2014 adidas GP Preview: David Rudisha Round Two, Simpson VS. Aregawi Round Three, A Dream Boys HS Mile, And Mary Cain Dodges The Competition

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June 13, 2014
By LetsRun.com

The sixth event in the 2014 Diamond League gets going Saturday afternoon in New York City. David Rudisha is back at it again, this time in a much toned down 800 field from Pre Classic, but still faces Duane Solomon and the two fast Poles. Jenny Simpson and Abeba Aregawi do battle again over 1500 along with a slew of top Americans in Brenda Martinez, Shannon Rowbury, Gabe Grunewald, Treniere Moser, Morgan Uceny and high schooler Alexa Efraimson. Mary Cain‘s 800 is basically a practice run and don’t get your hopes up for a sub-4 in the high school Dream Mile. Also Mercy Cherono vs Sally Kipyego in the women’s 3K and Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew in the steeple.

High School Boys’ Dream Mile (3:30 p.m. ET)

ATHLETE DATE OF BIRTH NATION PB SB
USA
4:13.89
11/16/1995
USA
USA
4:10.79
02/12/1996
USA
4:15.21
04/22/1997
USA
4:12.74
06/03/1996
USA
11/24/1995
USA
4:05.98
4:05.98
03/29/1996
USA
4:07.78
4:10.41
01/01/1997
USA
12/08/1996
USA
03/28/1996
USA
4:11.09
03/22/1996
USA
4:01.89
4:01.89
USA
01/01/1996
USA
4:14.81
4:14.81

The boys HS dream mile this year in New York is truly stellar and one of the top mid-d/distance events on the schedule. Now we do want to issue a warning.

Because adidas annually attracts the nation’s top high school milers for this race, it inevitably always ends up billed as a sub-4:00 attempt. The problem is that running sub-4:00 as a high schooler is so hard (only five people have ever done it) that you only have one, perhaps two guys in the race that are even capable of a sub-4:00 on their best day. Still, the allure of sub-4:00 is so appealing to U.S. fans that the High School Boys’ Dream Mile is always one of the year’s most anticipated races. Even with this year’s stellar field, we’d caution not to get your hopes up for a sub-4:00 as they are extremely rare at the high school level. But the quality of this year’s field is so strong that a sub-4 is possible and a winning time in the 4:01-4:02 range is very likely.

Garrett O’Toole of the Middlesex (Mass.) School ran a U.S. #1 4:01.89 mile at the Adrian Martinez Classic in Concord, Mass., on June 5 but he’s far from the only guy with a shot at the win here. 3:44 man Blake Haney of California won the always-loaded Arcadia Invitational 3200 in April by over three seconds, running 8:46.80, while Wyoming’s Ricky Faure, who leads the nation with a 1:48.14 800, gets the chance to test his skills against a top field. Foot Locker champ Grant Fisher of Michigan and U.S. 1600 leader Sukhi Khosla of Florida (4:05.96) are two other big names in a stacked field.

So you’ve got the Foot Locker champ, the nation’s #1 800 guy, the nation’s #1 mile guy and the nation’s #1 3200 guy, that’s what we call a great HS field.

Women’s 800 (3:37 p.m. ET; non-DL event): Mary Cain Dodges The Competition

ATHLETE DATE OF BIRTH NATION PB SB
12/07/1992
USA
2:03.87
2:03.87
05/03/1996
USA
1:59.51
2:02.31
10/13/1986
USA
2:03.42
2:04.40
04/08/1996
ETH
2:03.25
2:04.13
05/31/1989
USA
2:06.49
2:08.95
03/30/1991
JAM
1:59.93
2:01.29
08/13/1987
USA
2:04.92
2:05.41
08/14/1987
USA
2:02.20
2:04.20
01/10/1990
USA
2:04.72
2:17.09
06/09/1987
CAN
2:02.62
2:02.62

When Mary Cain withdrew from the Pre Classic 1500 two weeks ago to run the non-DL 800 instead, we understood. After Cain won USA indoors in February, she was forced to withdraw from World Indoors because of a calf injury. That, combined with the busy spring of a high school senior (AP tests, prom, graduation, etc.) meant that Cain didn’t debut outdoors until Pre.

And when she did, coach Alberto Salazar didn’t want to feed the 18-year-old Cain to the wolves in a loaded women’s 1500 that featured Jenny Simpson, Abeba Aregawi, Hellen Obiri and Faith Kipyegon. U.S. fans were denied a showdown between Cain and fellow high schooler Elise Cranny, but at least Cain would take on some notable names in the 800 (Chanelle Price, Maggie Vessey), including six other women who had broken 2:00.

