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LetsRun.com: A Fan's Guide To The 2009 Prefontaine Classic
June 5, 2009
Below you will find the previews for nearly all of the events we expect to see on television (2-4 pm NBC EST on Sunday). We present the coverage in chronological order and preview the men's long jump, men's steeple, men's 400h, women's discus, women's 1,500, women's long jump, men's 100, women's 100h, men's high jump, men's shot put, men's 3,000, women's 400, men's 800, women's 100, women's 800, men's 300, women's 2k and men's mile. All times listed are EST.
Men's Long Jump (1:38 pm)
Last year in Hengelo, Saladino jumped 8.73, one of only 2 recorded jumps over 8.73 since Carl Lewis and Mike Powell were soaring 8.87 and 8.95 (WR) back in 1991.
One of the big reasons the 2008 Olympics were a disappointment for the US track & field squad was the performance by the US competitors in the field events. The shot putters came in ranked 1-3 in the world and only managed silver (Christian Cantwell). But compared to events like the long jump, triple jump and high jump, silver was pretty good, as the US couldn't manage a finalist in those technical events.
Dwight Phillips, who won the 2005 WC's and 2004 Olympics with jumps around 8.60, could
LONG JUMP: Irving Saladino (Panama), Dwight Phillips, Yayah Berrabah (Morocco), Miguel Pate, Fabrice Lapierre (Australia), Brian Johnson
Men's Steeplechase (1:46 pm - just prior to start to tv broadcast)
Kemboi ran 7:58 in that race for one of the best steeple performances in the history of track and field, while Koech still finished second in 8:01. We are pretty sure that Koech set the American all-comers steeple record last year, but it could go to either one of these guys if the conditions are right.
Behind the two 8:00 guys are a slew of guys from America. Aside from Anthony Famiglietti and Dan Lincoln, this race is basically showing us all of America's top steeplers and is going to give us a good idea of who is going to represent the US this summer in Berlin. Billy Nelson and Josh McAdams earned Olympic spots next year but they are basically neck-and-neck with guys like Kyle Alcorn and Tom Brooks, who represented the US the year before in Osaka.
This race, however, might not tell us a whole lot unless the Americans run as a pack for a while. If they go out way too hard then it will just be a mess.
We're a little confused about what the rabbit will be doing as Luke Watson likely can't keep pace for Koech and Kemboi for more than 3 laps. That's no dig against Watson; running 2:40 1,000m pace over hurdles for more than about 1,000m is no easy task for a guy who has been running 8:40s to 8:50s. If he sets the pace for the Americans at the World Championships A standard, that would make much more sense, though it would be a bit strange to have a rabbit back behind the leaders.
Strange but true: Neither Kemboi nor Koech medalled in Beijing. Koech didn't even make the Kenyan team despite running the fastest time in the world in 2008. The medallists were Kipruto (gold), some French guy (silver) and Richard Matelong (bronze).
More American analysis: the reason McAdams (right) and Nelson made the Beijing team is their kicking prowess. Fam set a strong pace in the Trials steeple final and these guys were able to endure the tough pace and finish strongly. They kicked very well in the Eugene Trials of 2008. Also in the field on Sunday will be sub-8:20 guy Brian Olinger as well as veteran Steve Slattery (8:15 PR!) as well as younger guys only a couple years removed from NCAA competition Ben Bruce (8:26 this year) and Dan Huling. We'll see how they stack up and what pace they decide to set.
LRC Prediction: 1. Koech 2. Kemboi 3. McAdams ? 4. Too close to call
STEEPLECHASE: Paul Koech (Kenya), Billy Nelson, Kyle Alcorn, Dan Huling, Josh McAdams, Roba Gary (Ethiopia), Ben Bruce, Tom Brooks, Steve Slattery, Brian Olinger, Ezekiel Kemboi (Kenya), Luke Watson--pace
Men's 400m Hurdles (2:03 pm)
Hopefully the hurdles will be set up properly this time.
LRC Prediction: 1. Kerron Clement (we think he's the best this year) 2. Angelo Taylor 3. Bershawn Jackson
400 METER HURDLES: Angelo Taylor, Kerron Clement, Isa Phillips (Jamaica), Bershawn Jackson, Markino Buckley (Jamaica), James Carter, Kenneth Ferguson, Michael Tinsley
Women's Discus (2:07 pm)
Women's 1,500 (2:10 pm)
Whoever is the top American in this race certainly will be in the battle for 2nd. Normally if we told you that Christin Wurth-Thomas, who PRed in 4:03.96 last week at Reebok two weeks after nearly breaking her 800 personal best, you might think she'd be the favorite to be the top American. You'd be wrong, as the field includes 2008 US Olympic Trials champ Shannon Rowbury making her outdoor track debut. Rowbury ran 4:00 last year. What type of form is she in this year?
