By Jonathan Gault
February 25, 2018
BOSTON — World records are fun. You know what’s more fun? When world records come in an exciting race.
If you stuck around to watch the final race of the 2018 Boston University Last Chance Meet — and chances are, you did not, because the place was almost deserted — you were lucky enough to witness a very exciting men’s 4×800 relay in which three teams broke the existing world record and the reigning Olympic 1500 champion went from first to last on the anchor leg. In a tight race, it was Hoka One One NJ*NY Track Club that emerged victorious, clocking 7:11.30 to break the four-year-old record of 7:13.11, set across town at the Reggie Lewis Center. The record-setting team consisted of, in running order, Joe McAsey (1:49.03), Kyle Merber (1:47.11), Chris Giesting (1:47.43), and Jesse Garn (1:47.33; thanks to Lancer Timing/Track & Field News for the splits). Atlanta Track Club (Brandon Hazouri, Patrick Peterson, Edward Kemboi, and Brandon Lasater) and District Track Club (Blair Henderson, Strymar Livingston, Edose Ibadin, and Matthew Centrowitz) finished second and third in the three-team race in 7:11.84 and 7:12.25, respectively.
Needing to average 1:48.27 to break the record, the first leg was the slowest of the four, even with NJ*NY’s Rob Napolitano serving as a rabbit to get the pace rolling (side note: it was ridiculous — but also appropriate, given the frequently arcane requirements of track & field — to see Napolitano run the first two laps carrying a baton that he never intended to hand off). McAsey gave Merber a slight lead at the first exchange, but District TC remained hot on their heels, and the second leg played out similarly to the first, with Merber leading the entire way but not able to put much distance on District TC’s Livingston. Both men did succeed on creating a gap on Atlanta, who handed off in third almost a full straightaway behind.
Things got interesting on the third leg. Ibadin passed Giesting to give District the lead on the penultimate lap of the third leg, and while he gave Centrowitz a lead of around two meters on the final exchange, all three teams were close thanks to a heroic 1:45.55 leg from Kemboi (the fastest of the night) to put Atlanta back in it.
Centrowitz split 27 seconds for the first 200 meters of the anchor leg, at which point NJ*NY assistant coach Tommy Nohilly, worried about the record slipping away, screamed out “They’re slow! You have to get around him!” to NJ*NY anchor Jesse Garn.
Garn, who has never made a USA final on the track, could be excused for hesitating after being told that the Olympic champion was running too slow and he needed to pass him, but Garn responded quickly and passed Centrowitz 300 meters into the leg. Centrowitz, racing for the first time since the World Championships in August 2017, kept it close for the rest of the race, but it was Garn who powered away in the home straight, throwing his arms to the side and letting out a scream of joy across the finish line as he cinched the world record. Atlanta anchor Lasater wound up passing Centrowitz for second on the home straight as the Olympic champion could only manage a 1:48.98 anchor split.
Results (courtesy Lancer Timing)
1 Hoka Njnytc 'A' 7:11.30B 1) Mcasey, Joe 2) Merber, Kyle 3) Giesting, Chris 4) Garn, Jesse 2 Atlanta Track Club 'A' 7:11.84B 1) Hazouri, Brandon 2) Peterson, Patrick 3) Kemboi, Edward 4) Lasater, Brandon 3 District of Columbia 'A' 7:12.25B 1) Henderson, Blair 2) Livingston, Strymar 3) Ibadin, Edose 4) Centrowitz, Matthew -- Hoka Njnytc 'B' DNF 1) Napolitano, Rob 2) Palmer, Ford 3) Alexander, Colby 4) Cabral, Donn
Quick Take: NJ*NY TC did it for Gags
Legendary NJ*NY coach Frank Gagliano was feeling a bit under the weather and did not make it to Boston for tonight’s meet, but his men gave him something to smile about at practice tomorrow.
“This was so important to him,” Merber said. “He’s just all about the team. Obviously it’s just his background coming from the college system. But he is so proud of team accomplishments like this. And we find that our team really performs or underperforms together. And we saw that everyone earlier today was really crushing things today. NJ*NY had a great day. And so when you see your teammates doing great right before you, you gain a lot of confidence.”
Quick Take: This was an awesome race…it’s too bad no one was around to see it
I spoke to a couple of coaches after the race, and they both told me essentially the same thing: Heck of a race. Would have been nice if there had been some fans, though.
When Edward Cheserek ran his 3:49.44 mile on this track two weeks ago, he did so in front of a packed house of screaming fans. As a spectator, it was impossible to hear yourself think on the final lap. The atmosphere was awesome, but it doesn’t happen by accident. Cheserek’s mile was scheduled in the middle of a large college invitational, and the large majority of spectators were athletes or parents/friends already in attendance for said meet. Tonight’s race, on the other hand, took place at 7:15 p.m. on a Sunday night as the final event of a last chance meet. Almost all of the teams/fans had filed out by the time the race started. My guess is that many of them didn’t even know there was a world record attempt featuring the Olympic 1500 champion at the end of the meet. I can’t say for sure how many fans were here earlier (I got in late) but there had to have been significantly more than the 100-200 remaining by the time the 4×800 took place.
Quick Take: You can call him “triple world record holder Kyle Merber”
Merber, whose 3:34.54 1500 pb ranks him 288th on the all-time list per Tilastopaja (he’s actually in a tie for 288th with three other athletes, including 1988 Olympic champ Peter Rono), has made a habit of collecting world records in rarely-contested events. At the 2015 World Relays, he ran the 1200 leg of the U.S.’s world-record-setting distance medley relay. Last year, Merber was part of the NJ*NY squad that broke the indoor 4xmile world record.* Today, he helped set the indoor 4×800 mark, which led fellow pro Joe Stilin to quip that Merber is now up to “3/4 of a world record, more than most of us can say.” And yes, this one should be ratified — Giesting and Merber both realized earlier this week that in order for the record to be ratified by the IAAF, they’d need to be drug-tested, so they texted their coaches to make sure that a doping control officer would be on hand.
