Marc Scott (7:36) & Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (8:38) Lead Bowerman TC Sweep at Prickly Pear Invitational

4 Men Break 7:40 in 3000

By Jonathan Gault with additional reporting by Robert Johnson
February 6, 2021

The Bowerman Track Club dominated at the Prickly Pear Invitational on Saturday evening in Scottsdale, Ariz., claiming wins in all four events. The 3,000m races featured the deepest fields, and both had convincing winners as Canada’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (8:38.51) destroyed American indoor record holder Karissa Schweizer (8:40.25) over the final 150m to win her Bowerman TC debut. Schweizer actually finished third, narrowly losing out at the line to former teammate Colleen Quigley, who announced she had left BTC earlier this week. In the men’s race, Marc Scott (7:36.08) ran away from Grant Fisher (7:37.21) and Sean McGorty (7:37.47) to lead a 1-2-3 sweep. Sinclaire Johnson (2:01.70) and Josh Thompson (1:49.15) completed Bowerman’s perfect night by winning the 800 at a meet that was only announced publicly two days ago due to uncertainty surrounding the facility.

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Race recaps and quick takes below. Full results are here.

800: Johnson & Thompson kicks best down home straight

In a battle of several of the country’s top milers, 2019 NCAA 1500 champ Sinclaire Johnson opened her 2021 season — and Bowerman Track Club career — with a victory, powering past American indoor mile record holder Elle Purrier midway down the home straight to win in 2:01.70 to Purrier’s 2:02.04. Johnson ran an impressive huge negative split, 63.1-58.6.

The men’s race played out fairly similarly. After a pedestrian 54.52 opening lap by Bryce Richards, the four-man field was still bunched with 200 to go. Virginia Tech alum Drew Piazza took the lead with 120 to go, but Bowerman teammates Josh Thompson and Amos Bartelsmeyer swung wide and eventually passed Piazza on the outside, Thompson barely managing to hold off Bartelsmeyer, 1:49.15 to 1:49.24. Like Johnson, Thompson ran a negative split, 55.11-54.04.

Quick Take: The times weren’t too crazy here, though perhaps that’s to be expected

With the talent assembled here, you’d be forgiven for expecting winning times faster than 2:01.70 and 1:49.15. But let’s analyze the factors at play. These were two fields consisting mostly of milers, most of whom were making their season debuts. Add in the slow opening laps and it makes sense why the times weren’t fast.

That said, the women’s results were more impressive than the men’s. Closing in 58.6, as Johnson did, is fast for any race, and Purrier and Heather MacLean, the winner in the mile at the ATL meet last weekend, posted similar splits for their last lap.

Quick Take: Not a great opener for Alexa Efraimson in her first race under Pete Julian

Efraimson had the lead at the bell, and though she, too, ran a negative split, she could not answer the pace of the other women over the last lap and wound up dead last in 2:05.09.

We’re not going to write Efraimson off after an 800 in February, but aside from Ireland’s Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, the other women in this field are all ones she will have to beat in order to make the US team at 1500 this summer. The fact that Efraimson, who missed time last summer after shoulder surgery, was not within two seconds of any of them today shows she has some work to do.

Women’s 3000: GDS turns on the jets

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, the Canadian record holder at 1500 and 5000 meters, turned a close race into a laugher over the final 150 meters, turning on the jets to blow away Colleen Quigley, Karissa Schweizer, and Elise Cranny to win in 8:38.51 thanks to a 61.49 last lap. Content to sit behind Schweizer, the American record holder indoors who led for most of the final kilometer, DeBues-Stafford responded to Cranny’s move to take the lead with 200 to go with one of her own midway through the final turn. By the home straight, DeBues-Stafford was on her own and the gap was still widening as she closed her final 200 in 28 seconds.

Behind her, there was a fierce battle for second, with Quigley (8:40.23) narrowly prevailing over erstwhile Bowerman TC teammates Schweizer (8:40.25) and Cranny (8:40.33). Quigley went from fourth to second with an inside pass that may have been helped by the fact the track didn’t have a rail up.

Quick Take: Reminder: Gabriela DeBues-Stafford is an absolute stud

DeBues-Stafford barely raced last year — this was just her second race since February 19, 2020 — so you can be forgiven if you forgot how incredible she was in 2019. During that season, DeBues-Stafford set eight Canadian records and lowered her pbs from 4:03 to 3:56 and 14:44 (she had never run a 5k prior to ’19). Racing for the first time under new coach Jerry Schumacher, GDS again demonstrated the kick that made her so dangerous in 2019, ripping apart several of the USA’s top distance runners over the final half lap.

Quick Take: A good start for Colleen Quigley’s post-BTC career

Quigley competed tonight in a plain black jersey with the words “Achieving My Purpose” printed on it — a local nonprofit that provides resources to empower women of color. As if it weren’t already clear, Quigley is switching sponsors from Nike. The word is that Quigley will be receiving a nice pay raise, but the drawback is that she no longer gets to train with one of the world’s best coaches and training groups in Jerry Schumacher and the Bowerman Track Club.