But wait. Rowbury is not the favorite for top American honors in our mind. We've got to go with Anna Willard, who ran 1:59 last week at Reebok. Despite the fact that her 1,500 PR is only 4:06, we're going with Willard as she has been sensational so far in 2009 and is a bit more race sharp.
What makes this race really interesting to us is that it also includes US steeplechase record holder Jenny Barringer. It will be great to see a preview of the Barringer - Willard steeple clash we expect to see at USAs in this race. At the shorter distance of 1,500, Barringer is a huge underdog as her PR for the 800 is just 2:05.43 and 4:08 for 1,500.
A nice subplot to this race is if Barringer can get Hannah England's collegiate record of 4:06.19. We say yes.
Oh yeah, Olympic 10k bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan is also in this race but her 1,500 PR is 4:05, so she'll struggle to get in the top 3 most likely. Also factor in Rowbury's former teammate with coach John Cook, Erin Donahue (right). Treniere Clement, who won the US 1,500 title in 2005, 2006 and 2007, is also racing but, like Alan Webb, her struggles from 2008 have carried over to 2009 as she only ran 4:09 last week in New York.
LetsRun.com Prediction: 1) Burka 2) Willard 3) Alminova 4) Rowbury 5) Wurth-Thomas
Entire field: Nancy Lagat (Kenya), Gelete Burka (Ethiopia), Anna Alminova (Russia), Shannon Rowbury, Christin Wurth-Thomas, Nuria Fernandez (Spain), Erin Donohue, Meskerem Assefa (Ethiopia), Anna Willard - 4:06.26, Jenny Barringer - 4:08.38, Nikeya Green--pace, Shayne Culpepper, Shalane Flanagan, Treniere Clement
Women's Long Jump (2:19 pm)
LRC Prediction: 1) Sokoleva 2) Reese 3) Balta 4) Jimoh
LONG JUMP: Brittney Reese, Funmi Jimoh , Knjesa Balta (Estonia), Tianna Madison, Yelena Sokolova (Russia), Hyleas Fountain, Grace Upshaw, Tabia Charles (Canada), Jovanne Jarrett, Brianna Glenn
Men's 100 (2:23 pm)
We're excited though about this race because it's the first time 100 and 200 meter medallist Walter Dix (left) will be competing in front of a large crowd in 2009. Dix is in a dispute with his agent and not allowed to run in appearance-money races, but since this is a requirement of his Nike deal, he is good to go. Dix is tied with Padgett with the fastest wind-legal mark in 2009 (10.00).
LRC Prediction: 1) Dix 2) Padgett 3) Rodgers
Men 100m: Asafa Powell (Jamaica), Walter Dix, Michael Rodgers, Churandy Martina (Neth Antilles), Richard Thompson (Trinidad), Marc Burns (Trinidad), Jaysuma Ndure (Norway), Travis Padgett
Women's 100m Hurdles (2:30 pm)
But what we have is really good. Gold medal winner Dawn Harper (right) is here, as is medal winner Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. They'll have plenty of competition from the field listed below. There are probably about 6 women who could win this race, which is exciting. If you haven't read it yet, check out Dawn Harper's story.
LRC Prediction: We'll go with Canada getting their only event win on the day from either Perdita or Priscilla.
100 HURDLES: Dawn Harper, Brigitte Foster-Hylton (Jamaica), Damu Cherry, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (Canada), Ginny Powell, Michelle Perry, Perdita Felicien (Canada), Hyleas Fountain--alternate, Vonette Dixon (Jamaica)
Men's High Jump (2:35 pm)
Britain's Germaine Mason won a silver medal at the Olympics and will be in the competition. America is represented by the #1 and #2 seeded jumpers in the world in Andra Manson (2.35) and Eugene resident Jesse Williams (2.34). German Raul Spank is 4th on the world list with a 2.31.
Other jumpers of note are American standouts Jamie Nieto and Dusty Jonas, as well as Bahama's high-jump neophyte Donald Thomas.
