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2009 Prefontaine Classic Recap
by: LetsRun.com
June 7, 2009
*Race Results and Videos

Men's 400h

What a race. Coming into the final turn, there were nearly 5 guys abreast. You had the three Olympic medallists as well as 2009 world leader Isa Phillips and fellow Jamaican Michael Tinsley. In the end, it was Bershawn Jackson, who struggled on hurdle #2, coming on late to get the win. The early leader, Olympic champ Angelo Taylor, ended up 4th.

NBC Video of Men's 400 Hurdles

  1 Bershawn Jackson             USA                      48.38
  2 Isa Phillips                 Jamaica                  48.55
  3 Kerron Clement               USA                      48.73
  4 Angelo Taylor                USA                      48.79
  5 Michael Tinsley              USA                      48.80
  6 Markino Buckley              Jamaica                  50.80
  7 Kenneth Ferguson             USA                            

Men's Steeplechase
Ezekiel Kemboi
apparently was a scratch so we thought it would be a one-man show and it was. 20 seconds into the race and it reminded us of an uncompetitive women's race as the rabbit and top two runners were 10 meters up on the Americans. 62.22 for the first 400. Soon 2008 world #1 Paul Koech was all alone. The quest for a sub-8:00 was on. 5:20.78 at 2k but then Koech really died. 7:07 with a lap to go. He really cratered but he ended up at 8:13.44 for the win.

2008 Olympian Josh McAdams got the win in the "other" race at Pre - the battle to be the top American - as he was third in 8:26.55.

NBC Video of Men's Steeple

  1 Paul Koech                   Kenya                  8:13.44
  2 Roba Gary                    Ethiopia               8:21.22
  3 Josh McAdams                 USA                    8:26.55
  4 Rob Watson                   USA                    8:27.09
  5 Ben Bruce                    USA                    8:33.11
  6 Kyle Alcorn                  USA                    8:34.02
  7 Billy Nelson                 USA                    8:35.90
  8 Dan Huling                   USA                    8:36.47
  9 Brian Olinger                USA                    8:37.23
 10 Tom Brooks                   USA                    8:43.25
 11 Steve Slattery               USA                    8:45.13
 -- Luke Watson                  USA                        DNF

Not sure why the Prefontaine people changed the schedule to put this event on television. The B Heat of the 100 was on the tube as well. Ridiculous.

B Heat Of 100

  1 Rae Edwards                  USA                      10.10   0.1       
  2 Leroy Dixon                  USA                      10.18   0.1 10.171
  3 Ivory Williams               USA                      10.18   0.1 10.177
  4 Ryan Bailey                  USA                      10.18   0.1 10.179
  5 Jaysuma Ndura                Norway                   10.20   0.1       
  6 Shawn Crawford               USA                      10.21   0.1       
  7 Rodney Martin                USA                      10.43   0.1    

Women's 100 Hurldes
Olympic champ Dawn Harper went down after the 2nd hurdle. The race featured a very tight fish. Damu Cherry was in the lead for most of it but she got edged just at the line.

NBC Video of Women's Hurdles

1 Michelle Perry USA 12.74 "0.164"|
2 Damu Cherry USA 12.74 "0.166"
3 Priscilla Lopes-Schliep Canada 12.75 "0.179"
4 Perdita Felicien Canada 12.78 "0.137"
5 Brigitte Foster-Hylton Jamaica 13.08 "0.252"
6 Ginny Powell USA 13.20 "0.145"
7 Vonette Dixon Jamaica 13.31 "0.215"
--- Dawn Harper USA DNF

Men's 3,000
3 laps in and this race had the three top African-born runners up up front with the three top non-Africans white runners of Alistair Cragg, Matt Tegenkamp and Chris Solinsky (we had to say the non-politically correct thing of top 3 "white" runners as Ireland's Alistair Cragg was born in South Africa), 5 or so meters back. But after 1,600 was crossed in 4:03.21 and the rabbits dropped out, the pace slowed considerably and all six ran together.

Eliud Kipchoge was doing all the work with Bernard Lagat and Saif Shaheen sitting right behind him. We thought, "Kipchoge is a sitting duck. Lagat has this in the bag." In the end, that was the case, but not before Shaheen made things interesting before taking the lead with 200 to go. Lagat responded however and hammered home over the final 80 to get the win.

Final note: The NBC announcers hyped this race as a quest for a sub-7:30 race. When we saw that the rabbits were Julius Achon and Steve Sherer, we thought, "No chance those guys get the job done." Nothing against them, but to rabbit a sub-7:30 race, you need a stud to take it 2k in 5:02 at the slowest. They weren't close to doing that.

Look at Lagat's splits and you'll see what we are talking about.

