2015 Payton Jordan Men’s Preview: Action Galore – True vs. Mead II, The Return of Nick Symmonds, and a Sub-4 HSer?

By LetsRun.com
May 1, 2015

Saturday, May 2, will be one of the best days on the 2015 sporting calendar. In addition to the 141st Kentucky Derby, the much-anticipated Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Manny Pacquiao boxing match and a Game 7 in the epic first-round Spurs-Clippers series, there’s also day one of the World Relays and the vaunted Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford. Stock the fridges and prepare the guacamole because after about 6 p.m. ET, you shouldn’t be anywhere but on your couch (or at a bar) or at one of the events live.

We already ran through the distance events at the World Relays (men’s DMR; men’s 4×800; women’s DMR; women’s 800) but there are also several sprint races worth watching, including the men’s 4×100 and 4×200, which should serve as the first two installments of the Usain BoltJustin Gatlin rivalry in 2015. Track fans can watch the World Relays (live on Universal Sports from 7-10 p.m. ET) and Payton Jordan (pay per view membership on Flotrack) as the best races at Payton Jordan don’t start until after 10 p.m. ET. Now boxing fans, you will have to decide as Stanford and Mayweather-Pacquiao overlap. If you don’t get a recap of Stanford until middle of the day Sunday, we apologize. Some of the staff will be enjoying the post-race activities in the Bahamas, others may be watching the boxing, and Stanford is a little down this year.

We run through the marquee men’s races and tell you what to watch for at Stanford below. Our separate women’s preview is here.

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Final schedule * Heat sheets (track events) * Heat sheets (field events) *All LRC coverage

Men’s 3000 steeplechase (Section 1 at 9:01 p.m. ET)
IAAF World Championships standard: 8:28.00
Athletes entered with standard: none

Section 1  Timed Finals
  1  Dan Huling                       Nike Btc                    
  2  Noureddine Smail                American Dis                
  3  Haron Lagat                      Nike                        
  4  Stanley Kebenei                  Arkansas                    
  5  Jose Pena                        Venezuela                   
  6  Taylor Milne                     Speed River                 
  7  Patrick Nasti                    Fiamme Giall                
  8  Chris Winter                     Speed River                 
  9  Aoi Matsumoto                    Otsuka T&F                  
 10  Hillary Bor                      ADP                         
 11  Tabor Stevens                    Adams State                 
 12  Ole Hesselbjerg                  Eastern Kent                
 13  Zak Seddon                       Florida Stat                
 14  Ben Bruce                        Hoka Naz Eli                
 15  Matt Cleaver                     Adidas/Rogue

2010 USA champion and 2014 runner-up Dan Huling leads the entrants as his 8:15.61 from last year is the fastest of anyone in this field from 2014 (Haron Lagat was second at 8:19.00). There’s a nice D-I vs. D-II clash between Stanley Kebenei of Arkansas (2014 D-I runner-up, 8:24.45 pb) and Tabor Stevens of Adams State (2013/2014 D-II champ, 8:32.50 pb).

Men’s 800 (Section 1 at 9:25 p.m. ET)
IAAF World Championships standard: 1:46.00
Athletes entered with standard: Shaquille Walker

Section 1  Timed Finals
  3  Luke Lefebure                    Stanford                    
  4  Mark Wieczorek                   Brooks Beast                
  5  Boris Berian                     Big Bear TC                 
  6  Shaquille Walker                 BYU                         
  7  Edward Kemboi                    Iowa State                  
  8  Mac Fleet                        Nike Otc                    
  9  Brannon Kidder                   Penn State                  
 10  Andrew Wheating                  Nike Otc

This should be a great matchup between Walker, the NCAA leader at 1:45.78, and Kemboi, the NCAA indoor champion at 800 meters. This race wasn’t particularly fast last year (Cas Loxsom beat Kemboi, 1:48.38-1:48.47) but slow races at Stanford are the exception. This will be Kemboi’s first 800 of his outdoor season and since he opened with a 1:46.14 in 2014 and is in even better shape this year, expect a quick time.

