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Lagat Ties “Chairman of the Boards” at Millrose

Lagat ties the Chairman; Hooker scares Bubka’s record at Millrose Games

NEW
YORK – On the track and in the field, Bernard Lagat and Steven Hooker
kept 11,543 fans on their feet Friday night at the 102nd Millrose
Games. A longtime Madison Square Garden favorite, Lagat tied Eamonn
Coghlan’s record with his seventh Wanamaker mile victory, while Hooker
posted the best indoor pole vault in the world since 2002, breaking
several records in the process.

 
The first stop of USATF’s 2009 Indoor Visa Championship Series,
the Millrose Games will be broadcast by NBC from 1:30-2:30 p.m. 
Eastern Time on Saturday. Check local listings. The Co-Chairman In
tying Coghlan’s seven victories, Lagat became the “Co-Chairman of the
Boards,” but it wasn’t without a fight in the evening’s climactic
event. With a pacesetter  towing Lagat through a 56.9 quarter mile and
1:57.8 half-mile, the pace slowed to 3:00.2 at three-quarters, with
Lagat leading Olympic bronze medalist Nick Willis by a stride. 
 
Owning six Wanamaker titles, a pair of 2007 world championships
and two Olympic medals, Lagat knew to expect a move by Willis. That
move came with 1 å_ laps to go on the 145-meter track, when Willis burst
past Lagat on the backstretch. Lagat appeared momentarily stunned but
quickly responded and got on the New Zealander’s shoulder. Just after
the bell lap, Lagat began his move, and he passed Willis on the
backstretch. He won in 3:58.44, with Willis second in 3:59.48 and Pablo
Solares third in 4:00.85. His historic performance earned Lagat the
Team USA Athlete of the Meet award, presented by Visa. 
 
Hooker’s heights 
 
In his first competition since winning the Olympic gold medal in
August, Steven Hooker stunned even himself with a near-world-record
performance in the Fred Schmertz men’s pole vault. The charismatic
Aussie won the competition with a first-attempt clearance at
5.70m/18-8.25, then made 5.88m/19-3.5 on his third attempt to break
Jeff Hartwig’s Millrose record of 5.87m/19-3 and break his own
Australian indoor record of 5.81m/19-0.75.  
 
He wasn’t done, next clearing 6.01m/19-8.5 on his first attempt to
set Australian, Millrose Games and Madison Square Garden records. It
eclipsed his own outdoor personal best mark of 6.00m/19-8.25, was the
highest indoor vault ever on U.S. soil and made him the #4 vaulter in
history. He moved the bar to 6.16m/20-2.5 to take aim at Sergey Bubka’s
world record of 6.15m/20-2, set in 1993. After two decent attempts, he
gave the bar a good look on his third try, serving notice that Bubka
may have to keep his eye on this latest challenger. More than a foot
behind him, Hooker left Olympic fourth-place finisher Derek Miles
(5.70m/18-8.25) and Giovanni Lanaro of Mexico (5.60m/18-4). 
 
Jenn Stuczynski threatened record books in the Gill women’s vault,
but not before she got a scare from a legend. In a small field,
American indoor record holder and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Stacy
Dragila matched Stuczynski’s heights as both women cleared
4.61m/15-1.5. It was Dragila’s best jump since she broke the American
records indoors (4.81m/15-9.25) and outdoors in 2004 (4.83m/15-10). Yet
only Stuczynski cleared 4.71m/15-5, which she accomplished on her first
vault, before taking a shot at the American record at 4.82m/15-9.75. A
huge clearance on her third attempt ended with her hitting the bar on
the way down, keeping Dragila’s name in tact on the AR lists. 
 
