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba became the fourth-fastest woman in 5000m history, just the tip of the iceberg on what was a perfect day of distance racing.

DIBABA RACES ALONE INTO 5000M HISTORY

At the pre-meet press conference on Friday, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba spoke confidently of chasing her sister Tirunesh's world record for 5000m (14:11.15). To come close to the mark, Dibaba would have to run well faster than her 5000m personal best of 14:28.88. That she did, chasing the clock as hard as possible in a largely solo run.

Despite a field that was perhaps the strongest in event history, Dibaba made 12 and a half laps look like a cakewalk, breaking away from the pack with ease and completing circuit after circuit in solitary. By 3000 meters, reached in 8:33.33, the 24-year-old was in front by 40 meters. Her split time at 3000 meters was announced as a facility record, bringing the sell-out crowd of 13,278 into a frenzy.

Though not quite on world record pace, Dibaba continued to press on, hoping to crack the 14:20 barrier. Doing so would put her among a very elite group of Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar, and Almaz Ayana.

Dibaba quickened her cadence with a lap to go, flying past the East Grandstands, around the Bowerman Curve, and down the homestretch with a determined look. To a roaring standing ovation she'd break the tape in 14:19.76, the fastest time every on U.S. soil.

"It was very fast and I am very happy today," said Dibaba. "I was very happy, under 14:20. It was good. My best time, I am very happy."

Clutching a bouquet of flowers, it was announced Dibaba had set a meet record, facility record, and was now the fourth fastest woman in history. After apologizing for not speaking much English, Dibaba smiled and said, "the last K was very hard, but my time was fast."

And about her goal, to break her sister's world record? "Next time, yes, next time I will chase the world record."

Well behind Dibaba, Faith Kipyegon took second in 14:31.95, in her debut at the distance, followed by Vivian Cheruiyot in 14:46.69 and Sally Kipyego in 14:47.75.


MEMORABLE DUEL BETWEEN KENYAN FOES KEMBOI AND BIRECH

For much of the past two years, Kenyans Ezekiel Kemboi and Jairus Birech have been the class of the world in the 3000m steeplechase. Kemboi is the two-time Olympic champion, while Birech won Commonwealth Games silver and was the African Champion in 2014. Here today, the pair quickly found their familiar spots at the head of the field.

Battling like two prize fighters, blow for blow and leap for leap, Kemboi and Birech rounded the oval with a familiar rhythm. Neither wanted to be the Kenyan to fold.

It would take the final water jump to truly decide a winner, as Kemboi cleared the barrier with ease while Birech had a slight miss-step.

"I had to slow down the last 600 meters to get the strength for the final push," said Birech. "The last jump was the one."

Breaking the tape in 8:01.71 to Birech's 8:01.83, Kemboi took the win, pocketed four IAAF Diamond League race points, and then entertained the Hayward Field faithful with his traditional dance moves. Kemboi's time was a world lead, meet record, and facility record.

"I still have a small problem with my jumping," Kemboi admitted, saying he wasn't as sharp as usual because this was his first steeplechase of the season. "I have the tactics and my training is very good. I like dancing and my dance, I just like the people here... I wanted a chance for them to be as happy as me."

Behind Kemboi and Birech, American Evan Jager made a valiant attempt to better his own American record, coming up less than a second short. Still, the 26-year-old was very pleased with his 8:05.28 performance, especially considering the fact that he battled bravely with World Championships silver medalist Conseslus Kipruto.

"Everyone really came and brought their 'A' game," said Jager. "It stung a little bit the first couple laps but I was able to keep myself under control... I felt good the last lap and I was happy to see 8:05. It sucks, it was just off the record but it's early in the season."


SIMPSON HOLDS STEADY IN WOMEN'S 1500M

Jenny Simpson, the reigning IAAF Diamond League champion at 1500m, had said on Saturday that the 2015 season was all about staying competitive at the front of the field. In her first metric mile of the outdoor season, Simpson executed a flawless strategy, remaining close to the front before sprinting powerfully to victory.

While American compatriot Shannon Rowbury went with rabbit Phoebe Wright for the race's opening half, Simpson sat meters back leading the chase pack. Through 800 meters, Rowbury, Simpson, and Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan were in fine form for podium finishes.

A lap and a half later, it was Simpson, Hassan, and Kenya's Mercy Cherono going three wide entering the homestretch, all fighting for the win. Simply put, Simpson had the best strength and sprint on the day, holding steady in the front and breaking the tape with a pump of the fist in 4:00.98, the second-fastest time in the world this year. Cherono took second in 4:01.26 with Hassan third in 4:01.65. Rowbury wound up fourth in 4:02.28.

"I got to just kind of feel out the race for 800 meters and that was really fun to do," said Simpson. "There's not going to be a single race this year that's easy to win, so it really feels good to start off with a win and a good time.

Outside of the top four, high school senior Alexa Efraimson drew a loud applause from the knowledgeable crowd, setting a new national junior and high school record with her 4:03.39, seventh place performance. The 18-year-old, who will graduate from Camas High School in Washington in two weeks, time hung tough in the pack, not relenting in the homestretch.

"I was hoping for a really big PR today knowing it was a really stacked field," said Efraimson, taking down Mary Cain's previous record of 4:04.62. "I think over this past year I've progressed a lot not only physically, but mentally and psychologically. It's been a really good year of training coming up to this and I knew that I wanted to run fast today."

Efraimson's performance even drew a congratulations from Simpson, whom Efraimson considers a role model.

"Wow! I think that's really impressive," said Simpson. "That's a really impressive run for her, her age, and her development."


SOULEIMAN DEFENDS BOWERMAN MILE CROWN

Minutes after Simpson gave America a win in the women's 1500m, it was up to compatriot Matthew Centrowitz to give the red, white, and blue a sweep of the meet's two iconic middle distance events. In his way, though, was reigning Bowerman Mile champion Ayanleh Souleiman.

Souleiman entered today's race with the sole purpose of winning, earning coveted IAAF Diamond League race points and protecting his title of Bowerman Mile champion. Facing a stellar field that included Kenyans Asbel Kiprop, Silas Kiplagat, and James Magut, Souleiman made sure to stay close to the lead pack.

Through the half mile in a modest 1:59.64 (well behind the pacemakers), Souleiman and Centrowitz found themselves leading. The University of Oregon alum Centrowitz had came into the race wanting to stick as close to Souleiman's shoulder as possible. In the final lap, there wasn't even a foot separating the pair.


 

WORLD LEADS, FIERCE BATTLES HIGHLIGHT SECOND DAY OF PREFONTAINE CLASSIC
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved - Used with permission.

EUGENE, Ore. (30-May) -- As is tradition here at the Prefontaine Classic, records were shattered in bunches and world leading times were run in bulk at Historic Hayward Field, providing a memorable close to the 41st edition of this IAAF Diamond League meeting. Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba became the fourth-fastest woman in 5000m history, just the tip of the iceberg on what was a perfect day of distance racing.

DIBABA RACES ALONE INTO 5000M HISTORY

At the pre-meet press conference on Friday, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba spoke confidently of chasing her sister Tirunesh's world record for 5000m (14:11.15). To come close to the mark, Dibaba would have to run well faster than her 5000m personal best of 14:28.88. That she did, chasing the clock as hard as possible in a largely solo run.

Despite a field that was perhaps the strongest in event history, Dibaba made 12 and a half laps look like a cakewalk, breaking away from the pack with ease and completing circuit after circuit in solitary. By 3000 meters, reached in 8:33.33, the 24-year-old was in front by 40 meters. Her split time at 3000 meters was announced as a facility record, bringing the sell-out crowd of 13,278 into a frenzy.

