By Jonathan Gault
June 4, 2015
*Discuss this meet in our forum: ROBBY ANDREWS IS BACK, BABY!! Crushes the field at the 2015 Adrian Martinez Classic.
CONCORD, Mass. — It was a near-perfect night for distance running at Emerson Playground tonight and several top pros took advantage of the conditions to get USATF qualifiers at the 2015 Adrian Martinez Classic as the national championships draw near. In particular, it was a good night for Massachusetts native Abbey D’Agostino, who convincingly won the 5,000 in 15:23.66 and Robby Andrews, who blew the field away in the final 100 meters in the showcase Adro Mile, winning in 3:57.15. The most exciting race of the night may, however, was the women’s Adro Mile, as Nicole Tully outkicked former Oklahoma Baptist runner Hannah Fields to win a tight race in 4:31.4.
In the men’s 800, Ryan Martin nipped Mike Rutt at the line, 1:46.74 to 1:46.78. Former Wisconsin star Reed Connor kicked hard to win the men’s 5,000 in 13:34.68, and Alexa Efraimson‘s training partner McKayla Fricker picked up a win in the women’s 800 in 2:03.57.
Results, interviews and quick takes below.
Men’s 800: Martin Edges Rutt
1 Willig, Ned Unattached 1:48.08 PR 1
2 Mutekanga, Julius CPTC New Balance/Uganda 1:49.29 1
3 Minors, Dage Bermuda 1:50.14 PR 1
4 Donnelly, Jordan Puma 1:50.39 1
5 Bilbrew, Christopher Unattached 1:51.18 1
6 Gioielli, Joe Unattached 1:51.52 1
7 Engel, Alexander Unattached 1:52.44 1
8 O’Toole, Garrett Unattached 1:53.26 1
— Bruno, Nate Unattached DNF 1
1 Martin, Ryan Asics 1:46.74 2
2 Rutt, Mike Hoka One One 1:46.78 2
3 Murray, Declan NJNY TC 1:47.28 2
4 Evans, Aaron Team Run Eugene/Bermuda 1:47.37 2
5 Husted, Mark Brooks ID 1:47.92 2
6 Gilreath, James Adidas Team Green 1:47.98 2
7 Merber, Kyle Hoka One One/NJNY TC 1:48.81 2
8 Mulder, Tyler Nike OTC Eliite 1:49.26 2
9 Momoh, Leoman Adidas Team Green/Nigeria 1:54.02 2
— Booth, Ryan Unattached DNF 2
On paper, Martin and Rutt were the top two guys in the field, so it was no surprise to see the top heat come down to a kick between the two of them. At the bell (52.0), Martin led James Gilreath and with 200 to go, those two were part of a group of five (including Rutt) still in contention. Martin still led into the home stretch and as they sprinted toward the line, he and Rutt began to gap the rest of the field. Martin didn’t look back to gauge his position but could feel Rutt coming up on his outside so gave it all he had and hoped that it was enough.
It was, as he narrowly held Rutt off by .04 of a second to take the win here after finishing second in 2014. America’s fastest 1500 man for 2015, Kyle Merber, was just 8th in 1:48.81.
Quick Take #1: Ryan Martin feels good about his chances in what should be a wide-open 800 field at USAs
“I think my chances are pretty good,” said Martin who was 4th at the 2012 Olympic Trials but has never made a US team for Worlds/Olympics. “I’m feeling pretty confident about my training. We just had a really hard week this past week. Today was just all about competing, not so much about time and I think I did that pretty well today.”
Martin said he may do some pacing at next week’s New York Diamond League meet but he’s not 100% sure about that.
Quick Take #2: Kyle Merber says his 3:34 wasn’t a surprise and that making the Worlds team in 2015 was always the goal.
Merber ran 3:34.54 at Furman on Saturday, the fastest time by an American this year and said that he had been on cloud nine the last few days after that race. Though he was training through this meet (coach Frank Gagliano referred to it as an “exhibition”), Merber said that it was good to get back to racing again as he’s no longer dwelling on his 3:34 and now looking ahead to USAs.
Even though his race wasn’t great tonight (he ran 1:48.81 but was able to make up some ground after running in dead-last early in the race), Merber spoke confidently about his current fitness, noting that his 3:34 didn’t come as a surprise as he has been healthy for over a year and had the best 400 workout of his life the week before.
Now everything is geared toward USAs, where Merber will look to make his first World Championships team.