30.44(30.44) 1:33.08(1:02.64) 2:32.46(59.39) 3:32.76(1:00.30) 4:34.85(1:02.09), 5:37.31(1:02.47) 6:39.77(1:02.47) 7:35.92(56.15)
Results Below. Individual Runners Split Here.

NBC Video of Men's 3000

  1 Bernard Lagat                USA                    7:35.92
  2 Saif Shaheen                 Qatar                  7:36.87
  3 Chris Solinsky               USA                    7:37.05
  4 Matt Tegenkamp               USA                    7:37.32
  5 Alistair Craigg              Ireland                7:37.84
  6 Eliud Kipchoge               Kenya                  7:38.24
  7 Moses Masai                  Kenya                  7:44.75
  8 Leonard Komon                Kenya                  7:45.53
  9 Scott Bauhs                  USA                    7:54.58
 10 Dejen Gebremeskel            Ethiopia               7:58.69
 11 Brent Vaughn                 USA                    8:09.82
 -- Julius Achon                 USA                        DNF
 -- Steve Sherer                 USA                        DNF        

Women's 400
Sanya Richards
looked incredible, making up the stagger almost instantly and crushing the field. She almost equalled her SB from last year of 49.74 by running 49.86 to Olympic silver medallist Shericka Williams' 50.74. Novlene Williams, who beat Richards earlier this year, was just 5th.

NBC Video of Women's 400

Finals 1 Sanya Richards USA 49.86
2 Shericka Williams Jamaica 50.72
3 Yuliya Guschina Russia 51.17
4 Amantle Montsho Botswana 51.31
5 Novlene Williams-Mills Jamaica 51.32
6 Anastasia Kapachinskaia Russia 51.67
7 Melaine Walker Jamaica 52.01
8 Natasha Hastings USA 52.33

Men's 800
This field was so stacked we weren't sure who to pick for next-to-last and last in our preview, as someone had to finish way back.

Once the gun went off, the runners all ran tentatively as if they knew how loaded the field was. Everyone was so worried about everyone else in the field that they forgot to run fast. Everyone was just sitting on everyone else. Matt Scherer rabbited the field through in 51.64 and no one went with him as Olympic bronze medallist Alfred Yego was 2nd in 52.27. At 600, the gap was even more pronounced as Scherer stepped off at 1:18.70. Yego was still in 2nd place at that point in 1:20.06, but Nick Symmonds was getting tired of waiting in the pack and was moving up. He was charging to the lead and just .03 back at 1:20.09.

Symmonds got the lead earlier than normal but he didn't give it up and got a much-deserved victory as he closed in 25.77. Yego ended up 2nd.

The pace went out way too slow for HSer Elijah Greer, who was hoping for the national HS record. He went to the back as he rightfully probably thought the pace would be hot. But his 400 split was just 53.45 - slower than the pace required for a 1:46.45.

Khadevis Robinson  tried going out in the middle of the pack instead of his trademark go-out-hard-and-see-what-happens style, but his plan backfired due to the slow first 600. No one was dying as no one went out hard. Robsinson closed in 25.99 - one of three sub-26 closes - but only finished 5th as he was just too far back.

In the 800, much like in horse racing, the runner needs to intuitively feel how fast the pace is or they may end up with a result that isn't indicative of their fitness.

Each runner's splits are here.

NBC Video of Men's 800

  1 Nick Symmonds                USA                    1:45.86
  2 Alfred Yego                  Kenya                  1:46.21
  3 Christian Smith              USA                    1:46.36
  4 Gary Reed                    Canada                 1:46.37
  5 Khadevis Robinson            USA                    1:46.64
  6 Yuriy Borzakovskiy           Russia                 1:47.05
  7 Ahmad Ismail                 Sudan                  1:47.83
  8 Elijah Greer                 USA                    1:49.15
 -- Matt Scherer                 USA                        DNF
 -- Boaz Lalang                  Kenya                      DNF

Women's 100
Carmelita Jeter
backed up her wind-aided 10.85 win in New York with another wind-aided 10.85 this week to set herself up as the early favorite for Berlin. Olympic silver medallist Kerron Stewart was 2nd as Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser was 4th.

NBC Video of Women's 100

  1 Carmelita Jeter              USA                      10.85   3.2
  2 Kerron Stewart               Jamaica                  10.90   3.2
  3 Muna Lee                     USA                      11.02   3.2
  4 Shelly-Ann Fraser            Jamaica                  11.10   3.2
  5 Lauryn Williams              USA                      11.12   3.2
  6 Marshevet Hooker             USA                      11.30   3.2
  7 Tianna Madison               USA                      11.31   3.2

Men's 100
Michael Rodgers backed up his win in New York with another victory. This time he joined the sub-10.00 club legitimately with a 9.94 legal-wind showing after his 9.93 wind-aided performance last week. He is now the 2009 world leader. Asafa Powell's agent talked up his chances big time before the race and Powell ended up 2nd in a somewhat disappointing 10.07. We say "somewhat disappointing" because, while the time wasn't the sub-10 that Powell wanted, he did beat the Olympic silver and bronze medallists in Walter Dix and Richard Thompson.