Though not quite on world record pace, Dibaba continued to press on, hoping to crack the 14:20 barrier. Doing so would put her among a very elite group of Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar, and Almaz Ayana.

Dibaba quickened her cadence with a lap to go, flying past the East Grandstands, around the Bowerman Curve, and down the homestretch with a determined look. To a roaring standing ovation she'd break the tape in 14:19.76, the fastest time every on U.S. soil.

"It was very fast and I am very happy today," said Dibaba. "I was very happy, under 14:20. It was good. My best time, I am very happy."

Clutching a bouquet of flowers, it was announced Dibaba had set a meet record, facility record, and was now the fourth fastest woman in history. After apologizing for not speaking much English, Dibaba smiled and said, "the last K was very hard, but my time was fast."

And about her goal, to break her sister's world record? "Next time, yes, next time I will chase the world record."

Well behind Dibaba, Faith Kipyegon took second in 14:31.95, in her debut at the distance, followed by Vivian Cheruiyot in 14:46.69 and Sally Kipyego in 14:47.75.


MEMORABLE DUEL BETWEEN KENYAN FOES KEMBOI AND BIRECH

For much of the past two years, Kenyans Ezekiel Kemboi and Jairus Birech have been the class of the world in the 3000m steeplechase. Kemboi is the two-time Olympic champion, while Birech won Commonwealth Games silver and was the African Champion in 2014. Here today, the pair quickly found their familiar spots at the head of the field.

Battling like two prize fighters, blow for blow and leap for leap, Kemboi and Birech rounded the oval with a familiar rhythm. Neither wanted to be the Kenyan to fold.

It would take the final water jump to truly decide a winner, as Kemboi cleared the barrier with ease while Birech had a slight miss-step.

"I had to slow down the last 600 meters to get the strength for the final push," said Birech. "The last jump was the one."

Breaking the tape in 8:01.71 to Birech's 8:01.83, Kemboi took the win, pocketed four IAAF Diamond League race points, and then entertained the Hayward Field faithful with his traditional dance moves. Kemboi's time was a world lead, meet record, and facility record.

"I still have a small problem with my jumping," Kemboi admitted, saying he wasn't as sharp as usual because this was his first steeplechase of the season. "I have the tactics and my training is very good. I like dancing and my dance, I just like the people here... I wanted a chance for them to be as happy as me."

Behind Kemboi and Birech, American Evan Jager made a valiant attempt to better his own American record, coming up less than a second short. Still, the 26-year-old was very pleased with his 8:05.28 performance, especially considering the fact that he battled bravely with World Championships silver medalist Conseslus Kipruto.

"Everyone really came and brought their 'A' game," said Jager. "It stung a little bit the first couple laps but I was able to keep myself under control... I felt good the last lap and I was happy to see 8:05. It sucks, it was just off the record but it's early in the season."


SIMPSON HOLDS STEADY IN WOMEN'S 1500M

Jenny Simpson, the reigning IAAF Diamond League champion at 1500m, had said on Saturday that the 2015 season was all about staying competitive at the front of the field. In her first metric mile of the outdoor season, Simpson executed a flawless strategy, remaining close to the front before sprinting powerfully to victory.

While American compatriot Shannon Rowbury went with rabbit Phoebe Wright for the race's opening half, Simpson sat meters back leading the chase pack. Through 800 meters, Rowbury, Simpson, and Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan were in fine form for podium finishes.

A lap and a half later, it was Simpson, Hassan, and Kenya's Mercy Cherono going three wide entering the homestretch, all fighting for the win. Simply put, Simpson had the best strength and sprint on the day, holding steady in the front and breaking the tape with a pump of the fist in 4:00.98, the second-fastest time in the world this year. Cherono took second in 4:01.26 with Hassan third in 4:01.65. Rowbury wound up fourth in 4:02.28.

"I got to just kind of feel out the race for 800 meters and that was really fun to do," said Simpson. "There's not going to be a single race this year that's easy to win, so it really feels good to start off with a win and a good time.

Outside of the top four, high school senior Alexa Efraimson drew a loud applause from the knowledgeable crowd, setting a new national junior and high school record with her 4:03.39, seventh place performance. The 18-year-old, who will graduate from Camas High School in Washington in two weeks, time hung tough in the pack, not relenting in the homestretch.

"I was hoping for a really big PR today knowing it was a really stacked field," said Efraimson, taking down Mary Cain's previous record of 4:04.62. "I think over this past year I've progressed a lot not only physically, but mentally and psychologically. It's been a really good year of training coming up to this and I knew that I wanted to run fast today."

Efraimson's performance even drew a congratulations from Simpson, whom Efraimson considers a role model.

"Wow! I think that's really impressive," said Simpson. "That's a really impressive run for her, her age, and her development."


SOULEIMAN DEFENDS BOWERMAN MILE CROWN

Minutes after Simpson gave America a win in the women's 1500m, it was up to compatriot Matthew Centrowitz to give the red, white, and blue a sweep of the meet's two iconic middle distance events. In his way, though, was reigning Bowerman Mile champion Ayanleh Souleiman.

Souleiman entered today's race with the sole purpose of winning, earning coveted IAAF Diamond League race points and protecting his title of Bowerman Mile champion. Facing a stellar field that included Kenyans Asbel Kiprop, Silas Kiplagat, and James Magut, Souleiman made sure to stay close to the lead pack.

Through the half mile in a modest 1:59.64 (well behind the pacemakers), Souleiman and Centrowitz found themselves leading. The University of Oregon alum Centrowitz had came into the race wanting to stick as close to Souleiman's shoulder as possible. In the final lap, there wasn't even a foot separating the pair.

Down the homestretch as if attached at the hip, Souleiman held the slightest advantage, with Kiprop a step further back. Despite a late challenge by Centrowitz, the IAAF World Indoor Champion in Souleiman was able to maintain his lead and successfully retain his crown, stopping the clock in a new world lead of 3:51.10.

"This year, I want the points and Diamond League. I am happy to have a good run and get those," said a relaxed Souleiman, the first repeat Bowerman Mile champion since Kiprop in 2009/2010. "I want the points, not the time. I knew Centrowitz was coming back and he was fast last year. He was pushing. I win, I am happy, and next week I will go to Rome 800m and see you on TV!"

Centrowitz was a tenth of a second back in 3:51.20, followed by the fast-closing Kiprop third in 3:51.25.

"It's the best place I've finished in any Diamond League 1500m or mile. Even though I was close to the win, I was definitely happy with how I finished and it's a good step in the right direction," said Centrowitz. Interestingly, all 13 runners in the Bowerman Mile field finished under 3:57.34.


SUM AND WILSON BATTLE FOR 800M SUPREMACY

As favorite, reigning world champion Eunice Sum had to work very hard to secure a win in the women's 800m. A tightly bunched affair through one lap, American Brenda Martinez opened the race up with a strong surge less than 300 meters from the finish. Stringing the field into single file, Martinez charged on until Sum and Ajee' Wilson came up on her shoulder as they approached the final homestretch.

While Martinez tightened up slightly and faded, Sum and Wilson went stride for stride until only five meters remained, when the Kenyan gained a step's advantage. She'd win in a world-leading 1:57.82 to Wilson's 1:57.87.

"The last 200m, you know, I was just like 'I messed it up, so now I just got to give it all I got the last 200m,'" said Wilson. "I just think I would have had a better shot of winning had I put myself in a better position."