“In my head this year was always the year that I was going to be in the running to make it,” Merber said.
Women’s 800: McKayla Fricker continues successful season
1 Praska, Bethany Unattached 2:04.76 1
2 Chambers, Kendra Unattached 2:04.85 1
3 Peters, Celia Halifast/Canada 2:05.67 1
4 Carlin, Jesse Pacers/New Balance 2:06.16 1
5 Feldman, Greta Nike/NJNY TC 2:07.69 1
6 Fagade, Titi CPTC New Balance/Nigeria 2:08.10 1
7 Katz, Sarah U of Toronto/Canada 2:09.74 1
8 McKenzie, Lorain Jamaica 2:09.99 1
1 Fricker, McKayla Unattached 2:03.57 2
2 Charnigo, Stephanie Saucony/NJNY TC 2:04.20 2
3 Krumpoch, Megan New Balance 2:04.29 2
4 Lagat, Violah Adidas/Kenya 2:04.42 2
5 Gollish, Sasha U of Toronto/Canada 2:04.53 2
6 King, Caroline Puma 2:05.44 2
7 Addison, Rebecca Unattached 2:05.67 2
8 Herrick, Stephanie CPTC New Balance 2:14.02 2
9 Martynova, Svetlana U of Toronto/Russia 2:16.51 2
— Connor, Anna Unattached DNF 2
Fricker, who trains with Alexa Efraimson, PR’d by a second and a half at Pre last weekend (2:01.64) and ran well again tonight, taking heat two of the 800 convincingly in 2:03.57.
Quick Take #1: Fricker is in a good place right now with Efraimson and coach Mike Hickey
Fricker, a 2014 grad of D-II Seattle Pacific, said that training is going very well for the two runners right now and that they’d like to expand the group at some point.
Men’s Mile: Robby Andrews destroys the field over the final 100
1 Randon, James Unattached 4:00.43 PR 1
2 Peterson, Jonathan Team USA Minnesota 4:00.85 1
3 Alex, George Zap Fitness/Reebok 4:01.52 PR* 1
4 Sterling, Henry New England Distance Project 4:03.33 PR 1
5 Thibeault, Antoine Zenix de la Mauricie 4:03.36 PR* 1
6 Shelley, Jake Great Britain 4:05.42 PR 1
7 Saad, Julian Boston A. A. 4:06.00 PR* 1
8 Dawson, Owen Bryn Mawr/New Balance 4:07.19 1
9 Reher, Michael Boston A. A. 4:07.78 PR 1
10 Cooper, Kevin New Balance Boston/Ireland 4:09.72 1
11 Chorney, David Boston A. A. 4:14.63 1
12 Fullerton, Pat New Balance 4:18.71 1
1 Andrews, Robby Adidas 3:57.15 PR 2 Meet Record
2 Palmer, Ford Hoka One One/NJNY TC 3:58.42 2
3 Emanuel, Lee Hoka One One/ Great Britain 3:58.60 2
4 Matthews, Julian New Zealand 3:58.71 PR* 2
5 Oakley, Julian New Zealand 4:00.23 2
6 Clowes, Matt Great Britain 4:00.64 PR* 2
7 Jordanek, Tony Brooks 4:01.06 2
8 Mahoney, Travis NJNY TC 4:01.12 2
9 McNeill, David New Balance Australia 4:01.13 2
10 Buchanan, Reid Unattached 4:01.57 PR* 2
11 Mangan, Steve Boston A. A. 4:03.07 2
12 Avila, Eric Hoka One One 4:04.66 2
13 Miller, Craig Unattached 4:10.18 2
— Waite, Ryan Unattached DNF 2
The fast heat went out in 60.2 seconds for the first 409, with Brooks’ Tony Jordanek sitting behind the rabbit and Andrews behind Jordanek. The pace remained decent but not terribly fast through the halfway mark at 2:00.6, and when the rabbit dropped out at 1000 meters, Australia’s David McNeill went to the front to try to keep the pace rolling.
However, lap three wound up being the slowest of the race (60.6) and most of the field was still together at the bell (3:01.2) behind McNeill. Andrews had dropped back to the middle of the pack, but on the backstretch he began to move up and position himself for the final kick.