Goucher makes it 2-0 in the mile
In yet another amazing New York City performance, 2007 World
Outdoor 10,000m bronze medalist Kara Goucher crushed the field in the
NYRR women’s mile. A freshly minted marathoner after placing third at
the 2008 New York City marathon, Goucher took the lead Friday night at
the half mile, then made it a one-woman race. She crossed the line in
4:33.19 for her second straight Millrose win, well ahead of Marina
Muncan of Serbia in 4:37.77 and Mestawot Tadesse of Ethiopia in 4:38.30.
In the circle 
 
The Visa men’s shot put produced yet another close competition as
three of the world’s best traded tosses. Heading into the fourth and
final round of competition, 2007 world champion Reese Hoffa and Olympic
silver medalist Christian Cantwell both had best throws of
20.48m/67-2.25. In the final round, Cantwell improved to
20.53m/67-4.25, only to be outdone by Nelson, who took his second
consecutive Millrose victory with a final throw of 20.79m/68-2.5. 
 
On the straightaway 
 
In a rematch of the women’s 100m hurdles silver and bronze
medalists from Beijing, Sally McClellan of Australia and Priscilla
Lopes-Schliep of Canada turned in a thrilling race in the women’s 60m
hurdles. The Olympic silver medalists, McClellan got out well and was
in the lead until the final stride of the race, when Lopes-Schliep
nudged ahead to successfully defend her Millrose title in a
world-leading time of 7.95 seconds. McClellan was second in 7.96 and
Tiffany Ofili of the United States was third in 8.02. 
 
The men’s 60m hurdles was much less dramatic, with two-time
Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell dominating in 7.45 seconds,
the fastest time in the world this year and just .02 off Allen
Johnson’s Millrose Games records. In a race contested after a pair of
false starts, Antwon Hicks was second in 7.64, with Hector Cotto third
in 7.72. 
 
The 60m dashes produced two first-time winners in their first
outings. In his Millrose Games debut, and after enduring three false
starts, 2008 U.S. indoor champion Michael Rodgers denied Trammell a
double victory, winning the Visa men’s 60m in a world-leading,
personal-best time of 6.51. Trammell was second in 6.54, and two-time
Olympic 200m medalist Shawn Crawford was third in 6.62.
In the women’s race, first-year pro Bianca Knight won her first
Millrose title in 7.23, with Olympic Trials 100m champion Muna Lee
second in 7.28 and Mechelle Lewis third in 7.29.
 
Seaman wins another one    
The New York Athletic Club’s very own Tim Seaman won his fifth
career title in the Susan M. Rudin men’s 1 mile race walk, finishing in
6:02.58 to defeat his training partner, Andreas Gustafsson of Sweden
(6:04.54), with Mike Tarantino in third (6:08.58). With the race
serving as a national championship event, Seaman tallied the 34th
national title of his career. Teresa Vaill won her second consecutive
national title in the women’s 1 mile race walk, finishing as the first
American in the race, finishing in 6:51.33. Rachel Lavallee of Canada
won the overall race in a Millrose Games record 6:47.45, with Vaill
second and Solomiya Login third in 7:09.21.
 
High school miler magic 
 
Jillian Smith of Southern Regional High School won her second
straight title in the adidas girls’ mile run. After sitting fourth for
the first stages of the race behind Melanie Thompson of Voorhees HS,
she took over the race and threatened the meet record before finishing
in a swift 4:51.88. Cory McGee of Pass Christian was second in 4:54.59,
and Emily Lipari of Roslyn was third in 4:57.70.  In the boys’ mile,
2008 Millrose runner-up Robby Andrews of Manalapan used a fantastic
final lap to win in 4:17.42 over Bret Johnson of Ocean City (4:19.61)
and Mark Feigan of East Greenwich (4:20.43).
Other elite event winners included Amy Acuff taking her fifth
Millrose title in the John Thomas women’s high jump with a clearance of
1.92m/6-3.5; Monica Hargrove out-leaning Aliann Pompey of Guyana in the
women’s 600m, 1:19.50 to 1:19.51; Renny Quow of Trinidad winning the
Mel Sheppard men’s 600 in 1:11.32; Amber Campbell taking the women’s
weight throw (23.33m /76-6.5) and Jake Freeman winning the men’s weight
throw (23.77m/78-0). 
 