The wisdom of that decision will ultimately be judged at the Olympic Trials and Olympics, but Quigley is off to a good start. Few would have picked her to defeat Schweizer today — though it is worth pointing out that Quigley ran 8:28 last year indoors, just three seconds off Schweizer’s AR. One thing that helped Quigley is that today’s race came down to a kick. Schweizer’s speed is improving, and her 1500 pb (4:00.02) is better than Quigley’s. But Quigley has the edge in raw speed — remember, she outkicked Shelby Houlihan to win the US mile title two years ago.

Quick Take: Elise Cranny impresses

Cranny isn’t exactly an unknown quantity — she ran 14:48 for 5k last summer — but unlike GDS, Quigley, or Schweizer, she has never made a World team or even come close. Now, at 24, Cranny appears to be coming into her own. To finish right with Quigley and Schweizer — who, admittedly, didn’t quite appear to be at her best today — is a great sign for her future prospects.

Men’s 3000: Marc Scott prevails in BTC civil war

The men’s 3000 was a near carbon-copy of the women’s race — it came down to a four-way kick over the last lap, and in the end, one athlete claimed a convincing victory: Marc Scott. Overlooked in college (he won the 2017 NCAA 10k title — but only because Edward Cheserek was injured), Scott made a big leap in 2020, lowering his pbs to 3:35 and 13:08 from 3:42 and 13:21. He showed today that form has carried over into 2021, as he was clearly the best over the final 400, using a 54.63 final lap to win in 7:36.08 and dust teammates (and former NCAA 5k champs) Grant Fisher (7:37.21) and Sean McGorty (7:37.47). 

Scott’s time puts him #4 on the all-time British list, behind three legends of the sport: four-time Olympic champ Mo Farah (7:32.62), former 5k WR holder David Moorcroft (7:32.79), and 1976 Olympic 10k medalist Brendan Foster (7:35.2h).

On Athletics Club’s Joe Klecker was the top non-BTC athlete in fourth in 7:39.18, with four-time NCAA champ Morgan McDonald of Under Armour/Team Boss fifth in 7:41.55, moving up late after a slow start. Olympic steeple medalist Evan Jager was sixth in 7:42.51.

Edward Cheserek of Under Armour’s Dark Sky Distance group was a late withdrawal — a precaution after developing a tight hamstring.

Quick Take: Putting the times in perspective

According to the World Athletics scoring tables, Scott’s 7:36 is equivalent to a 13:02 5000. Jager’s 7:42 is equal to a 13:12. While fast, those times are very much in line with what the BTC normally runs this time of year. Last February — admittedly it was February 27 — the BTC guys ran an indoor 3000 time trial at BU and the results were as follows.

1 Lopez Lomong USA 1 Jan 85 7:37.74 PB »
2 Ryan Hill USA 31 Jan 90 7:38.03 SB «
3 Evan Jager USA 8 Mar 89 7:38.25 PB »
4 Grant Fisher USA 22 Apr 97 7:39.99 PB »

The day after that, Scott ran an indoor 5000 and set a British record of 13:08.

Quick Take: Overall, Bowerman TC seemed more race-ready than everyone else out there tonight

We’re curious about how this meet came about. With several groups training in Flagstaff and Phoenix and outdoor track safer and easier to organize than indoor track right now, there had been rumblings of some outdoor meets in the Phoenix area this winter, but nothing definitive until the meet was officially announced on Thursday. The late announcement was by design:

It certainly seemed as if Bowerman TC’s athletes were more prepared to run fast tonight than anyone else. Part of that is because BTC has some very talented athletes. But it’s also worth noting that this meet was organized by Bowerman, and Jerry Schumacher is notoriously selective about his athletes’ racing schedules — he generally doesn’t put anyone on the line unless they’re ready to go. It’s possible that some of the other groups weren’t quite as race-ready as BTC — but the rare opportunity to race BTC at a local meet was too good to turn down.

We imagine almost all of the Americans in this race are dreaming of a spot in the Olympics in the 5000 in Tokyo. In case you are wondering who else might be battling it out for the US 5000 team, here is the list of US men who have broken 13:15 since 2017 (not counting Evan Jager and Matthew Centrowitz who almost certainly won’t opt for the 5000) – and don’t forget Drew Hunter (13:17.55 pb)

Fastest Americans in 5000 Since 2017
1  12:57.55 Paul Chelimo
2 12:58.10 Woody Kincaid
3 12:58.78 Lopez Lomong
4 13:04.11 Ben True
5 13:05.85 Eric Jenkins
6 13:07.61 Ryan Hill
7 13:08.25 Shadrack Kipchirchir
8 13:10.23 Emmanuel Bor
9 13:11.20 Hassan Mead
10 13:11.22 Sean McGorty
11 13:11.68 Grant Fisher
12 13:14.96 Hillary Bor

Talk about the event on our messageboard.

  1. Saturday’s Prickly Pear Invitational Is LOADED – BTC, King Ches, Coburn, Quigley, Efraimson & More!!
  2. Quigley, Schweizer 2nd and 3rd in the women’s 3k, Fisher 2nd in men’s beating McDonald (5th)
  3. LRC mboard vindicated again. It’s official. Colleen Quigley has left the BTC.
  4. Emma Coburn Scratched- terrified of Bowerman Babes 89 views
  5. Shelby H. & Colleen Q. Don’t Follow Each Other On Instagram… That’s All
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