Leo Manzano Upset In Mile; Wins For Cas Loxsom, Dana Mecke, Violah Lagat And Amy Hastings At 2014 Adrian Martinez Classic

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Unheralded Eric Finan PRs by 6+ Seconds, Breaks 4:00 For First Time and Takes Down Manzano

By Jonathan Gault, LetsRun.com.
Additional reporting by Chris Lotsbom of Race Results Weekly
June 5, 2014

CONCORD, Mass. — Fans, local runners and a few Olympians congregated excitedly at the Emerson Playground on Thursday evening for the 2014 Adrian Martinez Classic. While the eighth edition of the meet, it was the first with a substantial pro field thanks to the support of Hoka One One.

The meet was held at the track of Concord-Carlisle High School, resulting in an intimate atmosphere as the fans had great access to the finishings straight.

Hoka One One athlete and Olympic silver medallist Leo Manzano was the big name on hand, but he was only ended up fourth in 3:59.31 in the showcase Adro Mile after winning Saturday’s International Mile at the Pre Classic over a much stronger field in 3:52.41. Eric Finan of Team USA Minnesota not only broke four for the first time with a massive 6+ second pb, but he also took the surprise win and scalp of Manzano in 3:58.73, leading four men under 4:00. Massachusetts high schooler Garrett O’Toole also ran a U.S. #1 4:01.89 to set a New England high school record.

We’ve got a separate article on O’Toole here: Massachusetts High Schooler Garrett O’Toole Runs U.S. #1 4:01.89 Mile at 2014 Adrian Martinez Classic.

There were several other notable performances, with Violah Lagat out-kicking Morgan Uceny in the women’s mile to produce an outdoor world leading 4:29.43 (Uceny ran 4:29.89), Cas Loxsom holding off Ryan Martin and Brian Gagnon to win the men’s 800 in 1:46.31 and 2012 Olympian Amy Hastings running away from the field to win the women’s 5000 in 15:25.94.

Below we’ve got some insight on the races as well as plenty of interviews.

Men’s Mile

(The men’s mile race recap (not quick takes) is by Chris Lotsbom of RRW).

The marquee event event of the night was the men’s Adro Mile, headlined by Olympic silver medalist Manzano. Former University of Cincinnati star Eric Finan upset Manzano to win in 3:58.73, edging out New Zealand’s Hamish Carson for the win by .01 seconds. Providence College’s Julian Oakley was third in 3:58.89 with Manzano fourth in 3:59.31.

Debuting the first ever pair of Hoka One One racing spikes, Manzano went right toward the front, taking prime position behind the rabbit. There he would stay through 400 meters in about 61 seconds and 800m in roughly two minutes. Trailing Manzano was a large group, all with eyes on the clock and hopes of breaking four minutes.

Among them were Finan and New Zealand’s Hamish Carson and Julian Oakley. Neither Finan nor Oakley had broken four minutes for the mile before.

With determination on their side, all three hung tight until 200 meters remained. By that time, Manzano was starting to falter, and the win was up for grabs.

“I saw the clock with three minutes on it and I knew I had at least a 59 in me,” said Finan. “Out of my peripheral vision I could see that I had passed Leo, but then Hamish pulled up. All I could think was I’m beating Leo.”

Hitting the tape, Finan, Carson, and Oakley were neck and neck. No one was quite sure who had won the contest.

“Did I win? Did I do it?” Finan could be heard asking, awaiting any sign of confirmation. Within a few moments, Finan got the answer he wanted to hear. He had won with a time of 3:58.73

“I’m so excited. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about since high school. For it to finally come to fruition, it is so exciting. The last full mile I ran was in 2010 and so four years later, I finally got my chance and tonight was a perfect night for it,” said Finan, who attended the University of Cincinnati. “Everything came together, I’m just so excited.”

Finan told Race Results Weekly that his recent training under coach Dennis Barker with Team USA Minnesota gave him the confidence that he could break four minutes. That he did, improving more than six seconds from his previous personal best mile — a 4:04.94 showing indoors.

Following Carson in second (3:58.74) and Oakley in third (3:58.89), Manzano crossed the line in 3:59.31. The 29-year-old said the race was good until the final lap.

“After that I kind of lost it a little bit. But hey, it was a great race,” he said. When asked if his legs felt heavy because of last weekend’s Prefontaine Classic –where he ran 3:52.41– Manzano said no. “Every race has to have a purpose and I think today definitely served what I needed out of it.”

Perhaps the biggest finish of all came from Middlesex School’s Garrett O’Toole, a high school senior. On the 50th anniversary of Jim Ryun becoming the first high schooler to break four minutes for the mile, O’Toole took a stab at becoming the sixth prep to join that exclusive club. He’d come up just 1.89 seconds shy, finishing in 4:01.89. The time, fastest ever by a prep in New England, ranks 14th all-time for high schoolers and first in the nation this year, according to Dyestat.com’s Doug Binder.