AMAN REBOUNDS WITH WIN FOR ADOPTED HOMETOWN

Oregon Track Club member and reigning IAAF World 800m Champion Mohammed Aman rebounded from a rough 1:47.38 season opener to win here today in front of his adopted home crowd. Racing in a retro Oregon Track Club singlet, Aman took the lead with 250 meters to go and rounded the Bowerman Curve with confidence. He'd win in 1:44.92, with Botswana's Nijel Amos second in 1:45.06 and Olympic 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi third in 1:45.17.

"My focus was to run here in my hometown and it made me happy," he said. "You feel relaxed. I am so strong, I train with coach [Mark] Rowland, and I was ready."

Aman wasn't the only Oregon Track Club member to win today. Ben Blankenship dug deep to match Jonathan Sawe and Timothy Cheruiyot's kicks in the homestretch of the International Mile, ultimately passing the pair of Kenyans on the inside to win in 3:55.72.

The next stop of the IAAF Diamond League will be in Rome on June 4.


FARAH THRILLS CROWD WITH 10,000M VICTORY ON DAY ONE OF PREFONTAINE CLASSIC
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved - Used with permission.

EUGENE, Ore. (29-May) -- On a crystal clear night perfect for racing, Great Britain's double Olympic champion Mo Farah electrified the Hayward Field faithful, fighting tooth and nail to win the 10,000m here at the Prefontaine Classic's opening day of competition. Farah, 32, prevailed in a time of 26:50.97, the fourth fastest 10,000m ever run at Hayward Field and the fastest time so far in the world this year.

"My aim was to definitely run faster," Farah told members of the media, slightly frustrated with the final time. "It's one of those things where you just might as well go for it while it's still early on [in the season]. That was the aim, but you know, it was pretty difficult."

From the opening kilometers, one could sense the 10,000m was going to be a barn-burner. At halfway, hit in approximately 13:21, Farah held a step lead on a group of five which included Paul Tanui, Geoffrey Kamworor, Geoffrey Kirui, and Emmanuel Bett, all from Kenya. Pressing on, Farah looked like a man on a mission, often trading the lead with Tanui. The pair had talked among one another early in the race, and agreed to share leading duties hoping to run a fast time.

With two miles remaining, the pack had dwindled down to three: Farah, Tanui, and Kamworor. Still, Farah and Tanui did a majority of the leading.

Antsy for a faster time, the Hayward Field faithful kept their traditional rhythmic clap going, amplified a notch when Farah surged to the lead with three laps to go. However, the fans weren't just cheering for Farah -- they were roaring for his Nike Oregon Project teammate Cam Levins, who'd moved up very well from well back at halfway to fourth position in the final kilometer.

For a moment it looked as if Farah was starting to fade up front, as Tanui fought his way into the pole position with 700 meters to go. But Farah --who hasn't lost a 10,000m competition since 2011-- wasn't going to go down without a fight.

After taking the bell, Farah moved into the lead and went to his trademark finishing kick, opening up his stride hoping to get to the Bowerman Curve in front. That he did, using the standing ovation and roars from the crowd to power home through the line in 26:50.97. Tanui was second in 26:51.86, followed by Kamworor, the world cross country champion, in third (26:52.65).

"I was hoping to run a lot faster, I was hoping to run 26:30-something," Farah again reiterated. "You try these things. That was today's aim, and I've never run that fast. My aim is to give it a go."

Down the stretch, Farah knew he could get the win in front of his adopted hometown fans.

"I was just thinking push all the way to the end," Farah said. "I was quite pumped up at the start. It was good. I like Hayward Field and it is a good crowd and they love distance. There's great history."

Levins, 26, wound up finishing fourth, shattering Simon Bairu's Canadian national record of 27:23.63. Levins's time of 27:07.51 was a personal best by more than 20 seconds.

"Oh my gosh it was amazing," said an exuberant Levins, talking fast with excitement. "It was a huge push. They kept me going, kept me going, and kept me strong. I was telling Simon [Bairu] before the race 'Hey it's going down.' All he said was 'I'm surprised you hadn't got it already.' It was kind of his push back on me, like 'What took you so long.'"

With it being the 40th anniversary of Steve Prefontaine's final race, many in attendance had hopes that an American --especially homegrown talent Galen Rupp-- would cap off the anniversary in style with a victory. However, it simply wasn't to be. The men's 5000m looked more like an 800m, as nearly the entire field stayed bunched together until there was a mere two laps to go.

With 600m left, Rupp had had enough. Surging to the lead, the 29-year-old Olympic silver medalist took control, pushing the pace with a sudden change of pace.

Matching Rupp stride for stride was Kenya's Albert Rop and Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha, the latter a 17-year-old who won the IAAF World Junior Championship 5000m title on this very track last year.

As the Hayward Field faithful's cheers got louder for Rupp, the wheels on the father of twin girls began to slowly fade. Kejelcha came up on Rupp's shoulder with 300 meters remaining and swiftly went by, completing what the public address announcer said was a 55.2-second lap from 4400 to 4800 meters. For the final half lap, the youthful Kejelcha was alone in front, breaking the tape in 13:10.54.

Behind, Rupp and Soi battled for second, with the Kenyan prevailing in 13:11.97 to Rupp's 13:12.36. Forty year-old Bernard Lagat was fourth in 13:14.97, smashing the masters (40+) world record.

The day belonged to Kejelcha, however, whose previous personal best was a mediocre 13:25.19. Entering the mixed zone with a very big smile and sporting a new Nike shirt, Kejelcha stopped in front of a throng of reporters. All he could say in between smiles was "No English! No English! No English" before scampering off to the athlete recovery area without further comment.

Rupp did stop and speak with reporters after Farah's win, pleased with his season opening performance.

"It was pretty tactical, so I knew that I had to try to make a longer run with a lot of the guys having good kicks," said Rupp. "I did my best to do what I thought I needed to do to win. I just got to make the right adjustments in training and go from there."

He continued: "I really wanted to see how I stacked up against these guys. It's been a while since I've raced that hard and I'm happy with how it went... I know my strength is good right now so it's good practice for the big meets coming up which are probably going to be tactical too. I was really pleased with the way it turned out and I know where I'm at now."

In the USATF High Performance Women's 800m, Maggie Vessey claimed the win in a season best 2:00.07. Vessey created a five meter gap out front after the pacer stepped off and never let go, keeping her foot on the gas pedal all the way through the tape.

Vessey told reporters she is very confident with how training has gone, and did not taper coming into this meet. She will taper for the USA Championships here later next month.

"The strength is there, the speed is there," she said. "I feel fantastic. It's just a matter of being relaxed when I go to the starting line, getting out of my own way, saddling up and going for the ride and seeing what happens."

Phoebe Wright was second in 2:00.79, while last year's IAAF World Junior Champion Margaret Nyairera Wambui of Kenya was third in 2:01.32.

Throughout last indoor season, North Carolina's Ryen Frazier dominated the high school mile scene, winning invitationals across the country. Here, she'd have to rely on a hard sprint for the line to take home the crown, winning the girls' high school mile by a mere four-one hundredths of a second.

The entire 10-girl field was bunched at the bell, when Frazier and Danielle Jones of Arizona separated from the pack. Neck and neck down the homestretch, the pair went stride for stride all the way to the line before Frazier gained a step. Unsure of who won, both Frazier and Jones embraced shortly after the finish. The scoreboard revealed that Frazier had indeed taken first, 4:39.84 to 4:39.88.

"I don't like to celebrate, especially when it's that close!" said Frazier, reflecting on the moments after her win. "I was glad I could get a step. I thought I had a step and I'm glad I did."

Minutes later, another close race played out in the Boys' High School Mile. Mikey Brannigan of Northport, N.Y., led coming down the homestretch, out in front by five meters. As it looked like Brannigan, who has Autism, was going to win and complete his dream of finishing first at Hayward Field, Arizona's Carlos Villareal appeared out of nowhere in lane four, sprinting hard for the line.