Athlete quotes, 102nd Millrose Games
Bernard Lagat, Wanamaker Mile winner: “The
race was good. I was prepared coming in. I had been training very well.
I feel fast, I feel fresh. It’s good to come back and win. Ending up
the season not winning a lot last year because of the injury I had, to
start the year with the win, this is not another race for me. This race
means a lot. I have a lot of respect for Eamonn Coghlan. Today, winning
seven like him means a lot to me. He is a man who was rooting for me
today. He wanted me to win today, so that means a lot. He told me he
had no doubt that I was going to win. Today when he was coming into the
track, he said ‘I will be at the finish line to give Lagat the trophy.’
On Willis’ move: “I had enough reserve in the tank. As you
guys could see, after the pacemaker dropped, I didn’t want to go all
out. I knew it (Willis’ move) was going to happen, it was just a matter
of if it would be with 3 laps to go or 2 laps to go. My coach and I had
discussed to take advantage of the last backstretch. I took advantage
of that to come back and win. It is tough to pass on the turn. It is
really wide.
I’ve been running here since 2001. I think I’ve run and gotten
in different situations in the race. I remember when Laban Rotich
passed me in 2003, he caught me by surprise. If somebody surprises you,
you have to be able to go instantly. In this tight track, if you wait
for too long, it’s going to be too late.
On if he wants to repeat his double victory at World Outdoors:
“Yes, I hope so. Last year I was in good shape and trained so well
through the Trials. After the Trials, I got an Achilles tendon problem.
It became a big problem three weeks before the Olympics. If I train
like this, no problems, I could see myself running well like I did
since 2007. … I would love to run the New York City Marathon, either
competitively or for fun.”
 
Nick Willis, 2nd in Wanamaker mile:
“It went pretty much to plan for the first half of the race. I
thought the requested pace would be a little fast, so I purposely held
back. I was supposed to take the lead with 3.5 laps to go in my mind,
but I wasn’t quite feeling it, so I decided to wait. The last chance to
go around him, I had to make a really sudden move, and I think that
zapped a bit out of my legs. We battled it out, and the crowd really
got behind it, but I didn’t have it in my legs because of that first
move. It was important to make sure Kip (Lagat) had a challenging run,
and I’m glad he didn’t have a walk in the park. The crowd enjoyed it.
It was nice to be part of history.”
Steven Hooker, men’s pole vault champion:
“It was a little unexpected. I’ve had a really interrupted
preparation. I’ve had one complete pole vault before I came here. About
four weeks ago I broke a pole while I was jumping and it hit my knee,
and I haven’t vaulted since then. To come out here and jump a personal
best is a bit of a surprise, and to have such good jumps at the world
record, is very exciting and very surprising.
He (Bubka) is the benchmark in pole vault. That’s the first
time I ever put the bar up to his world record. I think that’s a good
experience, particularly in the first meet of the year. Hopefully I’ll
get a couple more shots in coming weeks. I’d like to think that I’ve
got more in me. The more jumps I do, hopefully my technique will become
more solid. I’m not going to get too ahead of myself, but it’s
definitely a good way to start the season.
“My last jump (at the world record), I felt, was really,
really good. I probably just need a bigger pole and I’ll get closer. I
think I blew into it a bit. Either I need to push the stands back a bit
or just get on a bigger pole. I think it’s achievable, after attempting
it. Even now, I can’t believe I’ve just attempted the world record.
I’ll go watch videos of the competition with my coach, but right now,
I’m just happy. There’s not much more I can say.”
Kara Goucher, NYRR women’s mile winner:
“I was ready to do something a little different today. My coach
talked to me about taking the lead at the half mile and slowing it
down, which is something I never do. So I took the lead and was waiting
for someone to come up on me, but they didn’t.”
On her fast time: “I
ran 4:39 on my own a couple of weeks ago. The pace (at Millrose) was
out pretty quick, and if I hadn’t faded the last couple of laps, it
might have been faster. My stride is a shuffle, so my coach told me,
when you want to move fast, don’t stride out. Try to make it quick.
On
how the mile reflects her marathon training: The mile tells me I’m not
doing too much. Alberto (Salazar, her coach) says doing the shorter
races is a good indicator. When you’re training for a marathon, you may
feel a little burnt. In an 80-mile week, which is what I’ll end up at
this week, I can still run a 4:33 mile. Apparently, he’s not pushing me
hard enough. I’m running 18 miles on Sunday.
“I love New York. It’s a great city. I didn’t start racing in New York until last year, and I didn’t know what I was missing.”