Among the professionals, Mark Wieczorek of the Brooks Beasts (second in the 600 at USA indoors) and the OTC’s Mac Fleet and Andrew Wheating are the names to watch. Fleet didn’t run an indoor season, but he opened up with a solid 3:40.52 1500 win at the Oregon Relays two weeks ago so he appears to be in shape. Wheating ran 3:38.75 oudoors in Sydney on March 14 but it remains to be seen whether he’ll start this race. He was entered in the World Relays but withdrew due an infected blister; does that mean he’s out of Payton Jordan too? (Fleet is also entered at World Relays but we believe he will race here)

Men’s 1500 (Section 1 at 10:46 p.m. ET)
IAAF World Championships standard: 3:36.20
Athletes entered with standard: none

Section 1  Timed Finals
  1  Lawi Lalang                      Global Sport                
  2  Nathan Brannen                   Saucony                     
  3  Andy Bayer                       Bowerman TC                 
  4  Craig Miller                     Unattached                  
  5  Evan Jager                       Nike                        
  6  Jack Bolas                       New Jersey-N                
  7  Ford Palmer                      Hoka One One                
  8  Mike Atchoo                      Strava TC                   
  9  Oliver Aitchison                 Adams State                 
 10  Cristian Soratos                 Montana Stat                
 11  Ryan Hill                        Nike Btc 

Section 2  Timed Finals
  1  Nick Symmonds                    Brooks Beast                
  2  Dorian Ulrey                     Brooks Beast                
  3  Julian Matthews                  Unattached                  
  4  German Fernandez                 Nike                        
  5  Dylan Ferris                     Strava TC                   
  6  Michael Hammond                  VT Elite                    
  7  Graham Crawford                  North Caroli                
  8  Robby Creese                     Penn State                  
  9  Kirubel Erassa                   Oklahoma Sta                
 10  Daniel Winn                      Oregon                      
 11  Cole Williams                    Georgetown                  
 12  Amos Bartelsmeyer                Georgetown
Section 3  Timed Finals
  1  Tamas Kazi                       Santa Monica TC             
  2  Hamish Carson                    New Zealand                 
  3  Peter Callahan                   New Mexico                  
  4  Chad Noelle                      Oklahoma Sta                
  5  Jake Hurysz                      Colorado                    
  6  Ben Saarel                       Colorado                    
  7  Grant Fisher                     Unattached                  
  8  Justin Brinkley                  Stanford                    
  9  Patrick Joseph                   Virginia Tec                
 10  Thomas Coyle                     Stanford                    
 11  Charles Philibert-Thiboutot      Universite L                
 12  Blake Haney                      Oregon

There are seven sections of the men’s 1500, and the top three are the mostnintriguing. Section 1 (10:46 p.m. ET) is loaded with 3:33 man Lawi Lalang of Kenya and two-time Canadian Olympian Nate Brannen leading the way. There are also outdoor debuts for Bowerman TC teammates Evan Jager (three-time defending U.S. steeple champ) and Ryan Hill (USA indoor 2-mile champ) and Andy Bayer (2012 NCAA 1500 champ) as well as Ford Palmer (5th at USAs in the 1500 last year). Collegians Oliver Aitchison of Adams State and Cristian Soratos of Montana State will wage a battle of the divisions. Aitchison won the D-II indoor mile and is the D-II outdoor leader at 3:40.77; Soratos was the D-I indoor runner-up and is third on the D-I outdoor list with an altitude-adjusted 3:44.24 (which the NCAA converts to a 3:39.65 at sea level).

2014 World Indoors: Symmonds' last major race Symmonds’ last major race: 2014 World Indoors

2013 World 800 silver medalist Nick Symmonds is the big name in section 2 (10:40 p.m. ET). There has been talk that Symmonds will be focusing on the 1500 this year and Stanford represents his first major test since his 2014 season ended at World Indoors. His three races since then have been a road 800, a beer mile and indoor 3000, so this will give us a much better indication of whether he’s capable of mixing it up in a top-level 1500. Symmonds’ pb (3:34.55 from 2013) says that he should have a shot to make the U.S. team at 1500 (should he attempt it) especially since that came while he was focused on the 800. However, it’s been over a year since Symmonds ran a serious race, during which time in addition to battling injury, he wrote a book, launched a running gum company, ran in a beer mile and participated in America Ninja Warrior.