Making up ground with ease, Villareal raised his arm in celebration as he crossed the line, 4:05.25 on the clock. Brannigan was second in 4:05.78.





Matthew Centrowitz makes it close, but Ayanleh Souleiman wins the Pre Classic's Bowerman Mile

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Ayanleh Souleiman wins the Bowerman mile with Matthew Centrowitz placing second during the Pre Classic at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Thomas Boyd/Staff
Ken Goe | The Oregonian/OregonLiveBy Ken Goe | The Oregonian/OregonLive 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter 
on May 30, 2015 at 5:47 PM, updated May 30, 2015 at 9:07 PM
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EUGENE – Ayanleh Souleiman fought off a kicking Matthew Centrowitz Saturday on the home straight before a roaring crowd at Hayward Field to win the Bowerman Mile, as the Prefontaine Classic closed in style.

Souleiman finished in 3 minutes, 51.10 seconds, just ahead of Centrowitz, second in 3:51.20.






Centrowitz, who starred for the University of Oregon, brought the crowd of 13,278 to its feet by going for the win coming off the Bowerman Curve and onto the home straight.

But Souleiman, who ran a 1:43.78 800 meters in Qatar weeks ago, had just a little more in the tank.

"I have more speed," said Souleiman, who won The Bowerman Mile last year, too.

As much as he needed, anyway.

Souleiman's winning time in 2014 was 3:47.32.

"To be that close to a win is nothing but exciting," Centrowitz said. "I've been talking for years about mixing it up in the Diamond League with these guys. Today was a good step in the right direction."

Later in the season, when Centrowitz has had a little more time to fine-tune his finish, well, who knows?

This was Souleiman's day.

"I know Souleiman always has that extra gear," Centrowitz said. "He's extremely strong. I wasn't underestimating his finish by any means."

There were a number of big performances on a warm, sunny Saturday. Among them:

-- Jenny Simpson won the women's 1,500 with a bold move coming off the Bowerman Curve to finish in 4:00.98. Mercy Cherono was second. The Nike Oregon Project's,Shannon Rowbury, who led coming onto the last lap's home straight, crossed fourth in 4:02.28.

Camas High senior Alexa Efraimson was seventh in 4:03.39 to break the U.S. high school record of 4:04.62 set by Mary Cain in 2013.

-- Running almost entirely by herself, Genzebe Dibaba zoomed away with the women's 5,000 by 12 seconds in 14:19.76 to crush the meet record of 14:33.96 set by Vivian Cheruiyot in 2011. In the process, Dibaba became the fourth-fastest woman ever outdoors.

-- Renaud Lavillenie won the pole vault with a clearance of 19 feet, 10¼ inches. With the crowd clapping rhythmically, he missed three attempts at 20-2½, which would have tied the world record he set indoors in 2014.

Lavillenie did take down Brad Walker's seven-year-old meet record of 19-9¾.

-- Eight-time world champion Allyson Felix's experiment with the 400 was successful. She overpowered U.S. record-holder Sanya Richards-Ross to win in 50.05. Richards-Ross was second in 50.29.

-- Both women's 100 races were fast. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce edged Murielle Ahoure in a photo finish to win the Diamond League 100 in 10.81.

Former University of Oregon star English Gardner won the B section in 10.84. Second-place finisher Elaine Thompson had the same official time.

-- Mutaz Essa Barshim claimed the high jump with a first-attempt clearance of 7-10 3/4 to break the Hayward Field record of 7-10½ that he set last year, and then retired from the competition.

The world record of 8-0½, owned by Cuba's Javier Sotomayor since 1993, will stand for now.

In the thrilling finish to the women's 1,500, Simpson was sitting on Rowbury coming off the last turn of the 1,500, then kicked past her on the home straight.

"A good step forward for me," Simpson said. "I can be a stalker, be really patient and be ready to close hard."

Rowbury was relatively pleased, too.

"I ran 4:02 pretty much leading it. I just got outkicked in the last 100 meters," she said. "But we haven't done a lot of sharpening and I haven't really raced that much."

It was a pretty good afternoon for several local athletes.

Gardner, who spent last year hobbled with hamstring problems, said she was overcome with emotion at the start line.

"I felt like I was on the top of the world, and then I went all the way to the bottom," she said of her injury-plagued 2014. "Everything that could go wrong last year, went wrong."

But this is a new season. While at Oregon, Gardner used to joke with reporters that she would gear up for a big performance by uncaging "the lion."

"The lion finally got back out," she said. "I thought somebody had locked him up and sold him at a zoo somewhere."

Ethiopian Mohammed Aman, who trains as a member of Eugene-based Oregon Track Club Elite, claimed the 800 in 1:44.92.

OTC Elite's Ben Blankenship won the men's international mile, darting inside on the home straight to edge Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe at the line.

Blankenship finished in 3:55.72. Sawe crossed in 3:55.76.

Ezekiel Kemboi squeaked out a victory over Jairus Kipchoge Birech in the steeplechase. Kemboi finished in 8:01.71 to take down the meet record of 8:03.59 set by Conseslus Kipruto in 2013.

Evan Jager of the Bowerman Track Club, the U.S. record-holder, was fourth in 8:05.28. Jager moved up late in the race, but never got into position to win.

It was first steeple of the season, and as he pointed out, a long way still to go.

"I was happy with how I finished," Jager said.



Quite a tale at the tape

Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman wins the Bowerman Mile in a side-by-side-by-side finish

 




It wasn’t the fastest Bowerman Mile ever, but who needs speed when you can have dramatic finishes?

On an afternoon that saw a pair of thrilling attempts at world records and an American junior record set in the women’s 1,500, the Prefontaine Classic’s signature event still delivered a perfect ending to the 41st annual track and field meet on Saturday.

A crowd of 13,278 at Hayward Field rose to its feet as Ayanleh Souleiman, Matthew Centrowitz and Asbel Kiprop sprinted to the finish line side-by-side-by-side before finishing in that order just 15-hundreths of a second apart.

Souleiman finished in 3:51.10, Centrowitz, running back on the track where he once starred for Oregon, ran 3:51.20, and Kenyan Asbel Kiprop finished in 3:51.25.

Kenyan Silas Kiplagat was right on their heels with a fourth-place finish in 3:51.92.

Souleiman won the Bowerman Mile last year in a meet record 3:47.32, one of six times under 3:50 in that race. While no one was as fast this year, all 13 finishers ran under 3:58.

“Centrowitz, he’s good,” said Souleiman, who is from Djibouti. “He’s running fast, and that’s why he came in the last 100 meters. I had a little more.”

But not much.

Despite coming in second, Centrowitz said he was happy with his performance.

“It’s nothing but exciting to be in the thick of things,” Centrowtiz said. “I’ve been talking for years now about mixing it up on the Diamond League circuit with these guys, and this was a good step in the right direction.”

Centrowitz attempted to get out front late in the race but Souleiman proved to have a better finish at this point in the season.

“I felt good with 200 to go,” Centrowitz said. “I thought I was going to pull it off. But I also know Souleiman always saves that extra gear and he’s extremely strong and fast. He ran 1:43 (in the 800) a couple weeks ago, so I wasn’t underestimating his finish by any means.”

Souleiman’s time is the best in the world this season, bettering a time that wasn’t even three hours old.

Earlier in the meet, Oregon Track Club Elite’s Ben Blankenship won the men’s International Mile in a then world-leading 3:55.72 with a sweet move and surge near the end of the race.

Blankenship was running behind leader Timothy Cheruiyot and in front of Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe when Sawe moved into lane 3 to pass both on the outside.