Things really started to pick up on the final turn as former Providence runner Julian Matthews took the lead, and he held it for most of the final turn with Andrews, Ford Palmer and Lee Emanuel in pursuit. As they hit the top of the stretch, Andrews swung wide into the lead and started to accelerate rapidly. In a matter of seconds, it was over as he quickly gapped the field and cruised to the win in 3:57.15. Palmer held off Emanuel for second in 3:58.42.
Quick Take #1: This race played right into Andrews’ hands
When I caught up with Andrews after the race, I told him that this was pretty much his ideal race scenario — a relatively slow pace that he could kick off at the end. “Thank you,” Andrews responded politely, before adding that since this was his first race since World Relays on May 2, he “wanted to be as conservative as possible.”
Andrews ran near the front for the first two laps, but fell back a little on lap three and the start of lap four as he didn’t want to assert himself too early. But, as we’ve seen so many times before, when Andrews went, he went hard and no one could match his 1:44 800 speed.
Quick Take #2: Andrews hasn’t made a decision about what to run at USAs — but he might not have a choice
As far as the big question for Andrews — 800 or 1500 at USAs — he said he’s running the New York Diamond League 800 next weekend and after that, he’ll evaluate his performances and make a decision. When I spoke to him after USA indoors, Andrews seemed to be leaning more toward the 1500 but now it appears he’s not as sure.
One reason for that might be because Andrews doesn’t have the 1500 standard for USAs (3:39.00 of 3:56.50). Andrews has already met the USA standard in the 800 (1:47.50); if he doesn’t make the cut in the 1500, he might have to run the 800 by default.
(Editor’s addition: If that’s the case, that’s a total joke. As good as Andrews has been running this year, he should be able to pick whatever event he wants to run. We’re not sure if there is a petition process (Email us if you know – LetsRun.com co-founder Weldon Johnson got into USAs in 2003 when he was 4th in the 10,000 without a qualifying time on petition) but assume there is and Andrews is the poster-boy for a wild-card for the following reasons.
1) He represented the US this year at the World Relays which is obviously a time he could have chased a time
2) His heat at the Hoka One One Classic was cancelled by USATF due to weather. After that, he had two options. Discard his planned out training and find another race or go back into a 2-week hard training block? Andrews stuck to his plan.
Given his past credentials and the fact that USATF cancelled the meet, Andrews should be able to run whichever event he wants at USAs. It will be an interesting decision for as good as Andrews looked tonight, looking good in a 3:58 race isn’t the same as a 3:53 one.)
Women’s Mile: Nicole Tully kicks best in an incredibly close race
1 Tully, Nicole Hoka One One/NYAC 4:31.4h* WL
2 Fields, Hannah Unattached 4:31.4h PR
3 Schneider, Rachel Under Armour 4:31.8h PR*
4 Eccleston, Amanda Unattached 4:32.0h
5 McGee, Cory New Balance 4:32.1h =PR
6 Lipari, Emily Boston A. A. 4:32.4h PR
7 LaCaze, Genevieve New Balance/Australia 4:32.6h
8 Wilson, Heather Unattached 4:32.7h PR
8 Mecke, Dana Unattached 4:32.7h PR
10 Stafford, Gabriela U of Toronto/Canada 4:32.8h PR
11 Mergaert, Amanda Brooks Beasts TC 4:34.9h PR
12 Legg-Howell, Kirsty Strava TC/Brooks/GB 4:35.1h PR
13 Williams, Alisha Adidas 4:35.5h PR
14 Bush, Nicole New Balance 4:36.5h
15 Beck, Anne Strava TC 4:38.6h PR
16 Schultz, Amber Unattached 4:40.1h PR
17 Koch, Erin CPTC New Balance 4:52.9h
— Connor, Anna Unattached DNF
The field chose not to go with the rabbit in this one, passing through 409 in 67.8 and 809 in a pedestrian 2:18.3, with Rachel Schneider — still training at her alma mater, Georgetown — leading Fields and a big pack. The clock read 3:27.8 at the bell and most of the large 17-woman field was still in contention at that point, with Schneider leading and Tully sitting on her shoulder.
There was a lot of bumping on the backstretch on the final lap as runners jockeyed for position but Schneider held onto the lead as New Balance’s Cory McGee came up to challenge her on the outside. Those two battled over the final turn and it looked like one of them would might pull away for the win, but this race was far from over. McGee, Schneider and almost half the field was still in contention in the final 100, but in the end it came down to Fields and Tully (who had to move out to lane 4), who gained a slight gap over the final 30 meters. Tully had just enough in the end, just edging Fields as spots 3-10 were separated by just one second.