Teresa Vaill, women’s 1 mile race walk national champion:

 “It was a great race today. I’m happy I did it. I like coming to
New York because I am from here. But I’m not really training for
indoors, just preparing for outdoors. I’m working towards Outdoor
Nationals to secure a spot on the World Championships team. I’ve been
race walking for 25 years. I’m starting to get into coaching to get
more people involved in the walk. We need more young people in the
sport. “
Tim Seaman, men’s 1 mile race walk national champion:
“That’s #34 in the bag (total national titles). I had two paddles
(penalties) there at the end, so I just tried to be cautious on the
last 400 meters. I slowed a little and really concentrated on my form
and I got it.”
Jillian Smith, adidas girls’ 1 mile run winner:
“Going into the race, I wasn’t really aiming for the record. When
you’re in a fast race against fast people, you’ll run fast times. I was
just going in looking for the win and seeing the best I could do.
That’s what I did tonight. Being a veteran on the track, it’s a lot
easier on the turns, and you know when people are going to make their
moves. The race would have had a much different outcome if it was a
non-banked track. I’m just really glad it’s over. All the anticipation
and expectations, all the history on this track, I’m glad I could be
part of it. I feel pressure going into every race. I’m just glad I was
able to do well tonight.”
Monica Hargrove, women’s 600 yard run winner:
“I wanted to be at the break first. She (Aliann Pompey) got out
really fast and ran me out to the outside. I just tucked in behind her
and thought if I had anything left, I would just bring it home. I
thought I was going to be able to pass her pretty easily, but she had
another gear, too. That was the first time I ever dipped in a race, and
it was my first 600.”
Amy Acuff, John Thomas women’s high jump winner:
“I just moved back to my long approach last week, so I’m not
super-confident getting that dialed back in yet, but I generally feel
explosive, so I think it’s going to be a good season. The whole
experience, coming to New York City, there are people in the stands who
have been coming here for 40, 50 years. That just gives it more meaning
for me. There were some kinks there to be expected this early in the
indoor season. This is my last season competing, so this will be my
last Millrose, with 90 percent certainty. I believe in the adage to
leave before they kick you out. I don’t want to get to the point where
I’m really struggling. I want to go snow skiing, I want to do other
dangerous activities!”
Robby Andrews, boys’ 1 mile run winner:
“It was slow, but I tried to stay in the top five throughout the
race. I learned a lot from last year. All the hard work and the torture
my coach puts me through, it’s worth it. I’ve been training pretty
hard.
“The track is incredibly hard to run on. You feel like
you’re going out really fast, but you’ll be going through (half-way) in
2:15 or 2:16. You’ve just got to be there in the end. I thought it was
gong to be a lot faster. Bret (Johnson) was right in front of me and
these guys were coming pretty hard, but luckily it paid off. I’ve been
training a lot harder than I have been in the past. I haven’t really
been in the weight room. I hoped that I had it, but Bret, he and I had
a run in at meet of champs last year and he blew me out of the water.
(On winning at Millrose) It’s the greatest feeling ever. I can
definitely get used to it. I was so excited. I’ve never really had that
feeling before in the mile. Running in Madison Square Garden, it’s just
surreal. I’m grateful to have the opportunity.”
Amber Campbell, women’s weight throw winner:
“It was a good competition.  I had fun and was ready to throw
big.  I got started a little rough, but by the end I finally got it
together. I was blessed with another good opportunity to compete.”:
 
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, women’s 60m hurdles:
“To come back and win back-to-back (Millrose titles), I’m really
excited. Not many people get to do that. This was only my second hurdle
race of the year. I’m very, very excited. Sally (McClellan) has a
really good start, and I’ve known that from the get-go. I just kept
telling myself get down and run between the hurdles. It was really
exciting.  I’ve got to start here every year from now on. I love it.
There is no meet like Millrose. To start my season off well again is
starting in the right footsteps. I’m going back to Toronto. I’ll try to
run a new personal best this year. In February I leave for Europe to
run a few races over there.”
 