Blankenship followed with a move inside along the rail and with one last burst of speed, blew through the finish line in first place to beat the two Kenyans.

Sawe was second in 3:55.76 and Cheruiyot was third in 3:55.80.

“I was just kind of hoping that the inside lane would open up,” Blankenship said. “Either way, I was going to try and make a move and was just waiting to see what everybody else’s legs felt like.”

The race got out to a fast start as the pace setters pushed for a 1:53 half mile. The pack didn’t go with them, however, which was fine with Blankenship, who was happy to sit and wait.

“I think the race has the talent to go that fast, but nobody wants to take it on, and I didn’t care,” he said. “I didn’t want to drag more Americans to the “A” standard. It’s tactic as well.”

It’s already been a good season for Blankenship, who was a member of America’s world record-setting distance medley relay team earlier this month at the World Relays in the Bahamas. Now he has his sights set on the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in late June and an attempt to make the World Championship team in the 1,500.

“Until I hit a road block, hopefully not at USAs, I’ll keep rolling,” Blankenship said.

American 3,000 steeplechase record-holder Evan Jager opened his season on Saturday with a fourth-place finish in 8:05.28, just off his record-time of 8:04.71.

“I felt pretty composed,” said Jager, who spent the race trying to chase down a trio a Kenyans. “Definitely, the legs were stinging the second to last lap. But I felt good going into the last lap and tried to have a good final water jump and really kick hard.”

Ezekiel Kemboi was the winner in 8:01.71 to move into the world lead, Jairus Kipchoge Birech was second in 8:01.83 and Conseslus Kipruto was third in 8:05.20.






Men’s 5000: A 17-Year-Old Ethiopian Officially Arrives On The Scene

Distance fans, if you didn’t stay up late on Friday night to watch Distance Night at the 2015 Prefontaine Classic, you may have missed the unveiling of the sport’s next track distance star.

308 days after after he won the World Junior 5000 title here by tightening the screws and increasing the pace over the final 3.5 laps, Ethiopia’s 17-year-old Yomif Kejelcha destroyed the field over the final 300 to win a tactical men’s 5000 in a new personal best of 13:10.54. 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Edwin Soi of Kenya was second in 13:11.97 with American Galen Rupp third in 13:12.36 as 40-year-old American Bernard Lagat destroyed the 40+ world record of 13:43.15 (Lagat had run 13:40 on the road at Carlsbad) by running 13:14.97 for 4th.

The Race

At the pre-meet press conference, Prefontane Classic meet director Tom Jordan told LRC Galen Rupp was in great shape and wanted to run fast but no one went with the rabbits in this one as it ended up being a negative split race (6:36-7 at halfway).

The clock read 10:11.44 with three to go but the the real racing didn’t start until the final two laps as with 800 to go the clock was at 11:16.70. With 700 to go, Rupp made a big move to the front and with 650 meters remaining, three guys, Rupp, Bahrain’s Alberto Rop, and Kejelcha, were basically three-abreast, but heading into the turn Rop, who ran 12:51 in 2013 but was only 11th in the Diamond League opening 3000 in Doha, was able to maintain the inside and keep Rupp from the lead.

At the bell (12:15.02), Rupp’s move the front had succeeded as he was in the lead as Kejelcha was on his shoulder with Soi in third and Rop in fourth.

Kejelcha had this in the bag with 150 to go

Kejelcha had this in the bag with 150 to go

With 300 to go, Kejelcha made his move for glory putting on a tremendous burst of speed and seizing a comfortable lead over Galen Rupp. A few weeks ago in the 3000 at Doha, Kejelcha went too hard too early in a race with Mo Farah and faded to 5th. Had Kejelcha gone too early once again? The others did gain a little on him over the final 100 but his lead was so huge (10+ meters) with 150 to go that he still won this one with some comfort.

Once past the line, the youngster gave himself a much deserved fist pump. Rupp had shown great speed in giving chase, but Edwin Soi passed him before the line for second, with Rupp third, and a big 2.6 gap to 40 year old Bernard Lagat in 4th.

Results and quick takes appear below.

Men’s 5000 Results

5000 Metres - Men                                             

    1 Kejelcha , Yomif                 ETH   13:10.54                   
    2 Soi , Edwin Cheruiyot            KEN   13:11.97                   
    3 Rupp , Galen                     USA   13:12.36                   
    4 Lagat , Bernard                  USA   13:14.97                   
    5 Rop , Albert Kibichii            BRN   13:15.66                   
    6 Hill , Ryan                      USA   13:15.92                   
    7 Lalang , Lawi                    KEN   13:16.11                   
    8 Birmingham , Collis              AUS   13:17.49                   
    9 Nebebew , Birhan                 ETH   13:19.14                   
   10 Jeilan , Ibrahim                 ETH   13:20.21                   
   11 Ahmed , Mohammed                 CAN   13:20.67                   
   12 Barrios , Juan Luis              MEX   13:28.58                   
   13 McNeill , David                  AUS   13:40.93
      Fernandez , German               USA        DNF                   
      Gathimba , Gideon Mwangi         KEN        DNF


The two biggest names in this race were world champion Mo Aman and Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos. However, neither one came in with the normal favorite status you would expect. Aman opened his season at the Doha Diamond League with a terrible 1:47.38 performance for 9th place while Amos pulled out of that same race with a quad injury. Despite the doubts surrounding their fitness and health coming in, Aman and Amos delivered here with a 1-2 finish. Aman went to the lead with a little under 200 to go and was able to hold of a late charging Amos on the backstretch to take it in 1:44.92 to Amos’ 1:44.06. Reigning Olympic 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi got a nice season opener with a close 3rd place finish in 1:45.17.
800 Final 100m

800 Final 100m

The Race (Video replay here)

Once again, the runners were reluctant to follow the rabbit as Harun Abda took the race out in 51.61, but no one went with him. Behind Abda there was a sizable gap to Poland’s Adam Kszczot who lead the chase pack. Aman, Amos and Makhloufi sat right behind Kszczot.

As they approached 200 to go Amos got himself in a bit of trouble as he was on the rail and boxed in when Makhloufi went by on his outside. Amos had to wait a little longer to make a move to go after Aman. Amos also had to go a bit wider and run the final curve almost in lane 2. In the end this probably cost him the win as he challenged Aman up until the final meters, but wasn’t able to get by. Makhloufi made a late surge and almost caught the other two, but it was too little too late.

Behind the top three Kszczot fell back to 8th and Kenya’s Alfred Kipketer took 4th (1:45.69). Charles Jock was in dead last at the bell and moved up to finish 6th (1:46.08).

Results:

    1 Aman , Mohammed                  ETH    1:44.92                   
    2 Amos , Nijel                     BOT    1:45.06                   
    3 Makhloufi , Taoufik              ALG    1:45.17                   
    4 Kipketer , Alfred                KEN    1:45.69                   
    5 Kinyor , Job Koech               KEN    1:45.87                   
    6 Jock , Charles                   USA    1:46.08                   
    7 Olivier , André                  RSA    1:46.10                   
    8 Kszczot , Adam                   POL    1:46.14                   
    9 Rotich , Ferguson Cheruiyot      KEN    1:46.72
      Abda , Harun                     USA        DNF

EUGENE, Ore. — It was a great day to be an American middle-distance fan on Saturday. 2014 Diamond League champion Jenny Simpson picked up where she left off on the DL circuit, winning her third straight DL 1,500 in 4:00.98 (though this race does not count in the DL standings). Minutes later, Matthew Centrowitz recorded his best-ever DL showing with a runner-up 3:51.20 in the Bowerman Mile, narrowly losing to Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman, who won here for the second straight year.

