Month: May 2016

Keni Harrison breaks American record in Pre Classic 100 hurdles

By Jarrid Denney

Keni Harrison and her coach made a decision at the end of last summer to focus solely on the 100 meter hurdles during the Olympic year and plan her training program entirely around that event.

The decision paid off in huge way for Harrison as she ran the second fastest time ever Saturday afternoon and blew away a field of competitors who had consistently topped her in the past.

Harrison shattered the Hayward Field record and set a new American record with a winning time of 12.24 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field Saturday afternoon.

“I didn’t feel that fast at all,” Harrison said. “I felt really smooth, but you know when you go out there and run for a time you don’t ever get that time. When you go out there and just execute and don’t really worry about a time, that’s when the fast times come.”

Harrison finished well ahead of runner-up Brianna Rollins (12.53), who set the previous American record of 12.26 seconds in June 2015, Dawn Harper-Nelson, who edged out Harrison to win the 2015 U.S. outdoor title, and former Hayward Field record-holder Sharika Nelvis placed fifth in 12.82. (more…)

Kypyegon has a record-setting day in the Pre Classic 1,500 meters

By Hannah Bonnie

Faith Kipyegon outraced a very talented field —  which included four athletes who had broken 4 minutes for the 1,500 meters  — Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic to claim a personal record, Hayward Field record and Kenyan national record in 3 minutes, 56.41 seconds, the best time in the world this year.

The previous Hayward Field record, which was 3:57.05, was set by fellow Kenyan Hellen Obiri during the 2014 Pre Classic. Earlier this year, Kipyegon had also broken the Kenyan national record and her personal record at a Diamond League meet in Shanghai with a time of 3:56.82.

“I was not expecting to run in Pre like I did in Shanghai, but I felt good, and it was a good race,” said Kipyegon.

During the 2012 London Olympics, Kipyegon represented Kenya but failed to qualify for the finals. This year, she hopes to change that outcome, but first she must make the team.

“I have the confidence to run and make the team to Rio,” said Kipyegon. “I come from tough competition, you know. I’ll have easy training for the trials.” (more…)

Lavillenie holds off duo of young vaulters to win Pre Classic

By Jarrid Denney

Since the start of the outdoor season, pole vault world-record holder and defending Olympic gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie of France has looked a little less invincible than he has in the past.

Coming into Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic, however, Lavillenie owned just the third highest jump in the world during the outdoor season, and he lost to Sam Kendricks at a Diamond League meet in Shanghai two weeks ago when the 23-year-old American jumped 19 feet, 4 inches.

On Saturday, Lavillenie fought the wind as well as two young competitors who have been chasing his marks since they made their pro debuts, and he won with a leap of 19-0 3/4 to prove that he is still the man to beat as Rio De Janeiro Olympics approach.

“It was OK,” Lavillenie said. “I could manage better. But the wind wasn’t so good at 5.87 (meters). I mean, I’m quite happy about taking back the lead in the Diamond League race and taking the first win in Eugene.”

Lavillenie and 22-year-old Shawn Barber each cleared 19-0 3/4, but Lavillenie cleared the height in fewer attempts before both athletes failed at 19-3.  Kendricks, who won the U.S. indoor title in March, finished third at 18-8 3/4. (more…)

Christian Taylor tops his ‘brothers’ to win Pre Classic triple jump

By Zac Neel

With his name atop the Prefontaine Classic leaderboard thanks to a world-leading jump of 57 feet, 3 inches, American record holder Christian Taylor stood near the runway preparing for his sixth and final triple jump attempt, while his former University of Florida teammate, Will Claye, took one last crack at the top spot.

After a roar from the Hayward Field crowd, Taylor looked up to see Claye prancing out of the sand pit onto the track, where he narrowly missed a pack of steeplechasers passing by. He pumped his fists, waved his arms and bowed for the crowd. Claye had just taken the lead with a final jump of 57-7 1/2.

Also watching was Omar Craddock, a fellow University of Florida alum, who was sitting safely in third place at 56-3 1/4.

“Once Will hit that jump and started showing out to the crowd, I just shook my head and knew something stupid was about to happen,” said Craddock. “All of us Gators are brothers, but at the same time, we love to compete. After that, I knew that Christian wasn’t finished.”

Taylor took off down the runway and reclaimed his spot at the top of the jumping world with a winning distance and new world-lead of 58-3 1/4.

“Will … he gets me a little excited, I guess,” said Taylor with a smile. “At first he was coming out of the pit and staying quiet. But once he starts running around, it gets me a little frustrated, and I used that to my advantage. (more…)

Bernard Lagat’s Prefontaine journey ends with the letters D-N-F

By Joseph Hoyt

On Friday night, in preparation for his 15th and final Prefontaine Classic, 41-year-old Bernard Lagat pulled out a small spiral notebook and documented his Hayward Field history. He wrote down the date of each meet, the race, how he placed and his time.

But when Lagat got down to the space reserved for 2016, he left it blank. He had one more race to record.

“Now I have to fill it,” Lagat said, “and I’m obligated to write DNF.”

Lagat — the American record holder in the 1,500, the 3,000 and the 5,000 — dropped off the track eight minutes into the 5,000 after fighting a cold since Monday. Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris ran 54.10 on the final lap to win in 12 minutes, 59.43 seconds, edging Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor.