“I’m really excited. You know, it was just such a great opportunity to come here,” said O’Toole, who will take another shot at the mark at the adidas Grand Prix’s High School Dream Mile. O’Toole will run for Princeton University next year. “I was able to come out here, work hard, and get a good time. It was really exciting for me.”

Quick Thought #1: Who the hell is Eric Finan, you ask?

Finan was 10th at NCAAs in the 5k in 2011 while at Cincinnati and still considers himself a 5k runner. He’s got modest pbs of 7:59, 13:44, and 29:37. And this really was a 4 second pb for him as his 1500 pb is just 3:48.55.

Finan is aiming to run in the 13:30s next weekend at the Portland Track Festival to try and get into USAs and said that if that didn’t work out he’d try to use tonight’s mile to see if he could get in in the 1500.

Making his win all the more remarkable is the fact that Finan hadn’t run a mile since indoor track in 2010 and was ecstatic to get the victory. A student of the sport, Finan knew that Thursday was the 50th anniversary of Jim Ryun becoming the first American high schooler to break 4:00 and said that motivated him to break 4:00 himself.

Finan said as he pulled up on Manzano he said he thought to himself, “You’re pulling up on Leo Manzano, Olympic silver medalist. Oh my goodness.” But that thought subsided quickly, and Finan said that over the last 100 meters,  “all that was in my mind was being a competitor.”

Quick Thought #2: You never know what you’re going to get from Leo Manzano.

After he looked great winning a stacked International Mile at Pre last weekend in 3:52, many assumed he’d have no problem winning in Concord on Thursday. But Leo has consistently been inconsistent over the years and it’s hard to come back five days later from a hard effort like that, especially when the meets are on opposite coasts. As a result, Manzano was still optimistic after the race, saying that his workouts have been going well and that his win at Pre gave him a lot of confidence, which he will carry into USAs.

Leo and Angel Martinez (full photo gallery here)

Leo and Angel Martinez (full photo gallery here)

Though he didn’t win, Manzano was clearly the man the fans had come out to see, and he was very gracious in defeat. He spent some time after the race chatting with high schooler Garrett O’Toole, who ran 4:01.89 to finish just behind Manzano. The two bonded over Jason Vigilante, who was Manzano’s coach at Texas and who will coach O’Toole next year at Princeton.

Manzano also shared a poignant moment with Deckers Outdoor CEO Angel Martinez (Deckers owns Hoka One One). Martinez’s son, Adrian, for whom the meet is named, was a miler at Concord-Carlisle High School and passed away in 2006 shortly after graduating from Williams College.

“When I heard about Adrian Martinez and his family and what had happened to him, my heart goes out to the family,” Manzano said. “What a phenomenal kid, from the stories I’ve heard.”

Martinez was grateful to have Manzano at the meet and told him that Adrian would have been smiling after the race.

As mentioned above, Manzano  debuted a new pair of Hoka spiked (see pic):

Women’s Mile

(The women’s mile race recap (not quick takes) is by Chris Lotsbom of RRW).

Kenya’s Violah Lagat used a late move to pull away from 2011 world #1 Morgan Uceny and set a world leader of 4:29.43 in the women’s Adro mile.

For Lagat, 25, it took a finely-timed finishing kick to track down Morgan Uceny and claim top honors. After going out in roughly 67 seconds for the opening lap, it was Uceny, the top-ranked 1500m runner in the world for 2011, and Oiselle’s Amanda Winslow trailing the pace setter out front. Passing 800m in 2:14, a lead group of Uceny, Winslow, Amanda Eccleston, Lagat, Lauren Johnson, and collegian Katrina Coogan had emerged, strung out little by little.

With 200 meters remaining, Uceny held on tight for first, hoping to pull away around the final bend. But, Lagat would not be shaken.

Coming down the homestretch, it was Lagat overtaking Uceny in the final 20 meters, going on to win in a world leading 4:29.43. With her time, Lagat became the first woman to dip under 4:30 this season.

“I just trusted my fitness and I know I was ready to run fast,” said Lagat, sister of four-time Olympian Bernard Lagat. “The past few weeks and past few races I’ve been having a good kick at the end and so I trusted myself that I was going to do well and I just went for it.”

Uceny’s runner-up mark of 4:29.89 was encouraging, said the 29-year-old, though she wanted badly to hold on for first.

“The race kind of went how I expected, really even [splits],” she said. “I made a decent move with 200m to go to get to the lead then just kind of ran out of gas. The straightaways are so long and the last 50 I was just really hurting, trying to keep my legs moving. Violah had a great race and props to her for having a good kick.

