Weekend Preview: NBIGP, Camel City, & Newbury Park Boys Chase Fast Times in NYC

By Jonathan Gault
February 4, 2022

Millrose may be in the rearview mirror, but the 2022 indoor season is just getting started. This week features three significant American meets, culminating on Sunday with the third stop on the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold, the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Staten Island. That meet will feature major stars like Trayvon BromellElle Purrier St. PierreJake Wightman, and, in his season opener, 60m hurdle world record holder Grant Holloway.

Before that, however, there’s the Dr. Sander Invitational in New York and the Camel City Elite in North Carolina. Both meets are on Saturday and feature some athletes worth watching. Your guide to the weekend is below, presented in chronological order.

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And before that – there is a meet on Friday in Germany – the ISTAF Berlin meet where 100m champion Marcell Jacobs will race for the first time since Tokyo. I don’t talk about Berlin below but you can get a preview of it here.

Dr. Sander Invitational (The Armory, Manhattan)

*Schedule *Entries/live results

How to watch: The pro portion of the meet will air live on Peacock from noon to 2 p.m. ET on Saturday. The rest of the meet can be streamed through USATF.TV+.

The race to watch here is the men’s mile (12:14 p.m. ET) which features two familiar faces desperately trying to extend their careers and one promising young talent who is just getting started.

It has been a rough few years for Ryan Hill and Robby Andrews. Fixtures on US teams throughout the 2010s, Hill, 32, and Andrews, 30, have been a shell of themselves in recent years. Hill raced just once in 2019 due to an Achilles injury and though he rebounded to run 7:38 and 13:15 in 2020, he left the Bowerman Track Club at the end of the year and a switch to HOKA NAZ Elite did not pan out. He finished dead last in his 5000m semi at last year’s Olympic Trials and ran 3:44 and 3:45 in two 1500’s.

Andrews, meanwhile, has not made a US outdoor final since winning the 1500 title in 2017 and could not come close to qualifying for the Trials last year with season’s bests of 1:51 and 3:46. Battered but not broken, Andrews ran 4:09 in the B heat at Millrose in his first mile of 2022 after getting jostled while a competitor fell and has endured a series of maladies over the past several years including Achilles surgery and Lyme disease. But he said after Millrose he believes he’s in sub-4:00 shape right now.

That’s what makes the mile at Dr. Sander compelling. 4:00 seems to be the meeting point for Hill and Andrews, striving to hold on, and Colin Sahlman, the Newbury Park (Calif.) High School standout on his way to stardom. Sahlman was the top man on the greatest cross country team in high school history last fall and ran a stunning 14:03 for 5k to win the RunningLane Cross Country Championships on December 4. In this race, he will attempt to become the 13th US high schooler to break 4:00, and his coach Sean Brosnan told LetsRun he believes Sahlman is capable of it if he can find the right mix of smarts and aggressiveness.

Sahlman’s Newbury Park teammates Aaron Sahlman (Colin’s younger brother) and Lex Young will also be racing in this meet in the 3000m — the same event in which their erstwhile teammate Nico Young (Lex’s older brother) set the national high school record of 7:56.97 on this track two years ago. That mark looms in the distance, but even breaking 8:00 would be a historic run. Only three high schoolers in history, indoors or out, have broken 8:00 (Nico Young, Drew Hunter, and German Fernandez) and all three were seniors; Aaron Sahlman and Lex Young are juniors (Lex’s twin brother Leo had some tendinitis following the cross country season and is not racing in New York).

Camel City Elite (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

*Schedule/entries/live results

How to watch: The meet can be streamed through USATF.TV+. Pro events from 2-3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Smith will be hoping for another profitable afternoon in North Carolina (Paul Merca for TrackTown USA)

If you don’t mind a quick turnaround between races, Camel City Elite meet can be a very profitable venture for a top middle-distance athlete. With $6,000 in prize money for the winner of each pro event (plus $4,000 for second, $2,000 for third, and $1,000 for fourth), the meet pays well and 2021 Olympian Rachel Smith (formerly Rachel Schneider) has taken advantage, winning the mile/3k in 2018 and 2021. That’s a cool $12,000 for 15 minutes’ work, and Smith is attempting the double again in 2022, running the 3k at 2:02 p.m. ET and the mile at 3:08. Her chief competition figures to be NCAA 5k champion Elly Henes — who is also coached by Rachel’s husband, NAU coach Mike Smith — as Henes is coming off an 8:49 3k pb at Millrose and is entered in both races as well. Watch out too, for NC State’s Kelsey Chmiel, who was 6th at NCAA XC in November and ran 15:27 for 5k in December. The other big name on the women’s side is Ajee’ Wilson, who won last week at Millrose and will be looking for her second Camel City 800 title after setting a flat-track world record of 1:59.26 here in 2019.

