WTW: USA Indoors By the Numbers, Cheptegei is Sublime, Kamworor’s Mysterious Loss, Praise for Nia Akins and Shoes

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The Week That Was in Running, February 10 – 16, 2020

By Robert Johnson
February 19, 2020

Past editions of the Week That Was can be found here. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.

In case you missed any of our coverage of the 2020 USATF Indoors, catch up now: LRC 2020 USA Indoor coverage.

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2020 USA Indoors By The Numbers

Jett Thompson stole his dad’s spotlight during the post-race interview on NBC

1 – number of USA titles won by Josh Thompson, who kicked to victory in the 1500 at USA Indoors over the weekend. One is also the number of children Thompson has, and his son, Jett, stole the show after the race by trying to eat the microphone used for the post-race interview on NBC

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1 – USA titles won by Bryce Hoppel in his career. It will be interesting to see how many titles Hoppel ends up with. While he was 4th in the world last year after his junior year of college, Donavan Brazier runs the same event as him as is nearly exactly the same age. Both are 22: Brazier (born April 15, 1997) is 143 days older than Hoppel (September 5, 1997).

2 – number of 1-2-3 sweeps earned by the Bowerman Track Club as Bowerman Babes Shelby Houlihan, Colleen Quigley, and Karissa Schweizer went 1-2-3 in both the 1500 and 3000 (Houlihan won both, Quigley was 2nd in the 1500 and 3rd in the 3k, while Schweizer was 2nd in the 3k and 3rd in the 1500).

11 number of career US titles for Ajee’ Wilson, who dominated the 800 as expected in 2:01.98, winning by .43 over Kaela Edwards.

13 – number of career US titles for Shelby Houlihan after she won both the 3000 (by 1.67 seconds) and 1500 (by 1.89 seconds) in dominant fashion at USAs.

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Big Names Skip USAs To Compete For Zero Dollars Elsewhere

The number of no-shows at USAs last weekend was quite high. Now, with World Indoors being postponed until next year due to the coronavirus in China, we understand why it wasn’t the biggest priority for the pros. And even if World Indoors wasn’t canceled, we imagine there would have been a lot of no-shows anyway. Many athletes are hesitant to extend their indoor season into mid-March when they have to be in shape by June for the Olympic Trials.

What disappoints us the most, however, is how many pros did compete last weekend — just not at USAs.

At least seven recent members of Team USA competed last weekend somewhere other than USAs. We imagine there are more.

1. Lopez Lomong, Nike Bowerman Track Club – Ran at UW. Won 3000 in 7:45.82.
2. Evan Jager, Nike Bowerman Track Club – Ran at UW. Finished 3rd in 3o00 in 7:46.24.
3. Jenny Simpson, New Balance – Ran at BU. Won 5000 in 14:58.67 PB/WL (#3 USA all-time).
4. Emily Infeld, Nike Bowerman Track Club – Ran at UW. Won 3000 in 8:48.73 MR.
5. Ce’Aira Brown, HOKA NJ*NY TC – Ran at BU. Finished 3rd in 800 in 2:01.18.
6. Grant Holloway, adidas – Ran at Clemson. Won 60 hurdles in world-leading 7.38.
7. Kendra Harrison, adidas – Ran at Clemson. Won 60 hurdles in world-leading 7.80.

And it’s not like there isn’t prize money at USAs. First place pays $6,000. That would have been easy money for Holloway and Harrison.

We don’t really know what the solution is moving forward to make USA Indoors more meaningful. Would giving a 1500 runner a bye out of meaningless first round at the Olympic Trials be too crazy in return for a top-5 finish at USAs? We think it’s worth considering. As it stands right now, the first round of the Olympic Trials in the 1500 is already a waste of time

We’ve been arguing about this for years: USATF takes 30 athletes for the first round and 24 advance to the semis. That’s crazy. Forcing the fans to watch a field winnowed down from 30 to 24 is ridiculous — if you’re going to have a first round, expand the field to 36 or 48 and make the first round actually matter.

One other thing that could help juice attendance at indoor nationals: USATF should declare the weekend of USA Indoors a blackout period so any ‘standards’ achieved that week wouldn’t count. If athletes don’t want to focus on indoors, that’s their prerogative. But you shouldn’t be skipping USAs to get a qualifier for outdoors.