On Monday, Lagat said his coach told him that he was too sick to compete. But the sentimental value of the Pre kept Lagat’s focus on the race. He dropped coffee, hydrated “like crazy” and ate as much fruit as possible. By Wednesday, Lagat had cemented his decision.

“I told my coach, ‘This is my last one, and I want to make sure I end doing a good job,’” Lagat said. (more…)

Sanya Richards-Ross says goodbye to the Prefontaine Classic

By: Madi Layton 

Nearing the end of her farewell tour, 400-meter American record holder Sanya Richards-Ross took to Hayward Field for one last Prefontaine Classic performance Saturday before her retirement after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. But the end result wasn’t as she had hoped.

“I felt good through about 300,” said Richards-Ross, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist. “I’d say when I came off the turn was when I thought, ‘OK, I don’t have it.’”

Richards-Ross ran 52.16 seconds for a seventh-place finish in the women’s 400 meters, three seconds slower than the Hayward record that she set in 2012.

“Of course, I really wanted to run better here,” Richards-Ross said. “I had surgery in November and have been trying to catch up.” (more…)

Kiprop easily wins Bowerman Mile; Blankenship and Jager finish seventh and eighth

By Will Denner

World champion Kenyan distance runner Asbel Kiprop didn’t break his personal record Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic, falling short of the expectations he set for himself prior to the Bowerman Mile.

Kiprop said at the meet press conference Friday that his goal was to improve on his top mark of 3 minutes, 48.5 seconds, which he set in the 2009 Prefontaine Classic. He finished Saturday in 3 minutes 51.54 seconds, but in the overall context of his season, Kiprop walked away encouraged by his performance.

“I think I’m having a good season,” Kiprop said. “Everything is in order. I hope Rio will be good.”

Morocco’s Abdelaati Iguider posted a 3:51.96 and had to settle for second, after ceding first to Kiprop in the last 200 meters. Elijah Manangoi, running in his first ever race in the United States, took third in 3:52.39.

The top three finishers all bested Charlie Grice’s season best mile of 3:52.64 that stood for all of two hours. Grice set the mark in the men’s national mile earlier in the meet and likely earned himself an invite to the Bowerman Mile next year.


Hayward magic strikes again for English Gardner in Pre Classic 100 meters

By Andrew Bet

English Gardner is no stranger to the Hayward magic. Even when she isn’t at her best, the former Oregon Duck is able to deliver a solid performance for the home fans.

Gardner’s time of 10.81 seconds at the Pre Classic gave her the win in the women’s 100 meters. The win was impressive considering she was not feeling great heading into the race.

“When you can get out there and run with the best of the world, that 100 meters wasn’t a little walk in the park,” she said. “You have some really big names in there. For me to be able to come out there and compete even when I feel the worst is something that I’m very proud of and gives me a lot of confidence. I’m excited, scared, nervous, happy all in one. It’s a lot of emotions.”

Even with a great time, Gardner wasn’t sure about her performance on the track as her preparation didn’t feel right before the start. (more…)

Coburn sets American record at Pre Classic Steeplechase – this time, it’s ratified

By Romaine Soh

In the steeplechase Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic, Emma Coburn realized she was on pace to break the American record on her final lap when the clock showed 8:02. But with no clocks on the backstretch and the clock on the home stretch stopping at the winner’s time, Coburn was basically running blind.

“The steeplechase has a lot of obstacles,” she said. “There’s a lot of drama yet to happen on the last lap even if you’re feeling good. I just tried to stay relaxed and think about what I had done in practice to prepare me for this.”

Coburn finished third in 9 minutes, 10.76 seconds, breaking the American record at a meet where she had previously set personal records the last two times she competed.

She found out the good news 10 seconds after she finished and said she had been crying ever since she saw her time.

“I can’t wait to call my coaches because they’re going to be pretty pleased with it,” she said. “I just felt really good. I felt like I could have gone another lap.”

Coburn had previously broken the American record in 2014 when she ran 9:11.42 at the Glasgow Diamond League meet. However, USATF, the governing body of track and field in the U.S., refused to recognize the time because Coburn had neglected to take a drug test.

“I’m trying to find someone to give me a drug test so I can make it official,” she said after Saturday’s race. “I’m very, very excited to take that test and have the time ratified.” (more…)

Tori Bowie Breaks 22-second Barrier in Pre Classic 200

By Isaac Gibson

Before Tori Bowie raced the 200 meters Saturday afternoon at the Prefontaine Classic, her coach gave it to her straight. “I am sick and tired of seeing you run 22 seconds,” he said. “I know you’re capable of 21.”

She was.

Bowie broke the tape in 21.99, becoming the 10th American woman to break the 22-second barrier.

Bowie’s time of 21.99 makes her the world leader in both the 100 meters and 200 meters this year. “It gives me a ton of confidence going into the trials,” Bowie said. “Because I know that I still have so much that I can improve on.”

Bowie’s fast times are coming as no surprise to her because she has been able to pinpoint and work on her biggest crutch. “My blocks have been my weakest point out of everything I’ve done,” she said. “Right now I’m healthy, so I can get blocks in like two or three times a week, and it’s making a ton of difference.

“I’m still learning, and I don’t know how fast I can run. I learn something new every day – the sky is the limit when it comes to what I’m capable of doing.” (more…)

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