Pre Men’s Recap: Chelimo is Back, Centro Debuts, Cheptegei and Cheruiyot are the Kings, and Coleman is Very Fast

June 30, 2019

STANFORD, Calif. — The 2019 Prefontaine Classic was so great we have a separate women’s recap and men’s recap. The men’s recap starting with the distance races is below.

The women’s recap is here: LRC Women’s Prefontaine Recap: Hassan Wins Greatest Clean* Women’s 3000 Ever, Faith Kipyegon Returns in Style, Caster Semenya Wins Again, Houlihan, Coburn Impress.

In the men’s distance action, Joshua Cheptegei won a thrilling 2-mile as Paul Chelimo took a big step in the right direction. In the Bowerman Mile, Timothy Cheruiyot showed he’s the king of the mile right now, while Matthew Centrowitz opened up pretty well. In the sprints, Christian Coleman showed he’s the favorite for Worlds while Justin Gatlin showed he’s not done yet. Brazilian Darlan Romani was the huge surprise of the meet in the men’s shot put, breaking the Diamond League record.

Full 2019 Prefontaine results here.

Men’s 2-Mile: Cheptegei Wins A Thriller, Chelimo is Back

Chelimo came close (photo by Phil Bond)

Selemon Barega’s camp requested pacemaking for 8:02 in the men’s 2-mile. After the mile was hit in 4:04 high, Barega showed he wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted to run fast as he ran the fifth lap in 59.91 (behind a rabbit) and sixth in 60.19 (all alone) to open up a 10-meter gap on world cross country champion Joshua Cheptegei.

However, Cheptegei hadn’t given up and on the penultimate lap he cut the lead in half to get within striking distance as he ran a 61.03 and Barega, who ran 12:43 for 5000 last year,  slowed to a 61.91. With 200 to go, Cheptegei had closed the gap to Barega. Would Barega have anything in response?

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As the came off the final turn, Barega tried to hold off Cheptegei, but…hold on a minute, who was this coming from even farther back? American Paul Chelimo, who was two seconds behind Cheptegei, was flying. Halfway down the homestretch, Cheptegei got by Barega but would he realize that Chelimo was coming on his outside? To Cheptegei’s credit, he never let up and realized someone was indeed coming on his outside. He put in another spurt, which was just enough to give him a thrilling victory in this three-way sprint for the title.

Cheptegei won in 8:07.54 thanks to a last lap of 58.25 (28.1 last 200) as Chelimo was second in 8:07.59  with the fastest last lap of the race (56.12, 26.1 last 200), with Barega third in 8:08.69 (60.15). Matthew Tegenkamp’s American record of 8:07.07, set at the 2007 Pre Classic, lives to see another day as Chelimo just missed it.

Two Miles - Men  - Promotional Event
    1 Cheptegei , Joshua               UGA    8:07.54           
    2 Chelimo , Paul                   USA    8:07.59           
    3 Barega , Selemon                 ETH    8:08.69           
    4 Ahmed , Mohammed                 CAN    8:15.76           
    5 Kiplangat , Davis                KEN    8:16.02           
    6 McSweyn , Stewart                AUS    8:16.28           
    7 Yator , Richard                  KEN    8:18.09           
    8 Molla , Getaneh                  ETH    8:18.88           
    9 Knight , Justyn                  CAN    8:19.75           
   10 Balew , Birhanu                  BRN    8:20.56           
   11 Jenkins , Eric                   USA    8:22.37           
   12 Erassa , Kirubel                 USA    8:25.14           
   13 Tanui , Paul Kipngetich          KEN    8:28.60           
   14 Soget , Justus                   KEN    8:33.00           
   15 Kwemoi , Ronald                  KEN    8:42.41           
      Kibet , Vincent                  KEN        DNF           
      Som , Bram                       NED        DNF           
      Mengesha , Milkesa               ETH        DNS

Quick Take: The last 200 of this one was really fun to watch. Cheptegei and Chelimo should both be pleased with that.