We do know one thing. USATF should have held this meet at least one, if not two weeks later. At a minimum, there should have been at least one weekend off between Millrose and USAs. Plus remember, World Indoors was scheduled for March 13-15, so why would you want to hold USAs a month before that? In 2017, the meet was March 3-5 in Albuquerque and last year it was February 22-24 in New York (it was February 16-18 in 2018 in ABQ, but World Indoors was also earlier — March 1-4).

If you have a suggestion as to how to make the pros care about USA Indoors, please email us. We aren’t the only ones lamenting the decline of indoors as a big deal. LRC visitor Tony Kaleth of Denver, who in 1964 “saw Tom O’Hara run 3:56.4 indoors at the Chicago Stadium with 16,000 of his closest friends,” wrote us the following via email this week.

Hey,

For whatever reason, the national indoor meet has become an afterthought. The stars of the sport are often absent and there’s rarely compelling match up. I just did some quick research in the men’s 1500 using Track and Fields News’ ranking from the outdoor season last year.

Of the ten ranked runners, four showed up…Engels, Thompson, Prakel and Kidder. The rest were there to try and break through and, perhaps, pick up a check. The women’s 1500 had a ready built in drama with Ms. Purrier running 4″16 plus prior to the meet. In the end, she didn’t even start. Albuquerque is maybe not the best place to double but the 3000 looked like a Bowerman TC time trial with predictable results. 

I’m not trying to be critical but there’s no drama for the most part…and, nowadays, with the Olympics rapidly approaching, everyone has their own timetable. Given that, why even bother, when a much bigger prize awaits. You know that those in the top ten ranking at T&F News will all be on the line for the trials. And, as someone who is too old not to recall the glory days of indoor track and field, it’s not fair to compare those times to today. It’s almost like professional indoor track in the USA is a vestige that doesn’t have much meaning any longer.

Just a thought.

More: MB: Bowerman Track Club men and Jerry Schumacher- Skip USAs to run on illegal track in Washington
MB: Jenny Simpson runs 14:58 5k
Grant Holloway And Keni Harrison Both Skip USAs To Run World Leading 60H At Clemson

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Video of the Week

We often decry the commentating we see on race broadcasts. The video below of Joshua Cheptegei running his 12:51 road 5k WR last week in Monaco shows that when you have one of the world’s best distance runners in motion, no commentary is necessary. It’s like seeing art in motion.

That video reminds us of the opening scene of the film Endurance, in which Haile Gebrselassie runs across a savannah in Africa with no commentary. Amazing. See a non-HD version of that below.

More: Rent Endurance for $2.99 or purchase it for $16.99 here.
*MB: Why Do Joshua Cheptegei And Rhonex Kipruto Avoid Even Attempting Track Records?
*MB: Joshua Cheptegei 12:49* for 5km

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Most Underappreciated Performance of the Weekend

A major thumbs up need to go to 2019 NCAA indoor and outdoor 800 runner-up Nia Akins of Penn. At BU over the weekend, she ran 2:00.71 — meaning she’s the second-fastest collegian ever indoors as she just missed Jazmine Fray‘s 2:00.69 collegiate record. It also means that Akins leads the NCAA list by a staggering 2.31 seconds (Georgia’s Amber Tanner is second at 2:03.02).

Akins is also the new Ivy League record holder, destroying the old record of 2:02.77 which had belonged to Meredith Rainey (Harvard), the two-time NCAA champ and Olympian.

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Might The NAU Men Win NCAAs With Just 3 Scorers?

On Saturday, three NAU Lumberjacks ran 7:45 or faster for 3,000 meters at Boston University.

Top 5 From 3000 at BU
1. Luis Grijalva, No. Arizona (GUA), 7:43.73
2. Daniel Estrada, MEX, 7:44.31
3. Geordie Beamish, No. Arizona (NZL), 7:44.67
4. Kieran Lumb, British Col. (CAN), 7:45.50
5. Tyler Day, No. Arizona, 7:45.70

According to Track & Field News, Grijalva is now the 6th fastest collegian ever on a regulation track, Beamish the 7th, and Day 12th. If you count performances on oversize tracks, they are ranked 7th, 9th and 14th. More importantly, they are now seeded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the 3000, 1st and 3rd in the 5000 and 4th in the mile on the NCAA descending order lists.