Quick Take #1: Nicole Tully is still deciding between the 1500 and the 5,000 at USAs
Tully, speaking in front of a Hoka One One backdrop bearing her image, always thought of herself as a 1500 runner until this year, but after running 15:05 in her first-ever 5,000 at Payton Jordan, she’s now debating which event to run at USAs. Tonight was another successful run in what has been a terrific year for the 28-year-old. When asked about the reasons for her success this season, Tully referenced two things common to runners enjoying breakout years — consistency in her training, and a better rapport with her coach, Frank Gagliano, with whom she now feels comfortable “going back and forth [with] to develop the right kind of training and racing strategy.”
Quick Take #2: Former NAIA runner Hannah Fields has untapped potential
Fields, who is now professional but was still running in her Oklahoma Baptist uniform (she’s currently looking for a training group), acquitted herself very nicely in her pro debut, just falling short at the line to place second. Still, she ran 4:31.4 (previous PR: 4:37.26) and continued what has been a stellar year.
Prior to 2015, she had never broken 4:24 in the 1500, but she’s since topped that mark five times, including a PR of 4:13.26 at Payton Jordan. Fields won the mile and 3k at the NAIA indoor championships and pulled off the 800/1500 double at the NAIA outdoor championships last month. Now she’s looking for a pro group and considering the progress she’s made this year, she should find someone to bite.
Fields said that she chose to run at Oklahoma Baptist because she was afraid of failing at the NCAA level, but now that she’s had some success she’s really starting to love the sport and is willing to commit to it 100%.
Men’s 5,000: Reed Connor uses big kick to win in 13:34.68
1 Connor, Reed NJNY TC 13:34.68 PR Meet Record
2 Springer, Andrew NJNY TC 13:35.99 PR
3 Spisak, Jim Pittsburgh TC 13:36.20 PR
4 Ritchie, Timothy Saucony 13:38.02 PR
5 Lowry, Dan Boston A. A. 13:39.52
6 Esparza, Jose Juan Mexico 13:44.12
7 Zarda, Zach Unattached 13:44.96 PR
8 Jamieson, Carlos Pacers/New Balance 13:50.23 PR
9 Darling, Maverick Saucony 13:50.66
10 LeBlanc, Jarrett Adidas Team Green 14:09.40 PR
— Hillery, Liam Unattached DNF
The field hit 4:21 behind rabbit Ethan Shaw at 1600 meters and after he dropped out, Mexico’s Jose Juan Esparza helped push the pace with the field hitting the mile-to-go mark at 9:18. The pace gradually increased, with Esparza running a 67, then a 66, before Jim Spisak took the lead with 500 to go with a 65-second penultimate lap.
As they headed into the final turn, five men were still in it — Spisak, Connor, BC grad Tim Ritchie, Georgetown grad Andrew Springer and Brown grad Dan Lowry — but there was no doubt who was best over the final 200 of this race. Midway through the curve, Connor unleashed a savage kick and created a big gap, winning handily in 13:34.68 (4:16 final mile). Springer held on for second in 13:35.99.
Quick Take #1: Connor has really benefited from training with the strong milers of NJ*NY TC
Connor was hoping to run the USA standard of 13:32.00 but when the pace slowed mid-race, he didn’t think that was attainable. Gags told him if the race went slow that he should just focus on getting the win, and that’s what Connor did, lying low until he felt he could make a winning move. Perhaps Connor could have gotten the standard by pushing mid-race, but 13:34 should still get him into USAs. He’s 10th on the U.S. list this year and though he might get bumped back a bit in the order (times from June 26, 2014 onwards can be used to qualify), 24 men make it so he has a good shot.
Connor is one of the few true distance guys in the NJ*NY stable, but Connor feels that training with so many talented mid-d guys has really benefited him as he has to be at his best to keep up with them in practice. Even so, he knows he can’t hit the really fast stuff with guys like Kyle Merber and Ford Palmer so on those days he seeks refuge with steepler Donn Cabral.