The sprinters need to realize that Berlin is a long way off and it's all about being healthy and on when it matters most.

NBC Video of Men's 100

1 Michael Rodgers USA 9.94 "0.110"
2 Asafa Powell Jamaica 10.07 "0.136"
3 Walter Dix USA 10.07 "0.126"
4 Travis Padgett USA 10.08 "0.116"
5 Richard Thompson Trinidad 10.09 "0.133"
6 Michael Frater Jamaica 10.18 "0.147"
7 Churundy Martina Netherland A 10.24 "0.120"
8 Marc Burns Trinidad 10.34 "0.156"

Women's 800
The "Oh my god" exclaimed after Maggie Vessey crossed the finish line said it all. This race was a total shocker.

Yes, Maggie Vessey, the woman with the slowest PR of everyone in the field had won. How? We don't know. Her PR up until last week was 2:02.01. Last week in New York, she ran 2:01.49 for 4th.

Given that she'd lost the first 800 of her life in her last outing, we weren't sure what Olympic champ Pamela Jelimo would do at the start. Would she be conservative? No. The race started with Jelimo going with the rabbit, former UPenn All-American Jese Carlin. If you needed to know just how inexperienced Jelimo is, all you had to do was watch her cut in after the one-turn stagger. Instead of gradually coming in, she made a beeline for lane 1 like a high school freshman.

They hit 400 way ahead of the field but by about 500 Jelimo slowed incredibly. The field gobbled her up after the 600 meter mark and Jelimo had absolutely nothing in response. At this point, Vessey was still in 6th. Yes, that's right. 6th with 150 to go but she sprinted to the lead and crossed the finish line first. She was so stunned she almost forgot to put her arm up to celebrate. Normally a runner does it right at the tape or just before the line. She was so stunned that she won that she did it after the line and then let out the "Oh my God."


NBC Video of Women's 800


  1 Maggie Vessey                USA                    2:00.18 
  2 Kenia Sinclair               Jamaica                2:01.02 
  3 Jemma Simpson                Great Britain          2:01.10 
  4 Hazel Clark                  USA                    2:01.12 
  5 Tatyana Andrianova           Russia                 2:01.16 
  6 Alysia Johnson               USA                    2:05.32 
  7 Pamela Jelimo                Kenya                  2:05.57 
 -- Jesse Carlin                 USA                        DNF        

Women's 2,000
This race ended up being a great battle between 2007 world 1,500 champ Mayam Jamal and Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot over the final 200. Cheruiyot, who set the Kenyan 3k national record this winter at 8:30, took the lead with 200 to go but Jamal, who had been in the lead for basically the entire race (ignoring the rabbits), didn't go down quietly. She fought back as they came into the final turn but Cheruiyot still had something in the tank.

Cheruiyot's is the fastest time ever run on US soil. Amy Yoder-Begley was the top American at 5:38.34.

Each runner's splits can be found here.

NBC Video of Women's 2000

 1 Vivian Cheruiyot             Kenya                  5:31.52
  2 Maryam Jamal                 Bahrain                5:31.88
  3 Linet Masai                  Kenya                  5:33.43
  4 Sally Kipyego                Kenya                  5:35.20
  5 Pauline Korikwiang           Kenya                  5:38.11
  6 Amy Yoder-Begley             USA                    5:38.34
  7 Kara Goucher                 USA                    5:41.28
  8 Jen Rhines                   USA                    5:51.69
  9 Sara Hall                    USA                    5:54.07
 10 Lauren Hagans                USA                    5:57.60
 -- Sara Vaughn                  USA                        DNF
 -- Marina Muncan                Serbia                     DNF

Men's 300
The Pre Classic was searching for records with this race as we think we heard the announcer say it was a sea-level world record.

Anyway, the race was interesting to us as LaShawn Merritt won it as we expected and showed how he's just faster than most 400-meter runners. The guys that did well in this race besides Merritt were more of the 200 guys who hung on. Except for Merritt, the pure 400 strength guys like Olympic bronze medallist David Neville or Rennie Quow (who put up a good fight last week against Merritt at 400) struggled. It shows you that a 400 isn't just won by the fastest 200-meter runners.

Merritt has looked great at 200 this year. He set a 0.01 PR at 300 today but his 400s haven't been that special yet.

NBC Video of Men's 300
1 LaShawn Merritt USA 31.30
2 Xavier Carter USA 31.93
3 Wallace Spearmon USA 32.14
4 Shawn Crawford USA 32.47
5 David Neville USA 32.49
6 Rennie Quow Trinidad 32.55
7 Tyler Christopher Canada 32.59
8 Darold Williamson USA 33.76

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