Bianca Knight, adidas women’s 60m dash winner:
“I was a little jumpy at the start. I caused the first false
start. I apologized to the ladies because I probably made them sit in
the blocks a little. I felt pretty good. It was my first Millrose
Games, so to come out with a win, I’m excited. It’s really noisy in
here, even after they tell the crowd to be quiet. Over the years, I
became good running indoors. This year I decided my goal is to break
the 200 (world) record indoors at Fayetteville (the Tyson Invitational
on February 13).”
Terrence Trammell, men’s 60m hurdles winner:
“With the hurdles I basically wanted to be sure I had a good
start. There is a dip in the first five meters of the straightaway. If
you’re not careful, you’ll tend to overstride and drop your hips. I
wanted to make sure I was very technically sound and I was running off
each hurdle aggressively. I think I did that for the most part. I
haven’t been in competition since in the middle of July, so I’m glad to
get a race under my belt. I wanted to stay poised and run the best race
possible.
On his second-place finish in the Visa men’s 60m dash:
“Since we had three starts in the hurdles and four in the dash,, I had
about seven starts tonight. I’m glad I was able to stay focused. Mike
(Rodgers) is an up-and-comer. He’s really strong and really talented.
This gave me a good measurement of where I am in my training. It was a
great race and I’m definitely pleased with how I performed tonight.”
Michael Rodgers, Visa men’s 60m winner:
“It’s pretty awesome, but I had to sit in the blocks because of
the false start. It’s a pretty good opening for me. It’s a PR, so I’m
pretty happy. At worlds, it cost me a medal, so I had to focus in. My
start was OK, so-so. I didn’t panic because I know I have top-end
speed.”
Jenn Stuczynski, Gill women’s pole vault winner:
“There is definitely a lot of nerves in my first competition of
the year. You don’t know what to expect. Stacy (Dragila) was jumping
really well, so it pushed me. That was nice to have. The American
record heights, two of them I thought (the bars) were going to stay,
but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I kind of had to tell myself, I
wasn’t sure at .51 when Stacy made it and at .61 she had a good
attempt, I thought I could see me getting second again. But I said I
can’t think like that, and it was good to get a win. There were some
technical things I was working on tonight, but at the same time I
question myself on some of the poles I should be on. I kind of
contradicted myself today. The indoor season is going to be trusting
myself.
Stacy Dragila, 2nd in Gill women’s vault:
“It was fun to fly high again. That was the most consistent set of
jumps I’ve had in years. Having a full fall of training gives me
confidence. This year, I just want to give myself a chance to redeem
myself and go out with flying colors, since this will be my last year
competing.”
Adam Nelson, Visa men’s shot put winner:
“It started off kind of slow tonight. This is still very early in
the season for us. Normally we have one or two open meets before this
meet. This was my season opener, so it took me a while to get my
competition timing. I think also the fact we were about 25 minutes
behind schedule messed us up a little…Every year the fans here at the
Millrose Games are just phenomenal. They make this competition
worthwhile, no matter how far we throw.”
On fatherhood: “It’s
phenomenal. All the clichÌÄå©s they use to say how much you’ll appreciate
that baby and how it’ll change your life are absolutely true. I
remember thinking, no, it’s not going to make that big a difference.
Really, you finally learn the meaning of unconditional love. Christian
(Cantwell, also a new dad) and I have talked a couple of times about
our experiences, and  I think he feels the same way. We said the exact
same thing about it today. You don’t realize how much you can love
somebody. It’s been a great growing experience. It gives you
perspective. From the training perspective, it’s actually helped in a
lot. It gives you something to train for. … I finished my MBA in
December (at the University of Virginia). My wife is finishing law
school (at UVA) in May, and we’re moving back to Athens, Georgia, to
open a yogurt store there. We’re pretty excited about the opportunity.
It’ll be called Moyo. When I was a kid, my name was Mo, and of course
Yo for yogurt.”

About USA Track & Field
 
USA
Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and
field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States.
USATF encompasses the world’s oldest organized sports, some of the
most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and
junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult
runners in the United States.
 
For more information on USATF, visit
www.usatf.org

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