2015 Millrose Games Preview: Can Shannon Rowbury Get The AR In The women’s Mile?; Cam Levins Leads A Loaded Men’s 5k; Solomon, Andrews, Sowinski And Iguider In The 1k
By Jonathan Gault, Predictions by LetsRun.com Staff.
February 11, 2015
Now in its 108th year, the Millrose Games has traditionally been one of the highlights of the American indoor season and that is certainly the case once again in 2015. The meet has assembled fantastic collegiate and professional fields for both track and field events, but the highlight, as usual, is the men’s Wanamaker Mile (though the women’s mile, with the Nike Oregon Project quartet of Mary Cain, Treniere Moser, Jordan Hasay and Shannon Rowbury, is also packed with talent).
The men’s 2015 Wanamaker Mile is so good it has its own preview which we’ll post at 10 pm ET tonight, and there are plenty of stars in the other events as well. Sanya Richards-Ross (400), Ajee Wilson (800), Duane Solomon (1000), Cam Levins (5000), Ashton Eaton (60 hurdles and long jump), David Oliver (60 hurdles), Jenn Suhr (pole vault) and Will Claye (long jump) lead the professional fields. Collegiate studs Eric Jenkins (Oregon, 3000), Kate Avery (Iona, 3000) and Emily Sisson (Providence, 3000) will also line up in pursuit of fast times. Check out the meet details below and read on for previews of the mid-d/distance events.
What: 2015 Millrose Games
When: Saturday, February 14
Where: The Armory, New York, New York
How to watch: The meet will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
4:30-5:50pm ET – Live on USATF.tv – Watch Here
6-8pm ET – Live on TV via NBCSN (Check local listings for channel assignment)
8:05pm ET – USATF Cool Down – Watch Here
All events from these broadcast windows will be made available for on-demand viewing on USATF.tv.
NYRR Millrose Games Coverage:
Men’s 3000 (5:17 p.m. ET)
|Eric||Jenkins||USA||Univ of Oregon|
|Will||Geoghegan||USA||Univ of Oregon|
|Parker||Stinson||USA||Univ of Oregon|
|Jake||Leingang||USA||Univ of Oregon|
|Thomas||Awad||USA||Univ of Pennsylvania|
This event comes prior to the televised portion of the meet, but it should be a fast race as several collegiate studs go for NCAA qualifying times. All four Oregon runners figure to run well. Eric Jenkins ran 13:31 for 5000 three weeks ago in Kentucky and could have gone a lot faster; he could surpass his unofficial pb of 7:46.21 that he ran at 2013 NCAAs when he was DQ’ed. Fellow Ducks Parker Stinson (13:38), Will Geoghegan (13:43) and Jake Leingang (7:56 3000) also ran well in Kentucky and enter in good shape. Penn’s Thomas Awad and Syracuse’s Martin Hehir were both conference champions in cross country last fall, while Andy Bayer was NCAA 1500 champ in 2012. Look for a winning time in the mid-to-low 7:40s.
In terms of qualifying for the NCAA meet, the 16th time (16 are accepted) is currently 7:59.18, but a sub-7:55 clocking is surely something people will want to get if they want to have a good chance of qualifying. Only four guys have broken 7:55 this year but last year #16 was 7:53.13.
Some are speculating that Jenkins will go for the collegiate record in this race. Saturday marks the 11-year anniversay of Alistair Cragg‘s 7:38.59 CR.
LRC Prediction: Jenkins is the man but Cragg’s mark lives for another day.
Women’s 3000 (6:24 p.m.)
|Ashley||Higginson||USA||Saucony / NJNYTC|
Comparatively, this is a stronger field than the men’s 3000 as it features two former NCAA champs in Kenyans Sally Kipyego (world/Olympic silver medalist at 10,000; 5:40.35 2k for second in Boston last week) and Betsy Saina, who ran pbs of 8:38 and 14:39 last year on the track. Former University of Texas star Marielle Hall, who ran 9:39 for two miles two weeks ago, will also compete. The current collegiates will still be well-represented with NCAA XC champ Kate Avery of Iona and Providence’s Emily Sisson (who ran 15:21 for 5000 in December, #6 all-time NCAA). Kipyego and Saina should be favored, though it should be noted that this will be Saina’s first race since October.
In terms of NCAA qualifying, 9:09.37 was 16th last year. 16th right now is 9:20.98.
LRC Prediction: Kate Avery has been on fire this year but Kipyego has an Olympic silver on her CV. Kipegyo FTW.