In the end, Cheptegei, who thinks of himself as a 10,000 man — and confirmed after the race that he will only run the 10,000 at Worlds this year — got a much-deserved victory and Chelimo, after a modest start to the 2019 campaign, showed that once again he’ll be a medal threat at Worlds.

We did not see Chelimo come through the mixed zone after the race, but did manage to talk to Cheptegei.

Quick Take: Some unsolicited free coaching advice for Selemon Barega

We don’t understand what Barega was hoping to accomplish by trying to run fast in this one. With his 12:43 5000 from last year, he’s already proven himself to be an amazing time trialer. What he needs to prove to is that he can close a tactical race. Remember, despite being 4th at Worlds in 2017, this is a guy who didn’t even medal in the 5000 at World Juniors last year.

Men’s Mile: Cheruiyot repeats as Kejelcha falters

Cheruiyot is king (photo by Phil Bond)

Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot used a 26.3 final 200 to show he was clearly the class of the 2019 Bowerman Mile field as he won with plenty of time to celebrate in 3:50.49. There was a tight three-way battle for second between the Ingebrigtsen brothers and Ayanleh Souleiman, which Soulieman won in 3:51.22 with Filip Ingebrigtsen just ahead of brother Jakob, 3:51.28 to 3:51.30. Craig Engels was the third American in the race entering the final 100, but he ended up as the top Amreican in 5th in 3:51.60 as Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz was a credible sixth (3:52.26) in his first race of the year. Ben Blankenship was the top American entering the final 100, but he was the third American at the finish line in 7th (3:52.51), ahead of indoor 1500 world record holder Samuel Tefera (3:53.50).

Clayton Murphy (3:54.37) and Johnny Gregorek (3:54.50) both broke 3:55 but that only placed them 10th and 11th. They did pick up a few decent scalps in the race, however, as some big names ended up 12th (world champion Elijah Manangoi), 13th (Yomif Kejelcha, the world indoor record holder in the mile) and 14th (Nick Willis, the two-time Olympic medallist).

By halfway (1:55 for the lead racer), it was clear time wasn’t going to be the focus of this one as the lead racers had already backed off the rabbits. The third lap turned tactical as Cheruiyot ran it in 59.27 and at the bell everyone in the field except for Gregorek, Willis, and Centrowitz were within one second of the lead. But Cheruiyot was just biding his time and he destroyed everyone over the final 200.

One Mile - Men  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Cheruiyot , Timothy              KEN    3:50.49          8
    2 Souleiman , Ayanleh              DJI    3:51.22          7
    3 Ingebrigtsen , Filip             NOR    3:51.28          6
    4 Ingebrigtsen , Jakob             NOR    3:51.30          5
    5 Engels , Craig                   USA    3:51.60          4
    6 Centrowitz , Matthew             USA    3:52.26          3
    7 Blankenship , Ben                USA    3:52.51          2
    8 Tefera , Samuel                  ETH    3:53.50          1
    9 Birgen , Bethwell                KEN    3:54.32           
   10 Murphy , Clayton                 USA    3:54.37           
   11 Gregorek , John                  USA    3:54.50           
   12 Manangoi , Elijah Motonei        KEN    3:57.48           
   13 Kejelcha , Yomif                 ETH    3:58.24           
   14 Willis , Nick                    NZL    3:59.55           
      Abda , Harun                     USA        DNF           
      Kaazouzi , Brahim                MAR        DNF           
      Sein , Timothy                   KEN        DNF

Quick Take: Timothy Cheruiyot is almost unbeatable on the DL circuit

Cheruiyot was a class above everyone today, but what we need to start recognizing is that — at least in the rabbitted races of the DL circuit — he’s almost always a class above everyone.

Last year, Cheruiyot was a perfect six-for-six in DL races, racking up wins in Shanghai, Eugene (non-DL race), Rome, Paris, Monaco, and Zurich. This year, he did lose his opener in Doha but that can be forgiven as it was more than four months from Worlds (and he was coming back from injury) but he has since won in Stockholm and now in Palo Alto. Add in a win at the 2017 DL final in Zurich and Cheruiyot has now won 9 of his last 10 races at DL venues. That’s incredible.

