June 1, 2013
(Eugene, OR) – The 2013 Prefontaine Classic men’s steeplechase had everybody. All three 2012 Olympic medalists in Ezekiel Kemboi, Mahledine Benabbad Mekhissi and Abel Mutai as well as 2012 Word Junior champion Conseslus Kipruto, 7:54 man Paul Koech, and American record holder Evan Jager.
In our preview we said that while Kipruto might be the future of the event, we weren’t sure if he or two-time Olympic champion Kemboi was the present. Well Kipruto proved that he’s just as good as anyone as he got his second Diamond League win of the season (he also won in Shanghai in 8:01) with a 8:03.59 meet record, but only after some controversy and a really exciting finish. Let’s hope their rivalry continues all summer.
With 250 meters to go, Kemboi looked like the same Kemboi who made a mockery of world’s best over the final 200 at the 2011 World and 2012 Olympics as he went to the lead and started the push for home. He really acclerated coming off the final water jump and it seemed as if victory was soon to be his as he’d gapped his challengers.
But perhaps since it was his first steeple of the year, Kemboi may have misjudged things as suddenly he seemed vulnerable. His 5 plus meter lead appeared in danger when he looked over his shoulder just before the final barrier.
It was a thrilling final 100 meters as Kipruto fought hard to come back and pass Kemboi. Kemboi was a sitting duck out in lane two and he seemingly knew it as he veered back into lane one to try to cut Kipruto off and when that didn’t work he basically gave Kipruto a shove just meters before the finish line.
Kipruto went inside of lane one, but soon recovered and came back into lane one and crossed the finish line first in 8:03.59. After the shove, it was almost as if Kemboi knew he’d done something wrong as he seemingly just jogged across the line in second in 8:03.94, although he waved his finger at Kipruto acting like Kipruto was the one who had done something wrong. Kemboi’s second place finish didn’t last long as he soon was disqualified for a clear foul.
With Kemboi a DQ, the next 3 official finishers were Koech (2nd – 8:05.86), Mekhissii Benabbbad (3rd – 8:06.60) and Evan Jager (5th – 8:08.60). Olympic bronze medalist Mutai was 7th (8:10.04).
Results, Race video and Quick Takes below:
3000 Metres Steeplechase - Men Pts 1 Kipruto , Conseslus KEN 8:03.59 4 2 Kemboi , Ezekiel KEN 8:03.94 2 3 Koech , Paul Kipsiele KEN 8:05.86 1 4 Mekhissi-Benabbad , Mahiedine FRA 8:06.60 5 Jager , Evan USA 8:08.60 6 Yego , Hillary Kipsang KEN 8:09.84 7 Mutai , Abel Kiprop KEN 8:10.04 8 Birech , Jairus Kipchoge KEN 8:12.65 9 Huling , Daniel USA 8:22.38 10 Nganga , Bernard Mbugua KEN 8:29.43 11 Sigueni , Hicham MAR 8:29.82 12 Bruce , Ben USA 8:38.11 13 Mesfin , Nahom ETH 8:38.16 Lagat , Haron KEN DNF Taleb , Brahim MAR DNS
Quick Take #1: This really was an exciting finish and the contact between Kipruto and Kemboi made it that much more interesting. While Kemboi’s actions were worthy of a clear DQ, we almost wish they’d let him stay second and keep the prize money. Kipruto still got across the line first and no one else was close, but we guess they can’t do that as then it encourages people to try similar shenanigans in the future.
Leader to leader, the last lap was 59 but Kipruto was only fifth going into the last lap and ran a 58. We had fun talking to the 18-year old Kipruto after the race. While very pleased to have won, he took the high road and refused to say whether he thought Kemboi should be DQd or whether this meant he now is the top dog in the steeple at just 18.
We know one thing. He’s a phenom.
QT#2: This was an impressive steeple opener for Jager. He ran 8:08.60 when his American record is 8:06.81. So in his first steeple of the year he’s where it took him 4 races (5 if you include heats) to get to last year. True this is much later than his first steeple last year, but still, we’re sure there was some “steeple rust” to be shaken off and in his interview he even mentioned a losing momentum on some bad barrier jumps.
QT#3: We timed Jager’s last lap in about 63. We told this to Jager and he said he and Coach Jerry Shumacher have talked about this and know that to have a shot to medal he needs to be able to close in at least 57 and they’re “going to have to figure out how to do that.”
QT#4: The second American in this race was Jager’s new training partner, Dan Huling, who was 9th and got the “A” standard at 8:22.38. He is one of only 3 Americans who have it this year. However, that wasn’t at all comforting to Huling who in his post-race interview said he thought he should have ran at least 8:15 here (his PR is 8:13 from 2010) and wasn’t happy with this. He said he thinks training with Jager is really beneficial, but he struggles sometimes coming off of altitude training and knows he’ll be in a better place come Des Moines.
More LRC Pre Coverage:
Highlight:Women’s 800:High Schooler Mary Cain Breaks 2:00 As Francine Niyonsaba Dominates
5k: Mo Farah is Beaten By Edwin Soi as Galen Rupp Finishes Sixth
Bowerman Mile: Silas Kiplagat Steals The Race From Asbel Kiprop at The Line as 9 Guys Run 3:51 or Faster
Steeple: Conseslus Kipruto Survives Ezekiel Kemboi’s Shove; Evan Jager 8:08
Men’s 800: Mohammed Aman Dominates As Nick Symmonds Debuts in Third
5k: Tirunesh Dibaba Survives A Scare From Mercy Cherono
1500: Hellen Obiri Wins in 3:58 as Treniere Moser and Sheila Reid Run 4:02
Friday: Kenenisa Bekele Wins 10,000m, But Time Disappoints at 2013 Prefontaine Classic
*Men’s International Mile: James Magut Wins, No HS Sub-4 As Will Leer Gets Top American Honors as Andrew Wheating Runs ‘Scared’
*Men’s National 1500: Garrett Heath Wins, Chris Solinsky’s Lacking Speed And Alan Webb Struggles But Is Happy
*Women’s 800: Phoebe Wright Gets The Win, Ajee Wilson’s Winning Streak Comes To An End And Gabrielle Anderson PR’s