HIGH JUMP Jesse Williams, Andrey Silnov (Russia), Raul Spank (Germany), Ivan Ukhov (Russia), Yaroslav Rybakov. Andra Manson, Dusty Jonas, Donald Thomas (Bahamas)
Men's Shot Put (2:38 pm)
SHOT PUT Tomasz Majewski (Poland), Christian Cantwell, Andrey Mikhnevich (Belarus), Reese Hoffa, Adam Nelson, Dorian Scott (Jamaica), Dylan Armstrong (Canada), Dan Taylor
Men's 3,000m (2:42 pm)
Sileshi Sihine is a virtually unbeatable runner from Ethiopia who would have about 8 global championship gold medals were it not for countryman Kenenisa Bekele. Eliud Kipchoge is one of the top 5,000m runners in the world (finished 2008 as #2 behind Bekele). Saif Shaheen opened his season in Doha, Qatar, running about 7:32 for this same distance. He finished behind Kipchoge, who ran a stunning 7:28! Shaheen, the world record holder (7:53) in the 3,000m steeplechase, said after the race that he was very happy with his race considering it was his first one back.
Guys like Moses Masai (one of the top 5 10,000m runners of all-time with a 26:49 PR) and 20-year-old Mathew Kisorio (6th at World cross-country) probably won't make the top three in this loaded race (we haven't even mentioned a couple of very fast Ethiopians).
American running fans will also have the pleasure of watching some of our best homegrown talent in Chris Solinsky (left, 13:18 this year), Matt Tegenkamp (left, 13:22 this year) and Brent Vaughn (13:18 PR), as well as former NCAA wrecking ball Alistair Cragg competing for Ireland.
Trying to figure out who might make the US world team in the 5,000m? This race may help. Lagat, if he chooses to run the 5,000 at Worlds, is a lock, but the other
LRC Prediction: 1) Kipchoge 2) Lagat 3) Sihine 4) Shaheen 5) ?3000 METERS: Bernard Lagat, Sileshi Sihine, Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya), Moses Masai (Kenya), Abreham Feleke (Ethiopia), Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky, Leonard Komon (Kenya), Matthew Kisorio (Kenya), Saif Shaheen (Qatar), Brent Vaughn, Alistair Craig, Dejen Gebremeskel, Steve Sherer--pace, Julius Achon--pace
Women's 400 (2:58 pm)
We could probably make a case for everyone in the field having a shot at winning except for 2008 US Olympian Christain Smith (right, in one of the 2008 Trials' most memorable moments), who is a bit outclassed in the field. Leading the way in terms of recent accomplishments is 2007 World champ and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Alfred Yego. Yego is still only 22 and comes into the meet in good form as he ran a PB of 3:34 in Doha to open his outdoor season. He set the Pre-Classic record of 1:44.01 last year. Well, it's not actually clear that Yego is the leader in terms of recent accomplishments, as the Olympic silver medallist from Beijing, Sudan's Ahmad Ismail, is also running in his outdoor debut for 2009 after running 1:44.75 indoors. 2004 Olympic champ Yuriy Borzakovskiy will also be making his outdoor debut in this race. Borzakovskiy ran 1:42 last summer. Rounding out the foreign-based competitors is Morocco's Amine Laalou, who has run 1:43 or 1:44 each of the last 6 years, including an impressive 1:43.36 last Monday in Hengelo. Laalou may be poised for a career-best year as it looks like some overdistance training may be paying dividends for him, as prior to the 1:43, he ran the first 1,500 of his life and got 2nd in Morocco in 3:34.
There are five North American-based Olympians in the race in Canadian Gary Reed (world rank #5 last year), Kenyan Boaz Lalang and Americans Khadevis Robinson (left), Nick Symmonds, and Christian Smith. All of them but Symmonds raced last week at Reebok, with Robinson getting the win in 1:46.00 over Reed's 1:46.22, Lalang's 1:46.48, and Smith's 1:46.69. Symmonds opened up last week in Oregon with a 1:46.25 so he should be a factor as well.
In terms of predictions, we don't think it's smart to go with guys who haven't raced this year, so we're ruling out Borzakovskiy and Ismail. We'd love to see KD get the win as a sort of redemption for his Olympic Trials heart-breaking 4th place finish in his last race at Hayward field, but it's a long way from 1:46 to 1:43.
Editor's Addition 6/6/09: HSer Elijah Greer (and soon-to-be Oregon Duck) is a late entrant into the field. He'll be going for Michael Granville's HS record of 1:46.45 from 1996. Greer has run 1:47.68 so he has a shot. The record may bring a curse with it as Granville never ran faster than he did in HS.