Mel Sheppard Men’s 1000 (6:35 p.m.)
I rarely hear the word eclectic other than when it’s used to describe someone’s taste in music (doesn’t everyone claim to have an eclectic taste in music these days?). Well this is an eclectic 1000-meter field. There’s a high schooler (Myles Marshall, 1:48.43 pb), a Division II runner (Drew Windle, 1:46.54 pb), the two-time defending U.S. outdoor champion at 800 (Duane Solomon) and the Olympic bronze medalist at 1500 (Abdelaati Iguider). There’s also a guy (Erik Sowinski) who ran a 1000 last week (how often do you see a professional run back-to-back 1000s?) and a former NCAA champion (Robby Andrews). Local pros Liam Boylan-Pett and Declan Murray round out the field.
So who do I like? Sowinski ran okay in the 1000 last week in Boston (he was third) but got beat by 1500 guys Matthew Centrowitz and Pat Casey. He’ll likely want to run faster (he was 2:19.12 in Boston) and place higher this week, and his track record indoors suggests that is more than likely (he ran 2:18.63 here last year). Solomon hasn’t raced yet this year but has always performed well indoors; he’s probably the man to beat here. Iguider is the most accomplished guy in the field but his pb is just 2:19.14 and is more of a 1500/5000 type (he’s only run 1:47.14 for 800); this race might be a little short for him.
Several American records could be in jeopardy here. David Torrence’s U.S. mark is 2:16.76. Solomon has run 2:17.84 (outdoors) and Robby Andrews has run 2:17.90 (indoors). But given that this is Solomon’s first race of the season and Andrews’ first real race (he ran a 1:51 800 rust-buster last week where he kept going a little after the finish line as coach Jason Vigilante wanted to him to envision himself having another 200 to go), the record seems unlikely fall.
The U.S. high school mark of 2:22.98 was run by Andrews on this track in 2009, but Marshall struggled in the mile last week in Boston (last in 4:24).
LRC Prediction: US mid-d running gets a lot more interesting if Robby Andrews can win this one, but that’s asking a lot. A strong showing here and he could be in the mix for the U.S. title in two weeks in Boston. We’re uneasy picking Solomon as it’s his opener, but he’s our pick. Sowinski might be the safe bet.
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Paavo Nurmi Men’s 5000 (6:45 p.m.)
The men’s 5000 at this year’s Millrose Games will be a nice 13-minute-long ad for Nike as the shoe company sponsors all 11 runners on the start list (Japanese runner Suguru Osako also competes for the Nissin Foods corporate team but he trains with NOP, is coached by Alberto Salazar and wore a Nike singlet two weeks ago at the Armory Track Invitational). Jerry Schumacher‘s Bowerman Track Club will bring the largest contingent — six runners. BTC is led by Ryan Hill, Lopez Lomong and Andrew Bumbalough — the three American men in the last five years to run the 5000 at a global outdoor championship not named Rupp or Lagat.
The most interesting name — and the favorite — is the NOP’s Cam Levins, who is coming off an incredible 3:54/8:15 double on this same track two weeks ago, defeating more heralded teammate Galen Rupp in the process (Rupp was initially entered in this race but announced last week that he is shutting down his indoor season due to a virus). Levins will race only the 5000 in this meet, which should produce a performance better than either of his marks from two weeks ago. John Kellogg‘s conversion charts value Levins’ 3:54 and 8:15 as worth about 13:24 and 13:13 for 5000, respectively; given that his 8:15 was the superior performance and it came less than 30 minutes after the 3:54, 13:13 should be the baseline for Levins’ expectations on Saturday.
In reality, Levins should be capable of much faster than that. Factor in that he’s two weeks fitter, he’s not doubling back, and is a better 5000/10,000 runner than miler/2-miler. His own Canadian indoor record of 13:19.16 seems destined to go down; his 13:15.19 outdoor best and the Canadian overall record (13:13.96 outdoors by Jeff Schiebler) are good bets to fall too.
On paper, it seems strange to label Levins the favorite, given that he has only the sixth-fastest 5000 PR in the field. Heck, his 13:15.19 is just .12 faster than what Tom Farrell has run in his career and it would be a major upset if Farrell were to win this race. But after Levins’ double two weeks ago, it would be foolish to bet on anyone else. His newfound closing speed — he dropped 2013 World 1500 finalist O’Hare like it was nothing in the mile and came back to close off his 2 mile with a 27.51 final lap — mean that he’ll be a very hard man to beat on the final lap.