Cheruiyot only arrived in California yesterday after he was pulled off his initial flight out of Nairobi on Wednesday. He eventually got things sorted by visiting the US embassy in Nairobi — his agent Malcolm Anderson told us he still doesn’t know why he was pulled from the flight — and flew out on Friday. Cheruiyot didn’t let it affect him as he did what he always did: win.

Quick Take: A smart run and great seasonal debut for Matthew Centrowitz

Before this afternoon Centrowitz hadn’t raced at all in 2019 and never in the Bowerman Track Club singlet. His debut for the BTC proved to be successful. By running 3:52 (knocking out the World standard in the process) and finishing sixth overall, he showed that he is someone who most likely will be a medal threat when Worlds roll around.

However, for most of this race, he was hard to see on TV as he was near the back: last after the first lap, next to last after the second lap, and next to last at the bell. But in actuality, he ran a brilliant tactical race. Opening up in the premier mile in the world isn’t easy. If you go out too hard and blow up, you get nothing out of it but a damaged ego. If you run smart, you get a great workout in and a boost in confidence which is certainly what Centro got today.

His pacing was scary good. If you ignore the first nine meters, his four laps were run in 57.7 ht, 58.26, 58.63, and 55.56. That’s nearly perfect pacing. The first lap in a 1500/mile should normally be a little faster than the others except maybe the last one, then run even and see what you’ve got.

Craig Engels interview

Men’s 100: Coleman wins as Gatlin impresses

Coleman is looking great (photo by Phil Bond)

World leader Christian Coleman lowered his world lead from 9.85 to 9.81, a fantastic time considering it was run in to a -.1 headwind. Coleman needed to be on top of his game as reigning world champ Justin Gatlin signaled that at age 37 that he’s far from done as he lowered his seasonal best from 10.00 to 9.87 for 2nd.

It was the first win in four career matchups for Coleman against Gatlin.

Video of race:


100 Metres - Men  - Diamond Discipline                 Wind: -0.1 m/s
    1 Coleman , Christian              USA       9.81          8
    2 Gatlin , Justin                  USA       9.87          7
    3 Hughes , Zharnel                 GBR       9.97          6
    4 Gillespie , Cravon               USA      10.05          5
    5 Rodgers , Michael                USA      10.08          4
    6 Cissé , Arthur                   CIV      10.12          3
    7 Tortu , Filippo                  ITA      10.21          2
    8 Burrell , Cameron                USA      10.21          1
    9 Tracey , Tyquendo                JAM      10.42

After the race, we asked Coleman two questions but he wasn’t in the mood to talk to us. He responded to our first question with a very quiet “I don’t know.” He did not respond to our second question, ending the interview by turning and walking away.

Gatlin only raced once after June 13 last year, skipping USAs, which he said was part of his plan to relax before gearing up for 2019 and 2020 (he plans to retire after the Olympics). Gatlin said he took advantage of the extra free time by doing things he can’t usually do while training, such as eating pizza and hot dogs and riding rollercoasters.

Men’s 400: Michael Norman continues to win but slows down

Michael Norman got a comfortable win in the men’s 400 in 44.62 as 2019 NCAA champ Kahmari Montgomery was second in 45.12 in his pro debut.

Norman, who said after the race that he felt on Saturday that he was coming down with a cold, has now run slower each time out in 2019. He opened with a sensational 43.45 on April 20, then ran 44.53 on May 30 in Stockholm, and now 44.62 on June 30.

400 Metres - Men  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Norman , Michael                 USA      44.62          8
    2 Montgomery , Kahmari             USA      45.12          7
    3 Kerley , Fred                    USA      45.33          6
    4 Jones , Jonathan                 BAR      45.46          5
    5 London , Wilbert                 USA      45.57          4
    6 Cedenio , Machel                 TTO      45.71          3
    7 Cherry , Michael                 USA      45.92          2
    8 Taplin , Bralon                  GRN      45.94          1
    9 Thebe , Baboloki                 BOT      46.20

Men’s 110 Hurdles: Ortega wins

Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega got the win a modest 13.24 as Wilhem Belocian moved up from 4th in Rabat to 2nd here in 13.29, the same time credited to Olympic champ Omar McLeod.