On the men’s side, Clayton Murphy will be busy as he’s entered in both the 800 and mile and will look to rebound after a poor season opener in which he ran 4:05 and finished dead last in the Wanamaker Mile at Millrose. In the 800 (2:32 p.m.), his chief competition is Mexican Olympic semifinalist Tonatiu Lopez, who ran 1:43 last year outdoors. The mile (3:18 p.m.) will be even tougher as Oregon TC Elite’s Vincent Ciattei showed he’s fit last week by running 3:54 in Boston. Throw in Charlie Grice (3:57 season-opening win in Arkansas) and Willy Fink (7:44 in Boston for 3k) and you’ve got a solid group of athletes who have started fast in 2022.

New Balance Indoor Grand Prix (Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex, Staten Island)

*Schedule/entries

How to watch: In the US, the meet will air nationally on NBC from noon to 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. For information on how to watch around the world, click here.

Dr. Sander and Camel City on Saturday make for a nice starter course, but the meet of the weekend is the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Sunday. NBIGP moved to Staten Island in 2021 while its traditional home, the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, was used as a mass vaccination site, and the meet will remain at Ocean Breeze in 2022 before returning Boston next year at the brand new TRACK at New Balance (to learn more, check out this week’s Pro Coaches Tour interview with New Balance Boston’s Mark Coogan).

The NBIGP  in Staten Island doesn’t have quite the same glitz and glamor of Millrose, but there will still be plenty of big names in action. A rundown of the key events:

(Update: The preview below is outdated as the meet scheduled has totally been changed and Shawnti Jackson and Elle Purrier are both out of the meet)

Women’s 300 (12:02 p.m. ET): Shawnti Jackson goes for another national record

If you haven’t learned Shawnti Jackson‘s name yet, it’s time to pay attention. Born in May 2005 — three months before her father, Bershawn, won the 400m hurdles world title — Jackson, a junior at Wakefield High in Raleigh, ran 7.18 last week to finish third in the 60 at Millrose and break the high school record. She’ll have another high school record in her sights on Sunday in the 300, where she ran 36.95 her last time out on January 15. That time put her #2 all-time among high schoolers, behind only Sydney McLaughlin‘s 36.82 from 2017. If you’re challenging a Sydney McLaughlin record, you’re doing something right.

Former NCAA champions Kendall Ellis and Lynna Irby and Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas are among the pros who will try to stop Jackson in this race.

Women’s 1500 (12:27 p.m. ET): Olympians McGee & MacLean lead the way

There’s nothing New Balance loves more than women’s middle distance runners, so there’s definitely some talent in this event. US Olympians Heather MacLean and Cory McGee are both entered, as is Olympic finalist Marta Perez of Spain.

Men’s 200 (12:37 p.m. ET): Bromell shows what he’s got

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The indoor 200 isn’t run much at the pro level since it’s not contested at the World Indoor Championships, but this one will be worth watching as it features one of the planet’s top sprinters in Trayvon Bromell. Bromell looked good in his season opener at Millrose, clocking 6.50 in the 60 and almost running down Christian Coleman for the win. Bromell hasn’t run an indoor 200 since 2016, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what he runs here, but he’s fit and he’ll be face good competition in Christopher Taylor, the Jamaican Olympian who won the 400 at Millrose. This might be the last we see of Bromell in a while since he has said this will be his last indoor race of 2022.

Men’s 3000 (12:50 p.m. ET): Wightman & Mechaal cross the pond

You may have missed it behind the incredible three-way sprint finish, but just a couple seconds back, Luis Grijalva ran a very solid 7:41 pb for fourth in the 3k at Millrose. He’ll get another crack at top competition in Staten Island in the form of Jake Wightman and Adel Mechaal. Wightman, with pbs of 1:44/3:29/7:50, could be a little out of his depth here (until last month, when he ran 7:50, it had been more than six years since his last 3k) but Mechaal, who was fifth in last year’s Olympic 1500 final and , is in top shape as shown by his 7:36 in Karlsruhe last week. He’ll go off as the favorite.

Mechaal has been racing a ton so far in 2022. Two days after that 7:36 last week, he ran and won the Spanish xc title on Sunday. He’s also run a 27:50 road 10k and another xc race.

Men’s 800 (1:17 p.m. ET): Hoppel tries to stay hot, can Will Sumner break the US HS record?

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Bryce Hoppel has won nine of his last 10 indoor races, dating back to the start of 2019, with his only defeat in that span a runner-up finish to Donavan Brazier at 2020 Millrose (it took an American record that day from Brazier to beat him). Hoppel’s latest victory was a 1:46 win at Millrose last week when he looked comfortable and composed against a tough field, and that sets him up nicely for NBIGP where, minus Michael Saruni and Isaiah Harris, he should have an easier go of things.