The big question about this race is the pacing, and it’s something I’ll do my best to find out about from Levins and meet organizers at the pre-meet press conference on Thursday. Sub-13:10 seems like a reasonable goal for Levins on Saturday, as long as there’s a rabbit and Levins is willing to attack a fast time.
LRC Prediction: Levins wins with a sub-13:10.
Women’s Wanamaker Mile (7:20 p.m.)
|Nicole||Tully||USA||HOKA / NYAC|
Until last week, this race looked likely to be dominated by the women of NOP — Shannon Rowbury, Mary Cain, Treniere Moser and Jordan Hasay. Then Nicole Tully happened. Tully almost anchored her NY All-Stars squad to a win and world record over the Brenda Martinez-anchored New Balance USA squad last week in Boston, only to fall short in the final 50 meters. She won’t have a chance for revenge here (Martinez won’t race again until the Carlsbad 5000 on March 29) but the 28-year-old has a great chance to finish in the top three or four at Millrose and lower her 4:30.65 mile pb set outdoors in 2012 (she split 4:28.14 for 1600 last week).
Tully remains a long shot for the win, but that’s no fault of her own. It’s merely recognition of the fact that Shannon Rowbury is on fire right now. She opened up her indoor season with a 2:40/4:27 1k/mile double, beating teammates Hasay and Moser — who have both raced well in recent weeks — in both races. In her second race, two weeks ago at the Camel City Elite races in Winston-Salem, N.C., Rowbury became the fifth-fastest indoor miler ever, busting out a 4:22.66 on a flat track. Using the NCAA’s conversion chart, that equates to a 4:20.09 on a banked track, a time that would give Rowbury the American record and move her up to #3 all-time indoors. There’s no doubt that Rowbury, who LRC ranked as the #7 1500/mile runner in the world last year, is the class of the field. Any win at Millrose is special, but for Rowbury, victory is almost an afterthought. Her mind should be on the clock. Can she become the first woman in 25 years to break 4:20 indoors?
The real race should be for second, and it should be a great one. Tully will be in the thick of it, as will Moser, who has looked great at the shorter distances the last two weeks, almost beating 2014 world leader Ajee Wilson in the 800 and winning the 1000 in Boston last weekend (2:37.86). The 1500/mile has always been Moser’s specialty, so we could see an even better performance from her here. Likewise, her teammate Cain is much more at home in the mile than the 800 or 1000 (events in which she lost to Moser the last two weeks). After dealing with sickness prior to her first two trips east this season, expect Cain, the defending champion, to post her best performance of the season on Saturday. Hasay, the final NOP runner in this race, looked great winning the 2-mile on this track two weeks ago (62.40 final 400) and though she’s become more distance-oriented as a pro, she is a former NCAA mile champ. Her 4:28.37 pb from last year is definitely in jeopardy.
Finally, we might see a new collegiate leading in this race. Reigning NCAA 1500 champ Shelby Houlihan will run her first mile of the season, while the other collegian in the race, Iona’s Rosie Clarke, sits fourth on the NCAA list with her 4:35.01 in Boston two weeks ago. The NCAA leader is North Dakota State’s Erin Teschuk (4:32.09 converted from 4:34.78 on a flat track); the winner in this race should go well under 4:30, so it’s just a matter of Houlihan and Clarke tucking in and seeing if they can hold on.
LRC Predictions: Rowbury wins in a new American record, Moser gets second and we get a new collegiate leader. We’ll be paying close attention to Mary Cain, however. Her times so far this year haven’t been impressive by her lofty standards and there are no excuses here as she’s race-ready and running the distance she’s best at.
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EmblemHealth Women’s 800 (7:35 p.m. ET)
Two-time defending U.S. Indoor champion Ajee Wilson is the comfortable favorite in this race; most of the drama centers around which strategy she will use. Two weeks ago in New York, she waited until 100 meters to go to move to the front before winning in 2:01.63. Races like this, especially on the tight turns of an indoor track, can help superior runners like Wilson become tactically sharp before the important races begin outdoors. But for the same reason, it also makes Wilson vulnerable. Charlene Lipsey ran a solid 2:02.20 for third behind Wilson two weeks ago at the Armory Track Invitational and Latavia Thomas ran the 800 leg on the NY All-Stars team that came up just short of the DMR world record last week. On paper, neither of them should beat Wilson, but in a race this short indoors, one tactical misstep is all it could take for Wilson to lose.
LRC Prediction: Wilson is amazing. No way we’re not picking her.
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