Women’s 5,000: Abbey D’Agostino looks like her old self with commanding 15:23.66 win
1 D’Agostino, Abbey New Balance 15:23.66 Meet Record
2 Linden, Desiree Hansons Brooks 15:27.13
3 Cullen, Mary Brooks/Ireland 15:29.99
4 Matthews, Katie Boston A. A. 15:32.89 PR
5 Flores, Brenda Mexico 15:35.77
6 Ward, Rachel Ragged Mount Running 15:36.84 PR
7 Cliff, Rachel Vancouver T’birds/Canada 15:37.90
8 Gregg Goodman, Kaitlin Strava TC/Brooks 15:39.27 PR
9 Pagano, Sarah Boston A. A. 15:40.66 PR
10 Costello, Liz New Balance 15:43.92
11 Cridebring, Alycia New Balance NorCa 15:47.53 PR
12 Melian, Christina Unattached 15:48.13 PR
13 Peyton, Meghan Team USA MN/Saucony 15:56.12
14 Van Alstine, Amy Hoka One One NAZ Elite 15:58.59
15 Sorna, Rachel New Balance Boston 16:01.05
16 Crouch, Sarah Zap Fitness/Reebok 16:01.99
17 Goethals, Megan Hansons Brooks 16:06.80
18 Swisher, Kristin Saucony 16:28.31
19 Mitchell, Rachel New Balance NorCa 16:35.87
20 Suda, Betsy Florida TC 17:09.76
— Tully, Nicole Hoka One One/NYAC DNF
As in the men’s race, the goal in the women’s race was to hit the USATF standard of 15:26.00, and D’Agostino did that, moving to the front at 3,000 meters and pushing the pace over the final five laps to record her fastest time since 2013, when she ran 15:11.35 at Mt. SAC. Those two races are actually quite similar (though tonight was obviously slower) as D’Agostino was looking to get the World Championship standard at Mt. SAC and had to do most of the work from the front when no one else was willing to attack the time. Tonight, D’Agostino benefited from a couple of rabbits in the early going but led the race from 3k onwards.
With three laps to go, the pack was down to D’Agostino, former Providence runner Mary Cullen, the B.A.A.’s Katie Matthews and Desi Linden, running her first race since taking fourth in the Boston Marathon in April. D’Agostino ran a 73 to drop Matthews and Linden and after a 71, she had a lead of 15+ meters at the bell. Though Linden closed well over the final 400, passing Cullen for second, D’Agostino was clearly best, closing it off with a 68 to win in 15:23.66. Linden was second in 15:27.13 (her best time since 2011) while Cullen was third in 15:29.99 (her best time since 2013).
Quick Take #1: This was a very good sign for D’Agostino
D’Agostino battled a stress reaction this winter which caused her to miss eight weeks, the longest injury break of her career. She spent a lot of time cross-training in the pool and didn’t get back to running until the end of March/early-April.
That caused her to get a late jump on her outdoor season, but now that she’s healthy again, she’s making steady progress and starting to resemble the runner that won seven NCAA titles while at Dartmouth. D’Agostino ran 15:42 at Payton Jordan a month ago and followed that up with a 4:13.91 1500 on May 16.
One month on from Payton Jordan, D’Agostino has run 19 seconds faster over 5,000 in a race in which she did much of the work. Tonight was definitely D’Agostino’s best race so far as a pro, and if she can keep improving, she’s going to be in the mix for one of the spots on Team USA in the 5,000. Molly Huddle is focusing on the 10,000 and Kim Conley isn’t running USAs due to injury. Shannon Rowbury‘s best event is the 1500 and the same might be true for Tully and Katie Mackey, who are first and third on the U.S. list at 5,000 this year. That leaves a lot of uncertainty in the 5,000 ranks, and D’Agostino could take advantage.
Quick Take #2: Desi Linden is looking to build her speed and will try to run USAs in the 10,000
Linden passing runners in the late stage of a race isn’t uncommon, though it was odd to see her doing it on the track and not in the final miles of a marathon. She’s looking to build her speed ahead of the Olympic Marathon Trials in February and said her plan is to run the 10,000 at the Portland Track Festival and try to get a qualifier at USAs. From there, she’d like to run fast enough at USAs to extend her season on the track — whether it’s Worlds, NACACs or Pan Ams — before switching into half-marathon/marathon mode in the late-fall.
One other note: a women’s 70+ WR in the mile
Prior to the elite portion of the meet, the Adrian Martinez Classic played host to a world record — 71-year-old Jan Holmquist ran 6:37.21 to smash the 70+ world record in the mile (previous mark: 6:47.91).
Holmquist said she runs 30 miles a week and that she started running for fitness at age 38 but didn’t start competing until she was 50, when her daughter convinced her to start running road races. It’s never too late to start running.