Simpson and Centrowitz were the biggest names to excel, but they were hardly the only Americans to run well. Ben Blankenship continued his red-hot 2015 with a win in the international mile (3:55.72) while high school senior Alexa Efraimson (Camas, WA) broke the U.S. high school and U.S. junior records at 1500 with a spectacular 4:03.39 to place seventh in the women’s 1500. Mary Cain held the old record at 4:04.62 from 2013.

Men’s Bowerman Mile: Ayanleh Souleiman Repeats as Matthew Centrowitz Finishes a Surprising Second

Matthew Centrowitz made him work for it, but in the end Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman defended his Bowerman Mile title in impressive fashion, holding off Centrowitz and Asbel Kiprop over the final, drama-packed 100 meters. Souleiman got the win in 3:51.10 after closing in 1:51.46 for his final 800 with Centrowitz second in 3:51.20 and Kiprop third in 3:51.25.

While Souleiman’s victory was no surprise, Centrowitz’s runner-up finish represented a massive step forward for the 25-year-old. Centro has proven himself to be one of the world’s best championship racers (3rd, 4th and 2nd at last three global champs) but generally struggled in the faster Diamond League races. Prior to today, he hadn’t finished in the top six of a DL race since 2012, when he was fourth in Brussels and third in Lausanne. He’s now tied for the second-best finish ever by an American in a DL 1500/mile:

Best finishes by an American man in a DL 1500/mile
1st, Leo Manzano, August 6, 2011 (London)
2nd, Bernard Lagat, August 6, 2011 (London)
2nd, Leo Manzano, August 27, 2010 (Brussels)
2nd, Leo Manzano, August 14, 2010 (London)
2nd, Matthew Centrowitz, May 30, 2015 (Eugene)

The Race (video replay here)

It quickly became apparent that we weren’t going to have a repeat of last year’s super-quick Bowerman Mile as when Souleiman came through 409 meters in 59.57 seconds, he had a five-meter lead on the main pack yet was still 25 meters behind the rabbits. After another slow lap (1:59.64 at 809), Morocco’s Abdelaati Iguider took the lead and injected some pace and both Americans were ready to react (Centro was in third, Leo Manzano 4th), having used the slow pace to position themselves well in the early stages of the race.

Iguider hit the bell in 2:57.23 (57.59 lap) and battled to hold the lead for the first half of the lap before Souleiman went by him on the backstretch. Centrowitz, who looked smooth as always, was right on Souleiman’s tail and moved up into second as they entered the final turn as Manzano started to fade after getting bumped going around the final turn. Souleiman really started to press on the turn but Centrowitz would not drop; Silas Kiplagat also swung wide and started to move up to challenge for the lead.

In the homestretch, Souleiman and Centrowitz dropped Kiplagat but gained a new challenger in Asbel Kiprop, who hadn’t been anywhere near the lead for most of the race (he’s been near last for some of it). It was a three-way kick between the gold and silver medalists from the most recent World Championships and last year’s World Indoor champion/World #1. This was mile racing at its finest.

In the end, the red-hot Souleiman held everyone off in 3:51.10, with Centrowitz finishing a well-deserved second and Kiprop taking third (his first defeat to Centrowitz since 2012). Kiplagat, who won the first DL 1500 of the year in Shanghai two weeks ago, was fourth while Manzano faded to 11th, though he still managed a respectable 3:53.55.

Pl.Athlete / TeamCnt.BirthResultScore
1.Ayanleh SOULEIMANDJI923:51.101187WL
2.Matthew CENTROWITZUSA893:51.201185SB
3.Asbel KIPROPKEN893:51.251185SB
4.Silas KIPLAGATKEN893:51.921176SB
5.James Kiplagat MAGUTKEN903:52.331171SB
6.Ronald KWEMOIKEN953:52.571168PB
7.Collins CHEBOIKEN873:52.631167SB
8.Johan CRONJERSA823:53.021162SB
9.Abdelaati IGUIDERMAR873:53.211159SB
10.Henrik INGEBRIGTSENNOR913:53.431157SB
11.Leonel MANZANOUSA843:53.551155SB
12.Vincent KIBETKEN913:55.651129SB
13.Aman WOTEETH843:57.341107SB
Hillary Kipkorir MAIYOKEN93DNF
Andrew Kiptoo ROTICHKEN87DNF

Quick Take #1: Ayanleh Souleiman is the world’s best miler right now

This status may change by August as Kiprop, Kiplagat and Centrowitz are all capable of challenging him, but there’s no doubt Souleiman is #1 at the moment. He won the DL 800 opener in Doha (1:43.78) and now he’s beaten the world’s best in the mile at Pre (he also ran a 13:17 5,000 on April 27 for good measure). You can’t ask for a better start to the year.

Afterwards, Souleiman was asked if he preferred the 800 or the 1500 and he indicated the 1500m is his favorite event, but with a touch of humor noted that just as someone can’t eat their favorite food all the time, sometimes he needs to mix it up noting he runs the 800 and now the occasional 5000. Souleiman has a big personality and as his English keeps improving it will be good for the sport.

Quick Take #2: Matt Centrowitz may have reached another level after his big indoor season

Centrowitz put together a terrific indoor campaign, running 2:17.00 for 1k, 3:51.35 (to win the Wanamaker Mile) and winning the U.S. title. Some wondered whether his indoor success would transfer to the outdoor track, and the answer appears to be yes. He ran very well at Oxy on May 14 (1:46.55 800) and beat almost all of the world’s greatest milers this afternoon.

Centro has run well every time but once in 2015 (10th in Birmingham 1500 in UK indoors in Feb).

The only question now is whether Centrowitz can keep up this level of performance all the way through Beijing. Running a great race on his own turf is one thing; can Centrowitz do the same in later races such as Oslo, Paris and London? The evidence so far is promising. He’s certainly in PR shape, given he missed his PR by less than a second today after going through 809 in just under 2:00. If he gets in the right race, he’s certainly got a shot to become the seventh American under 3:50.

Centro ran 3:31 last year which is equal to roughly a 3:48 mile. Placing well in the Diamond League was a nice step forward here.

Quick Take #3: There’s no point in having rabbits if no one is going to go with them

This race had two rabbits, Hillary Maiyo and Andrew Rotich, but less than a lap into the race, they were rendered useless as no one showed any interest in running with them up front (Souleiman ran slightly ahead of the pack but still not close to the rabbits). This was far from the only time this happened this weekend or this season (the first DL 1500 was won in just 3:35.29 after the field chose not to go with the rabbits). It’s fine if runners don’t want to try and break 3:30 or 3:48 every time out — in fact, it’s probably better that way. But it looks bad when there are rabbits 25 meters ahead of the pack one lap into the race. The IAAF may want to reassess how rabbits are deployed; this still turned out to be a very exciting race even though the rabbits were barely involved. If the field doesn’t go with the rabbits may they should just drop out.

Leo Manzano who dominated in his last race, the Oxy 1500m, faded the last 200m here after getting bumped around the final turn, but he said his training is going great. He’s not sure what exactly he’ll run next.

 

Women’s 1500: Jenny Simpson Continues To Dominate The Diamond League 1500 as Alexa Efraimson Pushes Mary Cain Aside

Last year Jenny Simpson was the Diamond League 1500m champion, winning in Stockholm, Zurich and finishing runner-up in Shanghai and Paris. She continued that 1500 dominance here getting the victory over a competitive field in 4:00.98 in a non Diamond League event. Behind her world 5000 silver medalist Mercy Cherono was runner-up in 4:01.26 and European champion Sifan Hassan was 3rd (4:01.65). With 100 to go it looked like the tight finish in Zurich last year between Shannon Rowbury and Simpson could repeat itself, but Rowbury was completely done in the last 100 and ended up a well beaten 4th in 4:02.28.