Could NAU win the NCAA indoor meet with just three runners?

If you score the NCAA descending order list, it sure looks like it. Cloud Training Systems’ computer program shows NAU leading the way with 45, Texas (with five projected scorers) next-best at 38.5, and LSU (with five projected scorers) third with 36.5.

Athlete Year Event Rankings Projected points
Luis Grijalva SO-2 1. 3000 Meters
3. 5000 Meters
16
Tyler Day SR-4 3. 3000 Meters
1. 5000 Meters
16
Geordie Beamish SR-4 4. Mile
2. 3000 Meters
13

For the record, a team has already won an NCAA title with just three scorers. According to a messageboard poster, Arkansas won in 1988 with just three scorers as 34 points was enough to win: Joe Falcon won the mile and the 3k (20 points), Matt Taylor was third in the mile (6 points) and Tyrus Jefferson was second in the long jump (8 points).

It’s worth noting, however, that 34 is the lowest winning score at NCAAs in the last 42 years. In fact, the last time 34 points was even good for second place was 2003. The average winning score over the last 10 years is 57 — though Florida did win with just 40 in 2018.

In terms of a projected women’s winner for 2020 NCAA Indoors, LSU leads the descending order list with 47 projected points (nine projected scorers). Texas A&M is second at 40 points and, like NAU, they only have three projected individual scorers (though their 4×400 is seeded third).

MB: What’s the least number of scorers on an NCAA indoor title winning team? Could NAU win with just 3?

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Stat of the Week (Vaporfly-Related)

139 – number of men that broke 15:00 at the Brooks Armagh 5k road race in Northern Ireland over the weekend, destroying the old record of 113 from 2019 according to Race Results Weekly (RRW).

And yes, it looks like many of the men were wearing the new shoes as shown by the the following photo from the start.

Look at all of the Vaporflys on the start of the Brooks Armagh 5k. Full Race Video Here.

RRW summed things up perfectly when they wrote, “Without question, ‘super shoes’ with carbon fiber plates and revolutionary foams are now playing a role in faster road times. However, World Athletics has ruled that the shoes are legal. As such, we are now experiencing a paradigm shift and will routinely see much faster road racing times and greater depth of fast results.”

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You Don’t Have To Be Wearing Vaporflys To Run Fast

Last week, Japan’s Honami Maeda — the winner of Japan’s Olympic marathon trials (the Marathon Grand Championship) last September — set a Japanese national record for 30k by running 1:38:35. And just like she did in the Olympic trials, Maeda was wearing standard Asics racing flats. That’s the good news.

Embed from Getty Images

The bad news is the national record at the seldom-run distance comes out to only 2:18:40 pace. For comparison, Brigid Kosgei split 1:35:18 for 30k in Chicago, the fastest time ever for the distance.

*Japanese Olympic Trials Winner Honami Maeda Breaks National 30k Record With 1:38:35 At The Ome 30k

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Kenyan XC Champs Feature Crazy Ending

The Kenyan XC champs were held over the weekend and we still don’t really know what happened. What we do know is that two-time World XC champ Geoffrey Kamworor had a big lead but ended up losing.

Some reports say that a chute wasn’t opened properly with 300 meters remaining and Kamworor ran off course. Other reports say he was tripped by a boy with a flag. No one seems to truly know — not even his agent.

“Since I was not at the Nationals XC I’m not in best position to explain what happened towards the finishing stages of the race,” Kamworor’s agent Valentijn Trouw texted LetsRun. “However, I can mention that Geoffrey Kamworor wanted to test his shape and the race gave him the confirmation he is on the right track towards the important races in the year 2020.”

And we guess it’s just possible Kamworor was beaten straight up by 59:31 man Kibiwott Kandie. Kandie sure was talking big after the race, saying the following to CapitalFM, “I am very happy to be a winner of National Championships, I had prepared well and I knew I would win. My tactics of beating Kamworor worked well and that was to save the last 20 percent for a powerful kick finish.”

*Video Report from Race
*2nd Video Report

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Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

To see the quotes of the day from last week or last week’s home page or any home page, go to our archive page.

Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.


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