Pre Classic Stands & Delivers

Page numero uno of the 4-page Track section in the July/August issue of NER.

The Pre Classic in Eugene Oregon on June 7 opened with field events 15 minutes before going live for two hours on NBC and, as they say, there’s nothing like being there‰ÛÓespecially when ‘there’ is hallowed Hayward Field.

The rhythmic clapping starts immediately, and not just for select athletes. With it’s home stretch overhang, the noise drifts outward to the track and the athletes respond‰ÛÓlike long jumper Dwight Phillips after soaring for a meet record 28-08.25.

Phillips thought he might have gotten the American record and got so pumped he responded to the crowd’s standing ovation by charging toward the stands with arms upraised, just missing the leaders of the 3000m men’s race.

There were plenty of world leading times and dynamic moments throughout the meet. One of the highlights had to be the women’s 1500m. Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka, the meet record holder at 4:00.44 and the 2009 world leader, opened a gap after a torrid pace, but in a final crowd-jolting sprint down the homestretch, US steeplechase record holder Jenny Barringer came within .01 of stealing the show.

At 3:59.90, the University of Colorado senior set an NCAA record and became just the third US woman to break four minutes for the metric mile (behind Mary Slaney and Suzy Favor Hamilton). Also running a fantastic race was Greenwood, Maine native Anna Willard, who placed fourth in 4:01.44.

PHOTO: With world leader Gelete Burka having already spread out the pack
early, the inside row of pursuit includes (front to back), Greenwood,
Maine native Anna Willard, collegiate phenom Jenny Barringer and
Marblehead, Massachusetts native Shalane Flanagan. Photo by FitzFoto

In the men’s mile, US record holder Alan Webb ran a season best 3:55.99…and finished 10th‰ÛÓyes, 10th!‰ÛÓas 13 runners broke four minutes led by Olympic silver medalist Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, who ran a personal best of 3:48.50 ahead of countryman Haron Keitany (3:48.78).

With the homestand overhead amplifying the crowd’s crescendo, Oregon Track Club ace Nick Symmonds took down a lot of big names in the 800m. Unleashing his patented kick over the last 120m, Symmonds (a former D3 guy no less) muscled around the turn to overtake Beijing bronze medalist Alfred Yego and win in 1:45.86.

The US also fared quite well in the 3000. This was really a duel between US double world champion Bernard Lagat and Beijing Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Saif Shaheen of Qatar. With Americans Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegankamp holding form in the 3-4 positions, Lagat held off Shaheen down the straightway to win in 7:35.92 with Shaheen at 7:36.87. Solinsky arrived in 7:37.05 and Tegankamp in 7:37.32.
PHOTO: Underdog Nick Symmonds pulls out another one in front of the Hayward Field fans. Photo by Victah/Photo Run

As the 12,841 fans filed out of the meet, we ran into Reebok Boston Indoor Games meet director Mark Wetmore, the agent for 100m sensation Mike Rogers. Earlier, Rodgers had run 9.94 to outgun former world record holder Asafa Powell. A friend ran up to Rodgers and tapped him on the shoulder. “I didn’t think you had it in you,” he laughed.

Therein lies the magic of this meet. With Pre’s memory everpresent, there are no tactical races here. If athletes are going to step up and heed the call to outperform preconceptions, Pre is the place.
‰ÛÓBob Fitzgerald

Nike Prefontaine Classic, Eugene, Oregon, June 7
Men’s 800: 1. Nick Symmonds, Oregon TC, 1:45.86; 2. Alfred Kirwa Yego, KEN, 1:46.21; 3. Christian Smith, Oregon TC, 1:46.3; 4. Gary Reed, CAN, 1:46.37; 5. Khadevis Robinson, US, 1:46.64. Mile: 1. Asbel Kiprop, KEN, 3:48.50; 2. Haron Keitany, KEN, 3:48.78; 3. Nate Brannen, CAN, 3:52.63; 4. Belal Mansoor Ali, BRN, 3:53.05; 5. Nicholas Kiptanui Kemboi, KEN, 3:53.43; 6. Lopez Lomong, US, 3:53.47; 7. Evan Jager, US, 3:54.35; 8. Shedrack Kibet Korir, KEN, 3:54.77; 9. Henok Legesse, ETH, 3:54.81; 10. Alan Webb, US, 3:55.99; 11. Peter van der Westhuizen, RSA, 3:56.26; 12. Will Leer, US, 3:56.63; 13. Leonel Manzano, US, 3:58.68. 3000m: 1. Bernard Lagat, US, 7:35.92; 2. Saif Saaeed Shaheen, QAT, 7:36.87; 3. Chris Solinsky, US, 7:37.05; 4. Matt Tegenkamp, US, 7:37.32; 5. Alistair Cragg, IRL, 7:37.84; 6. Eliud Kipchoge, KEN, 7:38.24. 3000m Steeplechase: 1. Paul Kipsiele Koech, KEN,  8:13.44; 2. Roba Gary, ETH, 8:21.22; 3. Josh McAdams, US, 8:26.55; 4. Luke Watson, US, 8:27.09; 5. Ben Bruce, US, 8:33.11; 6. Kyle Alcorn, US, 8:34.02. Women’s 800: 1. Maggie Vessey, US, 2:00.18; 2. Kenia Sinclair, JAM, 2:01.02; 3. Jemma Simpson, GBR, 2:01.10; 4. Hazel Clark, US, 2:01.12; 5. Tatyana Andrianova, RUS, 2:01.16. 1500: 1. Gelete Burka, ETH, 3:59.89; 2. Jenny Barringer, U. of Colorado, 3:59.90 (NCAA Record); 3. Anna Alminova, RUS, 4:01.44; 4. Anna Willard, US (ME), 4:01.44; 5. Christin Wurth-Thomas, US, 4:01.72; 6. Shannon Rowbury, US, 4:03.92; 11. Shalane Flanagan, US (MA), 4:06.91. 2000m: 1. Vivian Cheruiyot, KEN, 5:31.52; 2. Maryam Yusuf Jamal, BRN, 5:31.88; 3. Linet Masai, KEN, 5:33.43; 4. Sally Kipyego, KEN, 5:35.20; 5. Pauline Chemning, KEN, 5:38; 6. Amy Begley, US, 5:38.34; 7. Kara Goucher, US, 5:41.28; 8. Jen Rhines, US, 5:51.69.


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