6 Takeaways From Men’s Meet – Nick Willis Might Be In Form Of His Life, Galen Rupp Doesn’t Think It’s Too Bad, Is Ryan Hill The US’s #1 Right Now?

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by LetsRun.com
February 8, 2014

Boston, MA - The 2014 New Balance Grand Prix certainly did not disappoint. A national television audience and packed house saw some great action.

The highlight was the 4 x 800 world record falling in a tremendous battle to the line. We break that down here.

If you missed the meet, the 2014 New Balance Grand Prix results can be found here.

A full mid-d and distance meet recap by David Monti can be found here. A full meet recap including field/sprint action by the IAAF can be found here.

Below we give you 6 takeaways from the the rest of the men’s mid-d and distance action – the men’s mile and men’s 3,000.

Men’s Mile: Nick Willis Dominates

Results (Note race went out in 2:03 for half)
1 Willis , Nicholas NZL 3:57.41
2 Casey , Patrick USA 3:58.18
3 Brannen , Nathan CAN 3:58.37
4 Lomong , Lopez USA 3:58.52
5 Bolas , Jack USA 3:59.35
6 See , Jeff USA 4:00.00
7 Manzano , Leonel USA 4:04.92
Rupp , Galen USA DNF
Stockberger , Daniel USA DNF

David Monti has more of a recap here, but Nick Willis won this one fairly easily leading the second half of the race as Galen Rupp dropped out with a slight injury with 450 meters to go.

1) Despite gapping the field by 10 meters mid-race and holding on for a dominant three-quarters of a second victory, Nick Willis was far from fully satisfied afterwards as he revealed to us that he recently has enjoyed some of the best workouts of his career.

If you listen to our post-race interview with Willis on the right at the 1:10 mark, you will hear him say the following:

“Then suddenly with 150 left, I didn’’ have anything left and I had to muscle it in. So that was a little surprising as I thought I was in a bit better shape than that. I thought I could really roll that last lap – with the way my training has been going. But it’s early in the season, it’s still four weeks to go to Worlds so perhaps that’s a good thing. No disrespect to my competitors, but I’ve been doing some of the best workouts of my life the last two weeks.

I was keeping that (on the down) low at the press conference and stuff, so I was expecting a special performance tonight. It was pretty good but I guess the really good one will have to come in a few weeks. The race like tonight probably wouldn’t be good enough for a podium performance in Poland (at World Indoors) so there’s hopefully more to come.”

2) Galen Rupp said he didn’t think his injury is too serious.

“It (my left leg) was just a little sore but I don’t think it is anything serious. I just didn’t want to risk anything. The important meet is in a couple of weeks so it wasn’t worth the risk to try to sprint on it so that’s why I pulled out.”

“I’m going to go back to Portland and get it looked at but again I’m not worried about it. I think I’ll be fine. It just wasn’t worth the risk today and I tried to be smart about it.”

Given his 8:07/13:01 fitness, Rupp was very smart to not risk anything tonight. That being said, an injury two weeks out from USAs is not what anyone would want and by definition is a very serious development. Ryan Hill is in superb form right now and there is only one other Team USA spot available in the 3,000.

More from the messageboard: *Rupp drops out
*NBIGP NOT RUPP-CERTIFIED

3) Leo Manzano wasn’t nearly as down as you might think he would be after finishing last.

The 2012 Olympic silver medalist is still sponsor-less. Prior to the meet, he revealed to us he’s now self-coached. His first race was a last-place 4:04 mile. Certainly not what he was looking for. We thought we’d encounter a devastated Manzano in the mixed zone after the race but he was far from down beat. Manzano said that his simply misjudged the race. He said in a tactical race it’s a fatal error to be in the back and that’s where he found himself as he thought the field was going to go out hard with the rabbit. Instead, they went out in 2:03.

In contrast to that, Willis said he expected the field not to go with the rabbit and he was happy it went out slow.

Men’s 3k: Hagos Gebrhiwet over Dejen Gebremeksel as American Ryan Hill challenges for the lead in the last 400.

Results – 3,000 Metres – Men
1 Gebrhiwet , Hagos ETH 7:34.13
2 Gebremeskel , Dejen ETH 7:34.70
3 Hill , Ryan USA 7:34.87
4 Heath , Garrett USA 7:37.40
5 Bumbalough , Andrew USA 7:37.62
6 Ibrahimov , Hayle AZE 7:39.73
7 Levins , Cameron CAN 7:41.59
8 Leer , Will USA 7:42.95
9 Mead , Hassan USA 7:44.88
10 Chelanga , Samuel KEN 7:45.21
11 Blankenship , Ben USA 7:46.55
12 Miller , Craig USA 7:49.05
13 Cabral , Donald USA 7:51.47
14 Bruchet , Lucas CAN 7:56.33
Turner , De’Sean USA DNF

Hagos Gebrhiwet

Hagos Gebrhiwet

This was the “Ryan Hill has officially arrived” race. Hill made the USA World team at 5,000m last year, but that was in a slow race in extreme heat.

Tonight he raced two of the world’s best to the line and acted and looked like he belonged. Hill has upped his game to another level in 2014 and if Hill becomes the next US star this might be the first race where you realized he had that ability.

4) With Galen Rupp’s injury tonight, might Ryan Hill be the US’s top men’s distance runner right now?

We caught up with Hill right after the race and even more impressive than his 7:34.87 run, which was a 7+ second PR (previous PR 7:42.32) might have been his interview. Hill certainly didn’t come across as a star-stuck first year pro. Anything but that. He said he was disappointed he wasn’t able to give the loud Reggie Lewis crowd an American victory.

That being said, Hill is thrilled with the way things are going in his first pro season (Hill also ran an altitude adjusted 3:53.80 mile earlier this year – 3:59.00 actual time) and very happy that he chose to put his post-collegiate training in the hands of coach Jerry Schumacher.

Many on the messageboard are currently in love with Hill: MB: RYAN MF HILL 7:35.

5) World Championships 5,000 silver medalist Hagos Gebrhiwet said after the race that his training was going well and thought he’d be able to break his meet record of 7:32.87 coming into the race, but that he struggled once the rabbit stopped.

“My training was good. I was prepared to break my record (from last year) here and I ran well but I was pushing (leading) from the front,” said Hagos through a translator after the race.

After an opening 4:02 1,600, the pace slowed considerably for 800 meters once De’Sean Turner stopped rabbiting as the next two 400s were run in 63.8 (ht) and 62.7 (ht) respectively before they closed in 30.9 (ht), 28.9 (ht) and 25.8 (ht).

Gebrhiwet said he thought beating Dejen Gebremeskel might not be possible given Gebremeskel had the lead heading into the bell.

“I thought it was going to be a very big challenge for me. I didn’t think I was going to (be able to overcome Dejen Gebremeskel).”

6) Even the great ones overtrain. We asked Dejen Gebremeskel what the heck happened in Moscow, where he bombed the 10,000 as one of the top favorites (Gebremeskel was just 16th) and he said he burned it too hot in practice.

“Too much training in Ethiopia,” said Gebremeskel.

As for today, Gebremeskel went in thinking he’d win but was upbeat after the race. “This is my first race. No problem, I’m happy.”

As for 2014 World Indoors in Poland, both Dejen and Hagos said they plan on going and Hagos said that Ethiopia once again will select the team based on whoever has run the fastest.

Want more insight? Our women’s analysis is here: 6 Thoughts On The Women: Mary Cain Wants More, Jenny S Kicks Too Early, Kim Conley Dominates And Let’s Don’t Forget Chanelle Price or watch more of our post-race videos as we need to get to sleep.