February 7, 2014
This is our preview of the women’s mid-d and distance action at Saturday’s 2014 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, which features a clash between teen phenoms Mary Cain and Ajee’ Wilson in the 1,000, a women’s 2,000 with Kim Conley, Shannon Rowbury, Morgan Uceny, Treniere Moser and others, and a women’s two-mile where Jenny Simpson and Sally Kipyego renew their rivalry and try to hold off Ethiopia’s Sentayehu Ejigu.
The meet will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (4:30-6:00 pm ET).
WOMEN’S 1,000 METERS: Mary Cain Vs. Ajee’ Wilson And The American Record
The 2014 campaign has started out well for Mary Cain as she set a world junior 1,000 record of 2:39.25 in her first 1k race of the year and then ran the #2 world junior time ever in the mile (4:24.11) in her second race of 2014. The Mary Cain show hits the big time here as she’ll compete on national television for the first time in 2014.
In her first attempt at the 1,000 on Jan. 16, we said she had zero shot at the American record of 2:34.19. We haven’t heard anything about this being set up as another American record attempt but if it is, we aren’t 100% ruling it out. It’s still a TALL order – maybe 5% shot – but her mile showed she’s in the form of her life right now.
As a result, we don’t expect anyone in this field to beat her.
Fellow teen phenom Ajee’ Wilson, who placed higher last year in the World Championship 800 final than Cain did in the 1,500 final, also races here but we don’t expect her to challenge Cain. Wilson is much more of a pure 800-meter runner and hasn’t historically run as well at the 1,000 (personal best just 2:44.05). A big PR will show though that her training is going well.
Former teen sensation Chanelle Price also runs here. Like Wilson, she’s also more of a pure 800 runner but she comes into this race in great form as she ran a 2:01.91 indoor PR in the UK in January. She’s also run 2:40.03 for 1k this year as well.
Sarah Brown has run 4:29.62 for the mile so far this year so she should be in the mix. The field also includes sub-2 performers Melissa Bishiop, Marilyn Okoro and Molly Beckwith.
Parting Thought #1: We fully expect Cain to get the win here in the battle of past and present teen phenoms.
Parting Thought #2: Looking for a future teen phenom? Ethiopia’s Dureti Edao is also in the race. She won silver in the 800 at World Youth Championships last summer in 2:03.25. Of course, she is a month older than Mary Cain.
CAIN, MARY 1,500 finalist at 2013 Worlds 2:39.25 (WJR) / 4:24.11 mile SBs 1:59.51 800 / 2:39.25 / 4:04.62 1,500 PRs
KAMPF, HEATHER 2:04.28 800 / 4:30.14 mile SBs 2:00.04 800 / 4:08.37 1,500 PRs
WILSON, AJEE’ 6th in 800 at 2013 Worlds, 2012 World Junior champion 2:50.44 SB 1:58.21 800 / 2:44.05 PRs
BISHOP, MELISSA 1:59.76 800 / 2:47.04 PRs
PRICE, CHANELLE 2:01.91 800 / 2:40.03 SBs 2:00.15 800 / 2:40.03 PRs
BROWN, SARAH 4:29.62 mile SB 2:02.25 800 / 4:05.27 1,500 PRs
OKORO, MARILYN 2011 Euro Indoors 800 bronze medal 1:58.45 800 / 4:11.85 1,500 PRs
BECKWITH, MOLLY 2:02.13 800 / 4:34.44 mile SBs 1:59.12 800 PR
EDAO, DURETI Silver medal in 800 at 2013 World Youths 2:03.25 800 / 4:15.91 1,500 PRs
THEISEN-EATON, BRIANNE Pace? 2013 Worlds heptathlon silver medal, 2012 Olympic heptathlon finalist, 5 NCAA multi-event titles 2:09.03 800 PR
WOMEN’S 2,000m: Kim Conley Versus The Milers
2,000 meters is a weird distance to handicap.
We know who we are picking for the win though. 2012 US Olympian Kim Conley opened her 2014 campaign in the form of her life as she ran a big personal best of 4:24.54 in the mile to dominate the New Balance Games in New York on January 25th.
Conley’s not naturally a miler. She’s more 5,000/10,000, so the extra 400 meters will only help her. She’s our favorite even though the field includes some very accomplished milers.
The field also includes 2009 World 1,500 bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury, 2011 world ranked #1 Morgan Uceny, and 2013 US 1,500 champion Treniere Moser, but the first two don’t appear to be in top form quite yet this year (Rowbury ran 2:08 for 800 and Uceny ran 4:30.57 for the mile when Conley ran 4:24.54) and Moser pulled out of a mile two weeks ago in Boston with an injury scare. The big positive for Moser, is if she starts, we know she’s in pretty good shape as she did run 2:39.23 for 1,000 in her 2014 opener.
2013 NCAA indoor mile champion Emma Coburn is also in the field and can’t be ruled out. As a steeple expert, she’ll certainly not mind the extra 400 meters.
Parting Thought #1: Conley is our favorite but we’ll be paying close attention to nearly everyone in this race. Does Uceny take another step forward in her comeback from her devastating London fall? How does Coburn look in her 2013 opener? Does Moser look injured? Does Rowbury run much better than she did in her first race under Salazar?