Behind the top four, the story was absolutely Alexa Efraimson who finished in 7th with a new US junior and high school record of 4:03.39. We have a separate article on Efraimson here as the high school senior erased Mary Cain from the top of the US record books.

The Race (video replay here)

The rabbit was Phoebe Wright and unlike the men’s Bowerman mile, someone actually went with her. Shannon Rowbury was  out hard just a bit behind Wright as she went through the first 400m in about 64. Behind Rowbury there was a small gap to Jenny Simpson who was working on closing the distance to Rowbury and had another small gap on the rest of the pack. At this point Hassan was way back in almost last place.

When Wright took Rowbury through 800 in about 2:09 the positions were about the same, but by the time Wright stepped off at 900m Simpson was right on Rowbury’s heals and soon the whole pack was right there as well. Simpson sat on Rowbury as Hassan moved up to third as they hit the bell in roughly 2:59.

Rowbury continued to lead on the backstretch, but Simpson stayed right on her shoulder waiting while Hassan continued on the rail in 3rd, but was boxed in a bit by Cherono who moved next to her in the outside of lane 1. Behind those four many more women were still right there with 200m remaining, including Katie Mackey, Emma Coburn and Alexa Efraimson who was going wide into lane 2 trying to pass.

Down the homestretch it was the Jenny Simpson show as she powered past Rowbury looking quick and smooth and took the win in 4:00.98. Hassan had gone wide to get out of the box and she and Cherono closed well themselves, but Simpson was never in danger as Cherono took 2nd .39 ahead of Hassan. Rowbury was completely spent and had no response when the other three women went by her, but was able to place fourth.

Efraimson was in the mix with nearly the entire field on the final lap and she held on for a huge 4:03.39 pr. She was not the only American with a big pr as Sarah Brown just ahead of her in 6th pr’d with a 4:03.20 (previous pr 4:05.27) and Katie Mackey in 8th in 4:03.81 prd (4:04.60 previous best).

Results:

    1 Simpson , Jennifer               USA    4:00.98                   
    2 Cherono , Mercy                  KEN    4:01.26                   
    3 Hassan , Sifan                   NED    4:01.65                   
    4 Rowbury , Shannon                USA    4:02.28                   
    5 Embaye , Axumawit                ETH    4:03.00                   
    6 Brown , Sarah                    USA    4:03.20                   
    7 Efraimson , Alexa                USA    4:03.39                   
    8 Mackey , Katie                   USA    4:03.81                   
    9 Moser , Treniere                 USA    4:04.26                   
   10 Plis , Renata                    POL    4:04.78                   
   11 Coburn , Emma                    USA    4:05.10                   
   12 Buckman , Zoe                    AUS    4:06.30                   
   13 England , Hannah                 GBR    4:19.26
      Praught , Aisha                  USA        DNF                   
      Wright , Phoebe                  USA        DNF

Quick Take #1: Is Jenny Simpson The Early Favorite For The 2015 World 1500 Title?

Let’s review. In 2011 Simpson shocked the world and herself by becoming the world 1500 champion. 2011 was a strange year in the 1500 as the fastest time ran was 4:00.06 byMorgan Uceny and some called Simpson’s win a fluke, especially after she didn’t perform well at the 2012 Olympics. But fast forward to 2013 and Simpson proved herself by getting silver behind Abeba Aregawi, who was just straight-up better than Simpson that year. Then last year Simpson was the Diamond League champion.

Now here she is in an early season race getting a convincing win over Cherono and Hassan while Genzebe Dibaba is focused (at least temporarily) on the 5000 and the reigning world champ, Aregawi, is finishing far back in her races (4:04.42 for 7th in Doha, 1:59.98 here for 4th in the 800). It’s very early, but 4-years after her shock win in Daegu, Simpson will certainly be in the hunt for another world title.

Quick Take #2: Simpson Was Happy To Win At Pre For The First Time And Hayward For The First Time In 6 Years

After the race, Simpson said the following when interviewed by NBC, “When I was warming up, I overheard the announcers asking an athlete, ‘What does it means to win at  Pre? What’s one word?’ And for me this is where legends win and where they’re born, and so for me I have a lot of history here and a lot of wins here so I am trying to write my name in the history books.”

We looked back at the stats and Simpson actually hasn’t won at Hayward Field since 2009 when she won the steeplechase at USAs and she’s never won at the Pre Classic until now (she has two runner-up finishes) so this was a significant win for Simpson.

Talking about her tactics Simpson said it was hard to sit back in second place until the end. “That’s hard for me I led so much last year. I feel really comfortable on the inside of lane one and I like to press and press and grind out.” But she knew Coach Mark Wetmore wanted her to stick to the plan so she was patient and waited until the final straight to take the lead.

Quick Take #3: Rowbury And Hassan Probably Hurt Their Chances In The First Lap

In this race Rowbury and Hassan took opposite approaches as after the first lap Rowbury was right on the rabbit with a gap to the field and Hassan was in dead last. Neither tactic helped them out at the end of the race as Rowbury ran a harder first lap than anyone else in the field, but then was caught immediately after the rabbit dropped and had the field drafting off her for the next 400m. Hassan was extremely far back after the first 500m and had to make up a lot of ground just to be in contention with a lap to go. Hassan also got herself boxed in in with 200 to go and had to make an awkward move out to lane two to try and pass.

Maybe Rowbury wouldn’t have been able to finish any higher with different pacing (she was actually pretty even with splits), but Hassan definitely hurt her chances with poor tactics.

Rowbury afterwards said she wanted to be aggressive, so while leading wasn’t ideal it was just one step in her progress as a runner.

Quick Take #3: The TV Announcers Completely Missed Alex Efraimson

American history was made in the women’s 1500 here at Pre, but no one watching at home would have ever known. Alexa Efraimson ran 4:03.39 to place 7th and set a US junior and high school record, breaking the mark set previously set by Mary Cain. Come on TV crew, do your homework. They could maybe be forgiven for this if the record was 20-years old and Efraimson wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but that’s not that case at all. Efraimson’s name was ever mentioned on the NBC broadcast. Unbelievable. Mary Cain was the media darling and now Efraimson trumps Cain and she doesn’t even get mentioned.

We’re going to have a separate article on Efraimson but our post-race interview with her is below. Plus we talked to her prom date (sub 4 high school miler Matthew Maton)about her run here.

simpsonQuick Take #4: The Difference In Closing Speed Between Simpson And Others Is Amazing

Look at this screen shot from the race with less than 200m to go. So many women still right in it including Mackey, Efraimson and Coburn. But just look how far back they finish in the end. Mackey lost by almost 3-seconds; Coburn lost by almost 5-seconds in the final 150m. That’s a lot of time to lose in the final kick of a race.

Quick Take #5: Positive Step For Emma Coburn

Emma Coburn was well beaten here finishing 9th in Emma 4:05.10. But this is a great result for her as it’s actually a PR (previous best 4:05.29) and a huge improvement on the 4:10 she ran at the USATF High Performance Meet a couple of weeks ago. We can’t wait to see what she does in her first steeple this year.

QT #6: Poor Sarah Brown and Katie Mackey

Brown and Mackey both keep getting better, but here they were upstaged by Simpson, Rowbury, and Efraimson even though Brown beat Efraimson. American 1500m running is tremendously good right now and with Simpson getting a bye for worlds, and Rowbury looking like a lock, Brown, Mackey and Efraimson could be battling for the final three Worlds spots.

