February 20, 2016
NEW YORK — The men’s 3000 was LOADED and it more than lived up the billing.
There were so many names in this race we don’t have time to name them all. The field included former American indoor 5,000 record holder Lopez Lomong, steeple star Evan Jager, former NCAA champs Eric Jenkins and Cam Levins, current NCAA star Edward Cheserek, 2015 US indoor/outdoor champ Ryan Hill and 13:02 man Hassan Mead and many others. Perhaps the best way to appreciate this field is to realize that Olympic and World steeple finalist Donn Cabral ran a four-second PB of 7:47.18 and finished 11th out of 13.
In the end, there could only be one victor and after a thrilling last-lap duel with Mead, Ryan Hill was the winner of this race in a world-leading 7:38.82 to Mead’s 7:38.85, with Jenkins also under 7:40 in 7:39.43. Six or seven guys were still in contention until the final 200 including Oregon’s Cheserek, who moved up to #2 all-time on the collegiate list by running 7:40.51. Finishing just ahead of Cheserek was Mo Ahmed who set a new Canadian record (indoor or outdoor) of 7:40.11, shaving .06 off Kevin Sullivan‘s 2007 mark. Former Arkansas runner Kemoy Campbell, who now runs New Balance (Mark Coogan is his coach) had a massive pb of 7:40.79 (previous pb of 7:47.68) to break his own Jamaican national record.
University of Oregon
New Jersey-New York TC
Quick Thought #1: Today, is Ryan Hill the best 3000 runner on the planet?
Coming into today’s race, the world lead was 7:39.04. Mo Farah raced today in the 3000 in Glasow and only managed a 7:39.55. Farah’s last 400 was 58.9, his last 200 was 29ish. Hill’s last 400 was 55.20 (28.84, 26.36) with a last 200 of 26.36 — faster than what Matthew Centrowitz closed in to win the Wanamaker Mile later in the evening.
We asked Hill whether he thought he was the best 3000 runner in the world today and he deflected, pointing out that he only edged Mead by the tiniest of margins. Hill said Mead, who has a modest 3:38 1500 pb, would admit himself that he doesn’t have the best wheels.
Quick Thought #2: A very strong showing for Hassan Mead
As mentioned above, 3000 is a short event for Mead, who ran the 10,000 at Worlds last year. He should be very proud of the fact that he nearly got the win in this field. As it stands, he left with a nice pb (previous pb of 7:40.95). After the race, Mead said he’d prefer to have both a win and a pb.
Quick Thought #3: Eric Jenkins: “I don’t know if [Cheserek] can say he let me win today.”
The last time Eric Jenkins raced Edward Cheserek at this distance there was some controversy after Jenkins beat him as Cheserek said he let Jenkins win. Near the end of our post-race interview with Jenkins, which you can watch below, we referred to the controversy from last year and asked him about racing Cheserek here tonight. Jenkins said all the right things about being focused on the entire field. We then asked him directly if this win proved he really was the NCAA 3k champ last year, Jenkins quipped, “It’s a hot topic. I don’t know if he can say he let me win today.”
Quick Thought #4: 4th was a big step in the right direction as Evan Jager is coming back from injury
Jager revealed after the race that he suffered a calf strain in early January that kept him from running for seven or eight days and kept him from doing running workouts for three weeks. As a result, he had a lot of catching up to do with his Nike Bowerman Track Club teammates in practice in Flagstaff and Jager found it very frustrating to get his “butt kicked” every day in practice. He said he finally took a step back and realized his teammates are all world-class so getting beat in practice isn’t too bad of a thing.
Quick Thought #5: Edward Cheserek was pleased with his PR, which moved him to #2 all-time among collegians
Cheserek strayed from his usual tactics tonight as he got out hard behind the rabbit and continued to lead once the rabbit (former college teammate Colby Alexander) dropped out at 1600. Cheserek said that he tried to slow down and let another athlete take the lead, but no one moved up to pass him so he kept driving the train until the racing began in earnest with three laps to go.
Cheserek said that his primary goal was to knock out an NCAA qualifier in the 3k, but that he also wanted to get the Oregon school record (he did; Galen Rupp‘s 7:44.69 from 2009 is now #2 in Duck history). He said that Alistair Cragg‘s 7:38.59 collegiate record was not on his mind but added that he’d like to take a shot at it next year if the opportunity arises.
Cheserek also learned a lesson about kicking at the end of the race. At the bell, Cheserek began to kick hard, as he always does, but he wasn’t facing NCAA competition tonight. Though he began closing the gap on Hill and Mead, he could not sustain the pace and several guys wound up passing him at the end, including Jenkins. Cheserek is so much better than the rest of the NCAA that he can make his move with 200 to go and almost always coast to victory. But in the professional ranks, all the best guys can kick and Cheserek learned that today. Cheserek’s talent is immense and he will certainly improve tactically as he matures. But to do that, he has to continue to race top competition, as he did today, because dominating the NCAA doesn’t help develop tactical awareness.
Quick Take #6: Cheserek’s U.S. citizenship application is in; now he plays the waiting game
Cheserek said that, with the help of his cousins, college and high school coaches, he has submitted all the paperwork to become a U.S. citizen. But exactly if or when that process will conclude is up in the air.
“If it’s soon, it’s soon, if it’s forever, it’s forever,” Cheserek said, adding that if he gets it before the Olympic Trials, he is willing to represent USA.
“I’m not focused too much on that because we submitted everything,” Cheserek added. I’m just waiting. Try to focus on school and just running.”