The race didn’t go as planned (Cain was in tears after the race and ran just 2:02.31 for eighth), but it could be written off as a rust buster. A tough opener was in the books, and Cain — who made the World Championship final last summer in the 1500 — would be ready to roll against the top 1500 women in the world at the adidas Grand Prix in New York on June 14.

Now, for the second straight meet, Cain has switched from a marquee 1500 to a B 800, this time against a much weaker field. Aside from Cain, only one woman has run faster than 2:02.20 in her life (2013 NCAA champ Natoya Goule, sitting out a year after transferring from LSU to Clemson). Only two more have broken 2:03. This field seems tailor-made for Cain to get the win.

Obviously Salazar and Cain are doing what they think is best for her development, but what about the sport? Marketing Cain as a marquee attraction and then running her in a glorified practice isn’t good for the sport. Do that at Payton Jordan or Oxy, not the Diamond League in New York on national television.

We don’t see what Cain running the 800 accomplishes other then maybe building Cain’s confidence, and the risk of that is greater than the reward. If Cain wins, she gets a boost but will also know that it came against a weak field. But what if she loses? Then her confidence is even lower than before. If she ran the 1500, she’d know going in that she wasn’t going to win, but she’d at least get back to racing against top-level competition again.

The other disappointing element to this is that, for the second straight meet, U.S. fans won’t be able to see Cain face off against another U.S. high schooler. Two weeks ago at Pre, Cain’s switch to the 800 put a halt to a showdown with Cranny, and the same thing has happened in New York as Washington high schooler Alexa Efraimson is entered in the DL 1500.

Efraimson, a junior, is a year younger than Cain and is coming off a national high school record 4:33.29 1600 at the Washington state meet. Just as was the case with Cranny, Efraimson would be unlikely to beat Cain, even if Cain isn’t in top form, as her best mile/1500 performance is a 4:32 mile from the Millrose Games indoors. Cain’s mile PB is 4:24 (and her 1500 PB of 4:04 is a better mark than that) and — again — she was a World Championship finalist last year.

The silver lining: if Cain does run World Juniors this summer, she would likely have to face both Cranny and Efraimson in the 1500. Three of the four fastest HS 1500 runners of all time battling for two spots at World Juniors? That we’d love to see. Hopefully Cain enters the 1500 at U.S. Juniors — and doesn’t switch to the 800 at the last minute.

Messageboard Discussion: Mary Cain Ducking Again??

Women’s 3,000 (4:13 p.m. ET)

ATHLETE DATE OF BIRTH NATION PB SB
07/04/1987
ETH
8:30.93
09/09/1981
GBR
8:46.38
05/07/1991
KEN
8:21.14
8:21.14
03/14/1986
USA
8:47.95
02/09/1994
ETH
8:39.65
01/15/1995
ETH
8:56.36
05/05/1992
ETH
8:40.01
05/08/1991
BRN
8:38.61
09/08/1989
AUS
05/20/1988
NZL
9:32.44
9:44.27
03/17/1989
USA
8:59.24
12/19/1985
KEN
8:35.89
02/26/1987
ITA
9:00.25
05/27/1990
USA
05/09/1989
USA
8:47.34
06/30/1988
KEN
04/08/1988
USA
9:37.41
06/10/1990
ETH
8:49.45
8:49.45

There is no way around it. The field for the women’s 3000 is very weak by Diamond League standards.

This is a much weaker field than the one that contested the 5,000 in Rome on June 5, but it counts exactly the same in the Diamond League standings and the prize money is the same.

On the plust side, however, it does feature a lot of fresh faces than Rome. There’s just one woman (world silver medalist Mercy Cherono) in this race who finished top 10 in either of the first two DL 3k/5ks (the super-fast Doha 3k and the Rome 5k). The field does have Olympic 10k silver medalist Sally Kipyego and 20-year-old Worlds 5th-placer Buze Diriba of Ethiopia, but that’s about it for top talent. We just don’t get why more women aren’t in this race. The Diamond League goes on a three-week break after this race and we’re in a non-championship year. There’s really no reason for the top 3k runners not to be here, other than the fact that Icahn Stadium in the middle of the day is far from an ideal location to run fast.