Is he prepared to run fast on Saturday? Is he still serious about being one of the World’s best?  Time will tell. Section 2 has some solid competition, but if Symmonds is serious about making Worlds as a 1500 runner, he’ll need to win this race or come close to it. Anything else and he should seriously considering moving back to the 800, where he’s consistently ranked among the top two in the U.S. for the past 10 years. The 1500 team is going to be brutal to make this year, and while it’s not a cakewalk to make it onto the 800 team, a fit, healthy Symmonds should grab an 800 spot unless age has started to catch up to him (he’s 31). Symmonds’ race at Stanford should tell us a lot.

Section 3 (8:15 p.m. ET) should also be very exciting. High schooler Grant Fisher (two-time Foot Locker champ, 4:02.02 mile pb), will be looking for a sub-4:00 equivalent (roughly 3:42.2) and to run faster than Matthew Maton‘s 3:42.54 high school leader from the Oregon Relays two weeks ago. With college studs Peter Callahan (New Mexico), Chad Noelle (Oklahoma State), Jake Hurysz (Colorado) and Ben Saarel (Colorado) all in the field, the race should be fast enough; the only question is whether Fisher (who ran 3:46.15 in a college race last week where the winner was 3:44.51) has the wheels to do it.

We have a proposal for the meet directors: make section 3 a mile, not a 1500.

It doesn’t affect anyone for qualifying purposes (both the NCAA and IAAF allow mile conversions for the 1500) and it would be great publicity for Stanford. Fisher will be attending Stanford in the fall. How great would it be if the jewel of its recruiting class, one of the greatest high school runners of all-time, becomes just the sixth high schooler to break 4:00 and does it on his future home track? That’s a great story, and it would be a race that people will be talking about years from now. Fisher would generate a ton more excitement for running 3:59.8 as opposed to 3:42.0, even though they’re basically equivalent. This race should be a mile; it’s a no-brainer.

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Men’s 5000 (Section 1 at 11:50 p.m. ET)
IAAF World Championships standard: 13:23.00
Athletes entered with standard: none

Section 1  Timed Finals
  1  Lopez Lomong                     Nike                        
  2  Juan Luis Barrios                NIKE                        
  3  Elroy Gelant                     Global Sport                
  4  Tom Farrell                      Nike Otc Eli                
  5  Diego Estrada                    Asics                       
  6  David Torrence                   Hoka One One                
  7  Garrett Heath                    Brooks Beast                
  8  Paul Chelimo                     WCAP                        
  9  Will Leer                        NIKE                        
 10  Trevor Dunbar                    NIKE                        
 11  Matt Hughes                      NIKE                        
 12  Jeff See                         Furman Elite                
 13  Dennis Licht                     Unattached                  
 14  Henrik Ingebrigtsen              Norway                      
 15  Kemoy Campbell                   Arkansas                    
 16  Luc Bruchet                      Point Grey T                
 17  Craig Forys                      Nyac/ Furman                
 18  Jonathan Peterson                Team Usa MN                 
 19  Riley Masters                    Brooks Beast

This is one of the marquee events of the meet and since no one in the field has the World Championships standard of 13:23.00, it’s going to be fast(er than that). This race is fascinating because it contains guys who’ve run well at every distance from 800 to the half marathon.

Lomong edged teammate Ryan Hill in a slow (yet thrilling) 5,000 at Millrose Lomong edged teammate Ryan Hill in a slow (yet thrilling) 5,000 at Millrose

Last year, this race produced a thrilling finish and some terrific times as Ben True nipped Hassan Mead at the line, 13:02.74 to 13:02.80. We’d be surprised if the race went that fast this year, but there is enough talent here to see a finishing time in the 13:00s. Lomong (13:07 pb) has traditionally run well at Stanford, even considering his problems with the lap-counter three years ago and he won the major 5000 on the U.S. indoor circuit at Millrose in February. A strong kicker with the best pb in the field, Lomong is the favorite.

Beyond him, it’s anyone’s guess. Juan Luis Barrios (60:46 half marathon in February, 3rd at NYC Half in March, won 10,000 at first Stanford meet in 28:12) and Diego Estrada (60:51 half in January, won Mt. SAC 5,000 in 13:31) come in from a strength background and have been running well in 2015. David Torrence, Will Leer and Garrett Heath are more commonly associated with the 1500, but all have run fast 5000s in the past (13:16 for Torrence and Heath; 13:21 for Leer). Riley Masters is another 1500/mile-type that will be looking to lower his 5,000 pb (13:39).