Parting Thought #2: 2k is such an odd distance that when we first saw it listed as an event we assumed it was chosen so someone could go after a soft record. But meet organizers said the only event that is being set up as a big record attempt is the men’s 4 x 800. In case you are wondering, though, the world and American records for 2,000 are as follows:
|5:30.53||1.||1.||Gabriela SZABO||75||ROU||F||1.||Sindelfingen (GER)||08.03.1998|
|5:34.52||2.||2.||Mary SLANEY||58||USA||F||1.||Los Angeles (USA)||18.01.1988|
MOSER, TRENIERE 2013 US 1,500 champion 2:39.32 1,000 SB 4:02.85 1,500 PR
ROWBURY, SHANNON 7th in Moscow Worlds 5,000, bronze medal in 2009 4:00.33 / 4:20.34 PRs
CONLEY, KIM 2nd at USA XC, 30th at Worlds in 2013 4:24.54 mile PR
BUSH, NICOLE 2013 USA steeplechase champion 4:38.25 mile SB / PR
GARCIA, STEPHANIE 4:38.60 mile SB / PR
LAGAT, VIOLA 2:05.41 800 SB 4:05.66 1,500 PR
UCENY, MORGAN World-ranked #1 in 1,500 in 2011 4:30.57 mile SB 4:00.06 1,500 PR
SEYAUM, DAWIT 4:09.00 1,500 PR
COBURN, EMMA 2013 NCAA champion in steeplechase and indoor mile 4:06.87 1,500 PR
WILSON, HEATHER Pace?
GREGSON, HEIDI 4:13.86 1,500 PR
WOMEN’S 2-Mile: Jenny Simpson And Sally Kipeygo Renew Their Rivalry
It’s 1 am and the press conference is in 9 hours so we’ve got to get some sleep so we’ll be brief here.
On the US front, you’ve got 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson racing for the first time on the track in 2014. Will she look better than she did in her 2014 cross-country debut when she lost by 1:40 – yes, 100 seconds – in a 6km race in Italy?
Simpson will have her hands full in this one as she renews her rivalry with two-time 10,000 silver medallist Sally Kipyego as they race for the first time since 2011. When the two raced in college, Kipyego ended up on top more times than not, particularly at longer distances. Anyone remember 2007 when Kipyego dominantly won NCAA titles over the runner-up Simpson first in the 3,000 by 21+ seconds and then in XC by 16+ seconds?
Kipyego comes into her 2014 opener after basically missing 2013 with a stress fracture. She did run two road 5ks in November (15:49 and 15:38) to show she is healthy. Will she be in sub-15:00 type shape here?
Given her poor showing in Italy, Simpson is unlikely to win here. Former Oregon star Jordan Hasay comes into this race as potentially the top American as she set a big mile personal best of 4:28.37 just two weeks ago. 4:01.48 1,500 runner Gabriele Anderson, who ran 4:12.76 in the UK in her 2014 opener, also is in the field and can’t be discounted.
In terms of Ethiopian talent, the woman who holds the world junior mile record by .01 over Mary Cain – Kalkidan Gezahegne – is in the field. Gezahegne, who is now 22, just switched her nationality to Bahrain in September. She’s not our pick to win however.
Parting Thought #1: We think the winner might be 2010 World Indoor 3,000 bronze medallist Sentayehu Ejigu. The 28-year-old won the Tufts 10k in October over Maggie Infeld in Boston in 31:33 after her friend Meseret Defar told her she thought she was in good shape. Injured for most of 2012 and 2013, this is actually her first track race since September of 2011. However, she’s run 8:25 for 3,000 in the past (and 14:28 for 5,000) so she’s our pick.
Update: After going to the press conference, we are feeling much better about Simpson’s chances. We still don’t think she’s the favorite but she says she’s very good shape.
SIMPSON, JENNY 2011 1,500 world champion, silver medal in 2013 3:59.90 1,500 PR / 8:42.03 3,000 PR
SCHAPPERT, NICOLE 4:06.87 1,500 PR
EJIGU, SENTAYEHU 2010 World Indoors bronze medal in 3,000 8:25.27 / 9:12.68 PRs
GEBRESLASE, GOTYTOM 2011 World Youth 3,000 champion 8:46.01 3,000 / 15:11.12 5,000 PRs
ANDERSON, GABRIELLE 4:12.76 1,500 SB 4:01.48 1,500 / 8:42.64 3,000 PRs
ARESON, JACKIE 2011 NCAA Indoors 5,000 champion 4:42.44 mile SB 8:58.23 3,000 / 15:12.09 5,000 PRs
HASAY, JORDAN 2013 Worlds 10,000 finalist, 2-time NCAA individual champion 4:28.37 mile SB 4:28.37 mile / 8:46.89 3,000 PRs
KIPYEGO, SALLY Silver medals in 10,000 at 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics 8:35.89 3,000 / 14:30.42 5,000 / 30:26.37 10,000 PRs
GEZAHEGNE, KALKIDAN 2010 World Indoors 1,500 champion 4:00.97 1,500 / 8:37.47 3,000 PRs
BROWNING, CHARLOTTE 2010 NCAA 1,500 champion 4:33.80 mile SB 4:09.86 1,500 PR