This record also served as some redemption for Merber and NJ*NY. At the 2014 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, the NJ*NY squad of Merber, Brian Gagnon, Robby Andrews, and Mike Rutt ran under the previous WR but lost the race to the U.S. All-Star squad of Richard Jones, David Torrence, Duane Solomon and Erik Sowinski in a fantastic race that came down to Sowinski edging Rutt on the anchor leg. Once again, multiple teams broke the old record but this time Merber and NJ*NY were on the winning end.
*Unofficial, since the IAAF doesn’t officially recognize the 4xmile as a world record event.
Matthew Centrowitz interview
Centrowitz, who is heading to Australia next weekend to open his outdoor season, looked a little rusty tonight but felt good about how things have been going since relocating to the East Coast earlier this year. We have a full transcript up on the site in a separate article: LRC Matthew Centrowitz on His Move Back East, Trying to Break American Records, His 2017 Season, & His Upcoming Australian Trip
Rest of the meet: Joe Hoey Crushes HS National 800m Record, Emily Sisson World Leader in 5000, Japanese National Record in Mile, First Sub 4 in DIII Indoors
As I mentioned above, I got in late to the meet after driving back from watching the Heps at Dartmouth, so I didn’t get to see many events. Below are some highlights/results of note from earlier in the day.
Men’s 800: Hoey crushes HS national record
1 Harrison, Christian Baa 1:46.83 10 2 Hoey, Josh Hoey Investm 1:47.67 8 3 Hanamura, Takuto Kwansei Gaku 1:47.86 6 4 Capwell, Dylan Monmouth 1:47.86 5 5 Rienas, Marc Northeastern 1:49.87 3 6 Guerrera, Trevor Sacred Heart 1:50.69 2 -- Boudreau, Kevin Northeastern DNF
Oregon recruit Josh Hoey ran 1:47.67 to destroy the high school boys’ national record of 1:49.21, previously held by Robby Andrews.
Men’s mile: 14 men break 4:00; Hernandez becomes first D-III guy to break 4:00 indoors
Section 1 1 Yorks, Izaic Brooks Beast 3:53.40 10 2 Wynne, Henry Brooks Beast 3:55.23 8 3 Callahan, Peter Unattached 3:55.77 6 4 Kidder, Brannon Brooks Beast 3:56.06 5 5 Tatezawa, Ryoji Tokai University 3:57.43 4 6 Palmer, Ford Hoka Njnytc 3:58.84 2 7 Mann, Jordan Ocean State 3:58.94 1 8 Seki, Hayato Tokai University 3:59.03 9 Napolitano, Rob Hoka Njnytc 3:59.49 10 Hasty, Brodey Unattached 4:04.98 11 Sakaguchi, Ryohei Tokai University 4:05.51 12 Onizuka, Shota Tokai University 4:06.93 13 Curtin, Tommy Saucony 4:13.23 Section 2 1 Laari, sampson Ghana 3:58.65 3 2 Hernandez, Jeremy Ramapo 3:59.01 3 Buchanan, Reid Skechers Per 3:59.24 4 Serafini, Louis Tracksmith Hare AC 3:59.33 5 Miller, Chartt Iona 3:59.99 6 Dee, Liam Iona 4:00.69 7 Herrera, Daniel High Perform 4:02.76 8 Marco, Christopher Monmouth 4:03.51 9 Luevano, Paul Boston U. 4:11.69 10 Hillenbrand, Matt Baa 4:25.28 -- Harrison, Christian Baa DNF
The first section of the mile was very quick, with Izaic Yorks grabbing a convincing win in a PR of 3:53.40 to lead three men under 3:56 and nine under 4:00.
It was also a huge day for Japanese running. On the same day that Yuta Shitara set the national record in the marathon to lead six Japanese men sub-2:09, Tokai University’s Ryoji Tatezawa made history by breaking the Japanese record in the mile with his 3:57.43 clocking. Previously, the overall Japanese mile record was Kiyonari Shibata‘s outdoor 3:58.89 from 1996 (no Japanese man had ever broken 4:00 indoors). Tatezawa’s teammate Hayato Seki ran 3:59.03 in the same heat, making Tatezawa and Seki just the fifth and sixth members of the Japanese sub-4:00 club. The specialization of events in Japan and the U.S. is quite amazing. Check these stats out:
Six Americans broke 4:00 in the mile in section 1 of today’s BU Last Chance Meet. Six Japanese men have broken 4:00. Ever.
Six Japanese men broke 2:09 in the marathon at today’s Tokyo Marathon. Eight Americans have broken 2:09. Ever.
In section 2, Jeremy Hernandez of Ramapo College became the first D-III runner to break 4:00 indoors (Haverford’s Karl Paranya went sub-4:00 outdoors in 1997).
Women’s 5,000: Emily Sisson runs world-leading 15:13
1 Sisson, Emily New Balance 15:13.76 2 Cardin, Jessie Westfield State 17:14.34 3 Herrmann, Emma Williams 17:39.17 4 Pellegrini, Cayla Unattached 17:42.06 5 Ruxin, Talia Middlebury 18:18.70 6 Harrison, Cara Unattached 18:40.15 -- Coogan, Katrina New Balance DNF
Discuss the meet on our messageboard:
MB: 3 Teams Break 4×800 World Record in One Race and Hoka One One NY/NJ Track Club Is Your New 4×800 World Record Holders
MB: Jeremy Hernandez- First ever D3 sub-4 indoors
MB: Boston Univ Last Chance Meet on PEDs.