Thomas FarrellTrevor Dunbar and Kemoy Campbell (runner-up in NCAA indoor 5,000) are pure 5,000 runners; will Campbell (pb: 13:32) be able to take down Sam Stabler‘s NCAA leader of 13:30.50?

Finally, there are a pair of interesting foreign names in Canadian Matt Hughes (sixth at 2013 Worlds in the steeple) and Norwegian Henrik Ingebrigtsen (8th at 2013 Worlds in the 1500; 5th in the 2012 Olympics). Ingebrigtsen’s pb is 14:19.39. Could he knock a minute off of that time?

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Kim McDonald Memorial Men’s 10,000 (Section 1 at 12:45 a.m)
IAAF World Championships standard: 27:45.00
Athletes entered with standard: Shadrack Kipchirchir, Bashir Abdi
IAAF Olympic standard: 28:00.00
Athletes entered with standard: none

Section 1  Timed Finals
  1  Tsegay Tuemay                    Posso Sports                
  2  Bobby Curtis                     Hansons-Broo                
  3  Ben St Lawrence                  Melbourne Tr                
  4  Mo Ahmed                         NikeBTC/Cana                
  5  shadrack Kipchirchir             WCAP                        
  6  Bashir Abdi                      Nike                        
  7  Kassa Mekashaw                   Yachiyo Kogy                
  8  Ben True                         Saucony                     
  9  Ryan Vail                        Brooks                      
 10  Jake Robertson                   Athletics Ne                
 11  Jonathan Grey                    Team Usa MN                 
 12  Sean Quigley                     Boulder Trac                
 13  Andy Vernon                      Melbourne Tr                
 14  Arne Gabius                      NIKE                        
 15  Hassan Mead                      Nike Otc                    
 16  Christo Landry                   Mizuno                      
 17  Tyler Pennel                     Zap Fitness/                
 18  David McNeill                    Melbourne Tr                
 19  Aron Rono                        WCAP                        
 20  Tsegaye Getachew                 Unattached                  
 21  Jake Riley                       Hansons-Broo                
 22  Brendan Gregg                    Hansons-Broo                
 23  Brian Shrader                    Saucony                     
 24  Parker Stinson                   Saucony                     
 25  Jason Witt                       BYU                         
 26  Afewerki Berhane Hidru           Posso Sports                
 27  Samsom Grebreyohannes            Posso Sports

As one of the few world-class 10,000s on the international calendar, this race has attracted quality athletes from around the globe with the goal of attaining the IAAF World Championships standard of 27:45.00. Six men hit that mark last year in this race (there were no Worlds, but times from that race can still be used to qualify this year, thus why Abdi and Kipchirchir already have the standard); Abdi is the top returner from 2014 as he was third in 27:36.  The Olympic qualifying period for the 10,000 is also open, and that standard is slightly more relaxed at 28:00.00.

Can Hasan Mead Get Under 13:00 in 2015? Remember this?

One intriguing storyline is a rematch between Ben True and Hassan Mead after they delighted the Stanford crowd in the 5,000 last year. Both have proven stronger 5,000 runners than 10,000 runners, but based on their recent success, both should be capable of time in the low 27-minute range if everything goes according to plan. True and Mead both own personal bests of 13:02 in the 5,000, which is equivalent to 27:11 according to John Kellogg‘s conversion chart. Perhaps they run slightly slower than that since that assumes both runners are equally good at the 5,000 and 10,000. True has admitted he’s struggled with the 10,000 in the past (27:41 pb) and Mead hasn’t run one since 2012; this is his first as a pro. Or perhaps they run slightly faster since True is in phenomenal shape after breaking the American road 5k record (13:22) two weeks ago in Boston (Mead’s only race in 2015 was a 7:48 for 3rd in the 3,000 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on February 7). Regardless, it should be interesting to see what those two plus top Americans Bobby CurtisRyan Vail (3rd at USAs in the 10,000 last year) and others are capable of. BYU’s Jason Witt is the lone collegian in the field. He ran 28:36 last year and if he can hold on, he could be dragged to a time faster than Martin Hehir‘s NCAA leader of 28:27.70.

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