**Bailey Roth Sets American 3000m Steeplechase High School Record**
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
July 25, 2014
EUGENE, OREGON — A morning of preliminary rounds here on the fourth day of the IAAF World Junior Championships saw all of the pre-race favorites advance in the women’s 1500m, men’s 3000m steeplechase, and men’s 800m. Among those running tactically savvy races to move on in their respective disciplines were Ethiopian Dawit Seyaum, Kenyans Barnabas Kipyego and Titus Kipruto Kibiego, and Americans Alexa Efraimson, Elise Cranny, and Bailey Roth. Roth, 18, set an American high school record in the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 8:48.60.
SEYAUM, EFRAIMSON IMPRESS IN 1500m
Coming into the first round of the women’s 1500m, many eyes were on Seyaum and Efraimson. Split up between two sections, it was Efraimson taking the oval at historic Hayward Field first.
As soon as the gun sounded, the rising high school senior from Camas, Wash., burst to the front, establishing her position alongside Great Britain’s Bobby Clay and Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay.
“I just wanted to make sure to stay on the outside and not get boxed in, and just get top four,” she said, explaining the strategy her and coach Mike Hickey had put into place.
Running in lane two, Efraimson wasn’t going to let anyone make too bold of a move. Covering even the slightest surge by Tsegay and Kenya’s Sheila Chepngetich Keter, Efraimson held strong, safely in third.
After taking the bell in 3:12.28, the real race started as the group entered the backstretch. Keter and Tsegay began to break away, while Efraimson and Clay ran side by side two steps behind.
Halfway down the homestretch Tsegay passed Keter, going on to win 4:15.62 to 4:16.13. Behind, Clay fought hard to nip Efraimson a step from the line for third. Both advanced to Sunday’s final based on placement; their times were 4:16.56 and 4:16.87, respectively.
“I’m ready and excited and feeling fit,” Efraimson told a large group of reporters. “I know I can go faster than that so I felt good in control.”
In heat two, the field seemed well aware of Seyaum’s credentials, including a 3:59.53 personal best from last month and a World Youth Championships silver medal from 2013. No one was going to try and challenge the 17-year-old up front.
Leading every step of the way, Seyaum heard the bell and opened up her stride, extending a lead ahead of the pack. Back in sixth was Niwot, Colo., native Cranny, who’d run most of the contest boxed in along the rail.
While Seyaum maintained her tempo out front –eventually winning in 4:14.72– the American advanced through the field, swiftly passing a pair of athletes. Across the line in fourth, Cranny was pleased to take care of business.
“I just wanted to make the final so I was glad I was able to make top four so I didn’t have to worry about time,” said the Stanford-bound 18-year-old. Going into the final, her goals are to run faster than 4:10.95, her personal best.
“I don’t really know what to expect,” she said. “I’m not really sure, just got to be prepared for any kind of race.”
Seyaum, the winner, walked swiftly by all media members seeking comment and did not stop to talk to IAAF interviewers.
Efraimson and Cranny will try to finish on the podium come Sunday. Never has an American woman medaled in the 1500m at these championships.
KENYANS WIN STEEPLECHASE WHILE ROTH SETS AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL RECORD
For 13 straight IAAF World Junior Championships, Kenya has won gold in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. Barnabas Kipyego and Titus Kipruto Kibiego showed why the African nation has had so much success in the discipline, controlling both preliminary sections with ease.
In the opening heat, Kipyego led a breakaway pack of three that included Ethiopian Meresa Kahsay and Bahrain’s Evans Rutto Chematot. By 2000 meters, the group was 50 meters clear of the field. They’d claim the top three spots in 8:31.72, 8:38.01, and 8:40.37.
“It was a very enjoyable race. I am happy,” said Kipyego. “Not pushing too much.”
Interestingly, Kipyego ran from lane one into lane six when approaching the finish line.
“Normally Kenyans finish in lane six, yes,” he’d tell Race Results Weekly with a wide smile and laugh.
Well behind Kipyego and crew, the University of Arizona-bound Bailey Roth fought valiantly over each barrier, trying his best to earn a qualifying position.
“I just really wanted to catch those guys ahead of me. They were pretty close so I was like, ‘Man, I want to get an automatic placement to the final,'” he said.
In only his second 3000m steeplechase contest ever, Roth managed to finish seventh in 8:48.60. The time –good enough to advance on to Sunday’s final– was an American high school record. The previous mark of 8:50.1, which had stood since 1979, was set by Jeff Hess here in Eugene. Hess attended South Eugene High School just down the road, where he still coaches cross country.
“I knew I was capable of doing it. I was happy about the time, but personally I really just wanted to catch those guys,” he said. “I had to go out there and earn it.”
A similar lead pack of three established themselves in the second heat of the steeplechase, as Kibiego, Morocco’s Soufiane Elbakkali, and Hailemariyam Amare finished first through third. Their times were 8:49.95, 8:50.19, and 8:54.92, well slower than the first heat.
American Bryce Miller was seventh in 9:06.17.
KENYA’s MASIKONDE FASTEST IN FIRST ROUND OF 800m
A toweringly tall Joshua Tiampati Masikonde led all qualifiers in the men’s 800m. Racing in the fifth of six heats, Masikonde was the only athlete to dip under 1:48, crossing the line in 1:47.84.
Masikonde is a clear medal favorite along with Kenyan teammate Alfred Kipketer; the tandem are the only athletes in the field to have run faster than 1:46 this season. Kipketer won his section in 1:49.80, challenged for a majority of the race by American Tre’tez Kinnaird.
“It was not a bit difficult,” Kipketer told Race Results Weekly, speaking in a very, very soft tone. “I would like it, like to win gold.”
Kinnaird, passed just before the line by The Netherlands’ Tony Van Diepen, took third in his section (1:50.07). The placing was good enough to advance him to Saturday’s semi-finals.
Among the other heat winners were Australian Luke Mathews (1:50.76), Swede Andreas Almgren (1:50.27), Ethiopian Jena Umar (1:49.44), and Austrian Nikolaus Franzmair (1:49.30).
American Myles Marshall failed to advance out of the second heat, placing eighth in 1:53.98.
Tonight, competition continues with the men’s 5000m final.