Cherono was second in Doha on May 9 in 8:21.14 (#2 clean outdoors all-time), won the 2 mile at the Pre Classic and was fourth in the 5k in Rome. She’s clearly the favorite in this one. Diriba (4:10 1500 PB) and Kipyego (4:06 1500 PB) don’t have the speed to match Cherono’s 4:02 1500 PB and, more importantly, neither in as good form as Cherono. When Cherono won the 2 mile at Pre in 9:13, Kipyego was fifth in 9:22 while Diriba was way back in 10th in 9:40. Look for another Cherono win here.

From an American standpoint, the interesting story here is Kim Conley, who’s having a great 2014. She’s set PBs in the mile, 5k and 10k this year and was less than a second off her 3k PB indoors. Conley ran that 5k PB of 15:08 in Rome last week and has a good chance to chop a few seconds off her 3k mark (8:47.95) here.

Women’s 3,000 steeplechase (4:38 p.m. ET)

ATHLETE DATE OF BIRTH NATION PB SB
11/14/1987
ETH
9:09.00
9:11.39
03/06/1990
ETH
9:09.61
9:12.89
10/27/1987
PAN
9:52.07
9:57.83
08/23/1984
KEN
9:12.55
9:32.03
08/10/1990
KEN
9:28.04
9:41.02
05/03/1988
USA
9:41.12
08/13/1991
KEN
9:19.42
9:25.68
08/29/1991
DOM
9:54.08
9:54.08
08/24/1987
PUR
9:39.33
9:52.42

Officially, this is a Diamond League event, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Earlier this week, the entries only listed seven runners, a problem considering that the top eight all get prize money. As of Thursday, we’re up to nine entrants, and if no one else gets added, two out of the trio of Rolanda Bell, Maria Cristina Mancebo and Beverly Ramos – none of whom have run faster than 9:52 this season — will be taking home a check courtesy of the IAAF.

It’s easy to blame the athletes for not competing or meet organizers for failing to secure top talent, but the reality in 2014 is that there just aren’t many elite women’s steeplers right now. The gold and silver medalists from Worlds last year (also the two fastest runners in ’13), Kenyans Milcah Chemos and Lidya Chepkurui, aren’t in shape this year. Chemos ran just 9:38 in Shanghai on May 18 and was a DNF at Pre; Chepkurui ran 9:38 in Shanghai and 9:32 in Pre. Chepkurui is entered here but likely won’t contend for the win. Aside from Emma Coburn, who is taking this one off and is supporting her boyfriend Joe Bosshard at NCAAs in Eugene, and perhaps 9:14 Ethiopian Etenesh Diro Neda (who has only run 9:25 this season), there isn’t really anyone else of note to add to the field.

The good news is that the top two steeplers in the world right now are both running. Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew, who have the two fastest times in the world right now by almost five seconds, will both run here and should be well clear of the field after a couple laps. Assefa beat Ayalew in Shanghai and at Pre and has a commanding 13-3 edge lifetime vs. Ayalew.

Women’s 1500 (5:01 p.m. ET)

ATHLETE DATE OF BIRTH NATION PB SB
07/05/1990
SWE
3:56.54
3:57.57
02/20/1997
USA
4:16.00
4:21.10
07/25/1986
USA
4:01.48
4:17.66
12/10/1988
KEN
4:02.59
4:04.83
03/01/1989
KEN
4:05.66
4:07.11
08/22/1981
KEN
4:00.13
09/08/1987
USA
4:00.94
4:02.52
10/27/1981
USA
4:02.85
4:04.74
02/05/1985
POL
4:03.50
09/19/1984
USA
4:00.33
4:07.83
07/27/1996
ETH
3:59.53
3:59.53
06/30/1986
CAN
4:04.65
4:07.24
08/23/1986
USA
3:58.28
3:58.28
05/03/1995
ETH
4:04.55
4:08.49
01/02/1993
SRB
4:05.69
4:15.39
03/10/1985
USA
4:00.06
4:08.68
06/13/1990
USA
4:07.47
4:07.47

As it has been for the last couple years, the major storyline in the women’s 1500 is the matchup between world indoor/outdoor champ Abeba Aregawi of Sweden and 2011 world champ/2013 silver medalist Jenny Simpson of the U.S. As we detailed in our Prefontaine preview, Simpson has struggled versus Aregawi and has only beaten her once in eight attempts and that was back in their first meeting in 2011.