So, two things to watch. First, can Hoppel win again? And second, how fast does high schooler Will Sumner run? Already this year, Sumner, from Woodstock, Ga., has broken the national high school record in the 500 (1:01.25) and 600 (1:15.58), the latter by a staggering two-second margin. Breaking the US HS 800 record — which stands at 1:47.67 by Josh Hoey in 2018 — would really test the limits of his endurance (he’s #13 in the US HS ranks this year at 200 at 21.66) and would be a huge pb (current pb of 1:51.67). But considering Sumner’s dad, Brad, has a 1:46 pb and his mom, Tosha, was NCAA runner-up at 800, he would seem to have the pedigree to potentially the step up.

Sumner’s 600 pb of 1:15.58 is very close to what NCAA leader Brandon Miller of Texas A&M ran in December (1:15.49). Miller opened up in the 800 in 1:47.48.

Men’s mile (1:32 p.m. ET): Beamish steps down, Arop steps up, and Alexander goes again

Colby Alexander was one of the pleasant surprises of the Millrose Games, bravely going with Olympic finalists Ollie Hoare and Josh Kerr up front and getting rewarded for it with a 3:52 pb. Neither of those two are in this race, giving Alexander a chance to win at NBIGP, but he’ll gain another formidable international rival in Geordie Beamish, who demonstrated serious wheels in winning the 3k at Millrose thanks to a 25.71 last lap.

That win will make Beamish the favorite here, though he has a tendency to switch off in the middle of races, which means he needs to pay attention in case Alexander decides to blast it from the front. 1:43 800 man Marco Arop, who has only run one mile as a pro, could also be dangerous in a slower race.

Besides Alexander, fellow Americans (and Oregon Ducks) Sam Prakel and Johnny Gregorek, who were fourth and fifth at Millrose, are also entered here and will hope to close the gap to Alexander (it was almost three seconds last week).

For more on Alexander, I profiled him after his Millrose run: LRC SC Colby Alexander Crushed It At Millrose. Now He Needs a Sponsor.

Men’s 60 hurdles (1:41 p.m. ET): Holloway debuts

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Grant Holloway isn’t quite the Edwin Moses of the 60 hurdles yet. But he’s making progress. He has not lost a hurdles race indoors since 2014, his sophomore year of high school, and since he moved up to the 42-inch barriers as a University of Florida freshman in 2017, he has never lost a race in the 60m hurdles. He is a perfect 41-for-41, including prelims, and his last race was his best yet, a 7.29 world record in Madrid to cap an insane 2021 season in which he ran four of the seven fastest times in history. Outdoors, he was almost as good, winning 15 of his 16 110m hurdles races and clocking the #2 time in history (12.81), but he was beaten in the one that mattered most, settling for a silver medal at the Olympics in Tokyo.

Still only 24 years old, Holloway will look to stretch his 60m hurdles win streak to 42 in Staten Island as he takes on fellow 2021 US Olympians Devon Allen and Daniel Roberts, who duelled at Millrose (Allen won in 7.51 to Roberts’ 7.53), and 2021 NCAA 110m hurdles champ Robert Dunning. Plus world leader Trey Cunningham of Florida State (7.46 last weekend at Texas Tech) is entered, making an already incredible field that much better. In terms of world-class talent, this is the race of the day, no doubt about it.

Women’s 3000 (1:47 p.m. ET): Purrier St. Pierre, DeBues-Stafford, & Norris square off

Occasionally New Balance will try to end the meet on a high by putting one of their biggest stars in the final event, knowing they are assured of victory. That’s not the case this year, though, as the women’s 3k should be a competitive race. Elle Purrier St. Pierre is indeed one of New Balance’s biggest stars, and she will have a good chance at victory after successfully defending her Wanamaker Mile title last week. But to win here, she’ll have to get through Josette Norris (second at Millrose, 14:51 5k pb) and Canada’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (fifth in the Olympic 1500 final, and whose 3:56/14:44 pbs are the best in the field). Throw in Ethiopia’s Mekides Abebe (fourth in the Olympic steeple final, 9:02 pb), and no one is dodging anyone here.

Jerry Schumacher‘s athletes don’t race unless they’re ready, and we know how good GDS is, so expect a good battle between the Canadian and Purrier St. Pierre. PSP has won three of their last four matchups, but GDS came out on top at the Olympics — though PSP was not 100% healthy in Tokyo.

One other woman to watch: the B.A.A.’s Annie Rodenfels. The former DIII star has impressed by running 15:08 and 8:52 at Boston University in recent months, using a strong last lap to win both races. This field represents a big step up in class; how will she respond?

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