LRC Prediction: 1) Yego 2) Laalou 3) Robinson 4) Symmonds 5) Reed 6) Lalang 7) Ismail 8) Borzakovskiy 9) Smith
Women's 100 (3:11 pm)
LRC Prediction. 1) Stewart 2) Edwards 3) Lee
Women's 800 (3:23 pm)
2007 US Champ Alysia Johnson hasn't been running great so far this year.
LetsRun.com Predictions: A lot of runners have the opportunity of a lifetime to beat Jelimo. Man, this is a tough race to predict as we aren't really sure what the two Kenyans will do.
LRC Prediction: 1) Sinclair 2) Andrianova 3) Jelimo 4) Jepkosgei 5) Clark 6) Simpson 7) Johnson
Men's 300 (3:29 pm)
The guy we expect to be third is Trinidad's Rennie Quow, who ran a 44.89 last week.
LRC Prediction: 1) Merritt 2) Spearmon 3) Quow
Women's 2,000m (3:38 pm)
Kara Goucher returns to racing on the big stage after a primer meet about 10 days ago in Oregon. She'll face American Olympians Jen Rhines and Amy Yoder-Begley plus a race-sharp Sara Hall, who has competed well this year against weaker competition than will be found in this race. Goucher ran great shorter races this winter against some decent American competition on the track. This will be an interesting challenge for her against some of the best the US and the world has to offer.
With no disrespect to the American women, they are likely going to have a great deal of difficulty keeping up with Bahrain's Maryam Jamal and a quartet of Kenyans led by Linet Masai (left). Jamal is the reigning world 1,500m champion and has a 3:56.18 PR at 1,500m. Masai must be brimming with confidence as she just flew in from New York where she beat one of the greatest runners ever, Tirunesh Dibaba, at her best event, running 14:35 for 5,000m.
As for the other Kenyan entrants: Vivian Cheruiyot is a 4:06/8:28 runner who ran 4:08 this past weekend and ran a Kenyan record 8:30 indoors this year. Sally Kipyego is a 4:08/8:48 runner, so she is a ways behind the top women as far as PRs go. Pauline Korikwiang is a wild card who has competed sparingly this year. She ran 14:45 as a junior runner, good enough for the Kenyan junior record.
LetsRun.com Prediction: 1) Maryam Jamal 2) Linet Masai 3) Vivian Cheruiyot 4) Kara Goucher 5) Sally Kipyego
W 2000 METERS Startlist - Maryam Jamal (Bahrain), Linet Masai (Kenya), Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya), Pauline Korikwiang (Kenya), Jen Rhines, Sara Hall, Sally Kipyego (Kenya), Marina Muncan--pace. Amy Yoder-Begley, Kara Goucher, Lauren Hagans
Foreign Based Runners in Bowerman Mile at 2009 Pre Classic
Bowerman Mile (3:52 pm)
We don't care what you read elsewhere; the men's mile is about one thing in our minds - the US debut of (hopefully) soon-to-be 2008 Olympic 1,500 champ Asbel Kiprop. Kiprop is a miling sensation in our minds. Not like that's an original thought since he's likely to be the Olympic champ and he's still only 19. Kiprop would put on a fine show as he's in amazing form having run 1:43.17 in Doha before getting the win in Hengelo on Monday in 3:34.45.
But the race is far, far from a one-man show. The #1 ranked 1,500 meter runner last year according to Track & Field News was Kenya's Haron Keitany. In Doha this year, he ran faster than the world leader from 2008 as he clocked 3:30.90 - which came after a 2:16 1k showing indoors. We'd expect those two to clearly battle for the win, although there are a few other foreign-based runners that could be in the mix (see box).
American Based Runners in Bowerman Mile at 2009 Pre Classic
As for North American-based runners, there are three runners that we think at least stay in contention for a while. US Olympian Leonel Manzano comes into his first Pre Classic full of confidence having run 3:55 in the mile and 3:34 for 1,500 each of the last two weeks in victories. Alan Webb's old college teammate also could be up there, as Nate Brannen has been running well so far in 2009. The race in our minds is a huge test for Lopez Lomong. Lomong has only looked
mediocre recently in two 800s (1:48.42, 1:47.42) and his 1,500 debut at adidas (3:39.90), although he did split 3:54 in his outdoor opener at Penn Relays. All three of those guys, if they run well, could break Alan Webb's high school PR of 3:53.43 (We be shocked if Manzano didn't break it).