This race figures to run similar to last year’s World Championship final and this year’s Shanghai DL race with Simpson and Aregawi clear of the field and battling for the win. One runner could upset those plans, though: 17-year-old Ethiopian Dawit Seyaum. Seyaum was second at the World Youth Championships last year in the 1500 meters, but until Sunday hadn’t run faster than 4:09.00. She has to be considered as a threat now though as she PR’d by an amazing 9.47 seconds to run 3:59.53 in Marrakech, Morocco, on Sunday. We’ll say that again: 9.47 SECONDS. You can understand that a little bit considering that she’s still very young and that she hadn’t been in a lot of fast races before (she ran the Doha DL 1500 last year but was just 13th in 4:14.95), but a near-10-second PR in a 1500 is massive no matter how you slice it. This will be just her second DL race and we’re excited to see if she decides to go with Simpson and Aregawi or if she runs more conservatively against the strong field.

What will Brenda Martinez do?

Martinez has been running hot and cold in 2014. Here’s a look at what she’s done outdoors.

Brenda Martinez in 2014
The Good The Bad
Oxy (May 15): 1:59.91 (1st) Rome (June 5): 2:00.44 (5th)
World Relays (May 25): 1:58.7 anchor (team gold) Oslo (June 11): 2:02.27 (10th)
Hengelo (June 8): 1:59.24 (1st)

Martinez looked like a world-beater at World Relays, but since then she’s been poor against top competition (the field in Hengelo wasn’t great). She is racing a 1500 in New York, and her performances at that distance have been relatively consistent but not very impressive (second behind Hellen Obiri at Drake in 4:06.96 and  7th at Pre in 4:02.52). 2013 was a real breakthrough for Martinez, setting PRs at 800 (1:57.91) and 1500 (4:00.94) and taking bronze in the 800 at Worlds. We thought she’d carry that over to 2014, but that hasn’t been the case so far. It will be interesting to see how she runs in New York, especially considering that this will be her fourth race in 10 days.

Two other Americans to watch for

Shannon Rowbury is coming off an American-record 9:20.25 2 mile at the Pre Classic and should be ready to significantly lower her season best of 4:07.83 set at the Drake Relays on April 25. We talked about Alexa Efraimson earlier in the preview, and the question for will be how high can she climb on the all-time U.S. high school list? She ran 4:15.65 indoors en route during her mile at Millrose, which ranks her fourth on the all-time list behind Cain, Cranny and Jordan Hasay. Cain’s 4:04.62 is untouchable but Efraimson definitely has a shot at Hasay’s 4:14.50 and possibly Cranny’s 4:10.95.

Men’s 800 (5:42 p.m. ET)

ATHLETE DATE OF BIRTH NATION PB SB
03/29/1991
USA
1:44.71
1:46.35
11/30/1989
KEN
1:43.22
1:44.82
03/18/1993
IRL
1:44.84
1:46.22
03/02/1985
USA
1:43.84
1:46.67
09/02/1989
POL
1:43.30
1:44.65
06/13/1987
POL
1:43.79
1:44.60
02/03/1986
GBR
1:43.89
1:48.42
12/17/1988
KEN
1:40.91
1:44.87
10/28/1987
USA
1:45.08
1:47.21
11/21/1983
USA
1:46.11
12/28/1984
USA
1:42.82
1:43.88

The only men’s distance event is the 800, and though the field isn’t nearly as strong as it was for the epic 800 at Pre, one man makes this race worth the price of admission: world-record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha. You may recall that Rudisha’s 1:45.14 solo win in New York last year was his final race before an extended injury break. This year’s edition will be his second race back from injury, following his 1:44.87 seventh-place finish at Pre.

Rudisha showed a glimpse of his old self at Pre, leading through 600 before fading badly over the last 200 of the race. After the race, he told us that he felt good until 100 to go but that the final straight was really difficult for him. With another two weeks of training, Rudisha should be stronger and closer to his best than he was at Pre.

Battling Rudisha for the win are Poles Adam Kszczot (world indoor silver medalist) and Marcin Lewandowski (fourth at Worlds last year) who were fith and sixth at Pre — directly in front of Rudisha. Lewandowski was third in the Rome 800 on June 5 in 1:44.60 behind Mo Aman and Abubaker Kaki and lost to Kszczot in an 800 in Poland last weekend. Both Poles are consistent runners, so how Rudisha does against them in New York versus how he did at Pre will be a good gauge of his progress over the last two weeks.

Worlds sixth-placer Duane Solomon of the U.S. will also run here. After a very sub-par effort at Pre (1:47.40, 10th), he was better in Rome (1:44.90, 4th) so hopefully that continues in NY. Solomon ran a world-leading 1:43.88 at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 19 but has yet to better that since. A good showing here would help build his confidence back before USAs.