110 Metres Hurdles - Men  - Diamond Discipline         Wind: +0.3 m/s
    1 Ortega , Orlando                 ESP      13.24          8
    2 Belocian , Wilhem                FRA      13.29          7
    3 McLeod , Omar                    JAM      13.29          6
    4 Levy , Ronald                    JAM      13.30          5
    5 Allen , Devon                    USA      13.33          4
    6 Xie , Wenjun                     CHN      13.36          3
    7 Crittenden , Freddie             USA      13.38          2
    8 Harris , Aleec                   USA      13.39          1
    9 Swift , Greggmar                 BAR      13.56

Men’s 400 Hurdles: Benjamin ins in 47.16

Kyron McMaster kept things close for half the race but Rai Benjamin was sensational over the second half and he won in a new meet record time of 47.16 – the 9th best mark ever recorded. Benjamin now joins world record holder Kevin Young and former world record holder Edwin Moses as the third human with multiple sub-47.20 runs as Benjamin ran 47.02 at NCAAs last year.

110 Metres Hurdles - Men  - Diamond Discipline         Wind: +0.3 m/s
    1 Ortega , Orlando                 ESP      13.24          8
    2 Belocian , Wilhem                FRA      13.29          7
    3 McLeod , Omar                    JAM      13.29          6
    4 Levy , Ronald                    JAM      13.30          5
    5 Allen , Devon                    USA      13.33          4
    6 Xie , Wenjun                     CHN      13.36          3
    7 Crittenden , Freddie             USA      13.38          2
    8 Harris , Aleec                   USA      13.39          1
    9 Swift , Greggmar                 BAR      13.56

Men’s Pole Vault: Mondo snaps Kendricks’ win streak

Mondo Duplantis picked up the second Diamond League victory of his career, snapping Sam Kendricks’ six-meet win streak in the process. After a miss at 5.88, Duplantis skipped up to 5.93 as Kendricks was all clear through 5.88 and Mondo made 5.93 on his second and final attempt to get the win.

Pole Vault - Men  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Duplantis , Armand               SWE       5.93          8
    2 Kendricks , Sam                  USA       5.88          7
    3 Lisek , Piotr                    POL       5.71          6
    4 Nilsen , Christopher             USA       5.71          5
    5 Walsh , Cole                     USA       5.61          4
    6 Lavillenie , Valentin            FRA       5.61          3
    7 Braz , Thiago                    BRA       5.61          2
    8 Lavillenie , Renaud              FRA       5.46          1

Men’s Shot: Romani shocks with Diamond League record

Brazilian Darlan Romani, the 5th placer at the 2016 Olympics, pulled off a stunner in the men’s shot put. Not only did Romani, who came in with just the 5th-best seasonal best at 21.83, get the win against the stacked field that included the top four throwers in the world in 2019, but he also set a Diamond League record of 22.61m (74-2¼ ), as he edged the old DL record of 22.60 and destroyed his previous personal best of 22.00.

Quick Take: Worlds looked like a monumental matchup between the 2016 Olympic champ Ryan Crouser and 2017 world champ Tom Walsh, but now it could be an epic three-way battle. Romani’s PB is now just behind Crouser (22.74) and Walsh (22.67) as he’s now the 10th best thrower in history.

Shot Put - Men  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Romani , Darlan                  BRA      22.61          8
    2 Crouser , Ryan                   USA      22.17          7
    3 Walsh , Tomas                    NZL      21.76          6
    4 Haratyk , Michal                 POL      21.61          5
    5 Kovacs , Joe                     USA      21.39          4
    6 Hill , Darrell                   USA      21.35          3
    7 Stanek , Tomáš                   CZE      20.77          2
    8 Otterdahl , Payton               USA      20.58          1
    9 Bukowiecki , Konrad              POL      19.28

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