Quick Thought #1: A nice pay day for Lagat.

Not only did Lagat take away $1,000 for the win, but she claimed an additional $1,000 for breaking 4:30. Lagat waited her time as Amanda Winslow and Uceny led the field through the first three laps (they were at 2:15 with two laps to go).

Lagat said she’s preparing to race at the Diamond League event in New York next week and used this race as a tuneup.

Quick Thought #2: The former world #1 Uceny didn’t want to travel to Europe before USAs.

Uceny, who’s based in Boston, didn’t want to go to Europe before USAs at the end of the month and raced in the Boston area last weekend (2:00.29 800 at the New Balance Twilight meet in Waltham, Mass.) and liked being able to stay local in Concord on Thursday.

Uceny said she probably won’t race again until USAs (so no New York Diamond League) and that she is still deciding whether she wants to run the 800 or the 1500 in Sacramento.

Quick Thought #3: Meet Katrina Coogan.

Georgetown’s Katrina Coogan, who’s redshirting this spring, was sixth in 4:33.00. We spoke to her briefly (her dad, former U.S. Olympian Mark Coogan, made a cameo at the start).

Men’s 800

Cas Loxsom, who runs for the Brooks Beasts, barely held on for the win in a blanket finish. Loxsom ran a season’s best 1:46.31, just holding off Asics’ Ryan Martin (1:46.58), NJ*NY Track Club’s Brian Gagnon (1:46.62) and his Brooks Beasts teammate Mark Wieczorek (1:46.81).

Loxsom said his goal was to stick on the rabbit and he did just that, assuming the lead when the rabbit dropped off. Martin and Gagnon mounted a late challenge on the home stretch but Loxsom had just enough left in the tank to pull away for the win. Loxsom, a Connecticut native that he liked the low-key atmosphere of the meet and enjoyed being able to see his parents, who drove up for the race. He added that he liked being able to help support growing meets, which the Adrian Martinez Classic certainly is following the sponsorship from Hoka One One.

We also spoke to runner-up Ryan Martin, who just missed out on an Olympic spot in 2012, finishing fourth at the U.S. Trials. Martin moved to Orange County after graduating from UC-Santa Barbara in 2012, but battled some injuries in 2013 and missed training with his teammates at UCSB. He moved back this year and though he dealt with an injury in February, he said he’s happy to be back in Santa Barbara training with his college coach.

Martin opened up on May 3 with a 1:49, then ran 1:47, 1:47 and 1:46 in his next three races. He ran 1:46 again tonight and looks to be moving back toward the form that saw him run 1:44 and just miss the Olympic team in 2012.

Women’s 800

Little-known Dana Mecke, who trains in San Antonio and ran at UT-San Antonio, won in 2:02.85 over a field that included world indoor 1500 bronze medalist Nicole Sifuentes of Canada (3rd, 2:02.94). Mecke nipped New Jersey/New York Track Club’s Stephanie Charnigo and Sifuentes at the line for the women’s 800m crown. Mecke’s time was 2:02.85.

U.S. World Relays 4×800 gold medalist Geena Lara started the race, but her hamstring tightened up almost immediately, causing her to DNF. Lara said that her hamstring had been bothering her for the last couple weeks and that she thought it could hold up tonight, but that wasn’t the case.

Women’s 5000

Brooks’ Amy Hastings pulled away from the women’s 5000 field midway through the race to win in 15:25.94 in her first track race of the season.

Hastings has been on the roads for most of 2014, running the Gate River Run 15k in March, the B.A.A. 5k in April and a downhill 5k in Westfield, Mass., in May. She said she’s returning to the roads for the New York Mini 10k next Saturday and the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on July 4. In between, she’ll run USAs but is undecided between the 5k and 10k.

The runner-up behind Hastings was the Oregon Track Club’s Alexi Pappas, who ran a four-second PB of 15:43.72. Pappas has been transitioning from the steeplechase to the 5k and, ultimately, the 10k this season and said that Thursday’s race was a learning experience. Pappas said she’ll be continuing to learn when she does the 5k at the Portland Track Festival next weekend.

Pappas has been known to wear some unique outfits in her races, and so we also asked her at the end about Maggie Vessey‘s racing attire at the Pre Classic.

Men’s 5000

Travis Mahoney of the New Jersey/New York Track Club passed former Iona Gael Mitch Goose and charged home with a fast final 400 meters, crossing the line in 13:59.13 to Goose’s 14:04.63.

More: LRC Massachusetts High Schooler Garrett O’Toole Runs U.S. #1 4:01.89 Mile at 2014 Adrian Martinez Classic
*LRC Photos Gallery From Meet
*MB: HSer Garrett O’toole runs 4:01.89