Women’s 1500 chatter on our world famous messageboards:

Men’s International Mile: Ben Blankenship’s Hot Streak Continues

Can Ben Blankenship and Timothy Cheruiyot race each other every week? On May 3, the two runners delivered a thrilling anchor leg in the DMR at the World Relays and they waged another thrilling battle on Saturday with Blankenship grabbing the win just before the line in 3:55.72 with a 55-second last lap.

The Race (video replay here)

The field had no interest in going with the rabbits as they hit 809 meters in a pedestrian 2:01.80. Rabbit Mark Wieczorek had about 40 meters on the main pack at that point before dropping out; Cheruiyot and Blankenship sat in first and second among the racers.

Blankenship was jubilant as he crossed the line

Blankenship was jubilant as he crossed the line

Cheruiyot dropped the pace on the third lap, running a 58.1 (2:59.9 at the bell) but the relatively slow pace meant that a lot of guys were still in the race. On the backstretch, Blankenship made a bid for the lead, but Cheruiyot countered the move and held him off. With 150 to go, Blankenship again tried to go by and Cheruiyot again held him off as those two and Kenya’s World Junior champ Jonathan Sawe began to pull away from the field. Midway through the homestretch, Blankenship made his third bid for the lead, but as he pulled up on Cheruiyot’s outside shoulder, he found himself blocked. Sawe had been making up ground on Blankenship’s outside and Blankenship found himself squeezed between the two of them with no room to maneuver.

Instead of panicking, Blankenship ducked inside and went for the pass on the inside, which Cheruiyot had left open as he drifted into lane two to hold off Sawe. The fourth time was the charm for Blankenship as he accelerated quickly to beat his Kenyan rivals to the finish in 3:55.72. Sawe just edged Cheruiyot for second in 3:55.76 as the top three were separated by just .08 of a second in a tight finish.

Garrett Heath was the next-best American in fifth at 3:56.53. OTC runners Andrew Wheating (12th, 4:00.35) and Mac Fleet (13th, 4:03.04) both struggled.

Pl.Athlete / TeamCnt.BirthResultScore
1.Ben BLANKENSHIPUSA883:55.721128SB
2.Jonathan Kiplimo SAWEKEN953:55.761127PB
3.Timothy CHERUIYOTKEN953:55.801127PB
4.Jakub HOLUŠACZE883:56.391119PB
5.Garrett HEATHUSA853:56.531117SB
6.Ryan GREGSONAUS903:56.781114SB
7.Patrick CASEYUSA903:57.281108SB
8.Charlie GRICEGBR933:57.801102SB
9.Abdi Waiss MOUHYADINDJI963:57.971100PB
10.Lopez LOMONGUSA853:59.061086SB
11.Federico BRUNOARG934:00.311071PB
12.Andrew WHEATINGUSA874:00.351070SB
13.Mac FLEETUSA904:03.041037SB
14.Jake WIGHTMANGBR944:05.191012SB
Mark WIECZOREKUSA84DNF
Julian MATTHEWSNZL88DNF

Quick Take #1: Ben Blankenship is officially the favorite for the third spot on Team USA at Worlds

After his Bowerman Mile performance, Matthew Centrowitz is the favorite for the U.S. title, and though Blankenship ran faster than Leo Manzano today, Manzano’s track record is enough to give him the nod for the #2 spot. But Blankenship’s performance today, in addition to his anchor leg at the World Relays and his fourth-place finish in Shanghai, makes him the clear choice for the third spot right now.

There’s still a month to go until USAs, during which time the order may shift. But Blankenship is on a roll, and he knows that anything less than a top-three finish at USAs will be a disappointment.

If I don’t make the World team then all this will be for nothing,” Blankenship told NBC Sports Network after the race.

Afterwards, Blankenship was pleased with his win, but would have no comment on being snubbed for the Bowerman Mile despite anchoring the US to the gold medal at World Relays and performing well at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai. Blankenship’s no comment was all that was needed to show his displeasure.

Quick Take #2: Not a good sign for Andrew Wheating

Wheating’s last race at the Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic was a step in the right direction as he clearly had the second-best kick in the race, losing out only to Leo Manzano in a solid field of Americans. It’s not time to panic, but today’s race certainly wasn’t what he was looking for as Wheating was never a serious factor, winding up 12th.

In fact, this race wasn’t a good sign for any American outside of Blankenship (and perhaps Garrett Heath) as Blankenship seemed to be running on a totally different level today even though the race wasn’t particularly fast. With only three spots available on Team USA, guys like Pat Casey and Lopez Lomong will certainly want to have been more competitive in this field.

After the race,  Wheating took responsibility for his poor run, saying he let a bunch of different race ideas cloud his mind. He initially wanted to go out hard with the rabbits, and when that didn’t happen he never found a rhythm.

We do think it’s a good sign that Wheating has tried to go with the rabbits in each of his two races, as that probably means his training has been going well, but he seems to do best when he just gets in the pack and races like Leo Manzano.


Mo Farah wins Prefontaine Classic 10K with fourth-fastest time ever at Hayward Field

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Mo Farah leads the 10,000 meter run and went on to win at the Pre Classic at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Thomas Boyd/Staff
Andrew Greif | The Oregonian/OregonLiveBy Andrew Greif | The Oregonian/OregonLive 
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on May 29, 2015 at 10:59 PM, updated May 30, 2015 at 12:08 AM
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EUGENE — Mo Farah's past three years have been so charmed that even things the British distance-running star is loosely associated with tend to turn to gold.

After Farah's gold-medal sweep of the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at both the 2012 London Olympics and world outdoor championships a year later — becoming only the second man to achieve track's "double-double" — a blog about Farah became, for a brief stretch, as popular as the star himself. Called "Mo Farah Running Away From Things," it showed exactly that. The most popular entry spliced a Photoshopped image of Farah, in his typical victory celebration of outstretched arms and wide-open mouth, as if 




frightened and looking for help — in front of a charging bear. The blog was last updated in 2013.

Its namesake, meanwhile, has kept going, pulling away from everyone who steps on a track with him.

Farah's four-year undefeated streak in the 10,000 meters remained intact Friday at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field, with his world-leading victory in 26 minutes, 50.97 seconds — his fastest 10K since 2011, when he set his PR of 26:46.57 — in a 19-man field creating thunderous applause unheard of all evening during the opening night of the two-day meet.

It was the fourth-fastest 10,000 in Hayward Field history.

Farah's Nike Oregon Project teammate Cam Levins smashed the Canadian record by 15 seconds, finishing in fourth in 27:07.51.

Despite it all, Farah was more perturbed than pleased, saying the race was, in reality, something of a bear.

He said he didn't come close to his goal of a mid-26:30 finish because of an inconsistent pace. He cited the lack a rabbit for the final 5,000 and the work of sharing the lead for that final stretch that he and second-place finisher Paul Tanui of Kenya (26:51.86) had agreed upon beforehand. But he said that third-place finisher Geoffrey Kamworor (26:52.65) indicated he wouldn't help.

"My goal was definitely to run faster, training's been going very well so it's one of those things where you just kind of might as well go for it," Farah said. "That was the aim but it was pretty difficult, actually."

Appearances were deceiving, then, because Farah's bouncy strides against didn't make it look very hard. His last loss in the event was Aug. 28, 2011.

In third with a mile to go, Farah took the lead for good with 350 meters remaining. At 200 meters, Kamworor nearly caught up — but Farah's kick put him ahead a comfortable 15 meters at the finish.

"I was just making sure I had something left toward the end but I just didn't want to go all out and show my cards," Farah said. "At the same time I try to win the race. At that point with one lap to go I thought, I should win this race."

He remains golden.