Weekend Preview: Marcell Jacobs-Fred Kerley Showdown Headlines Kip Keino Classic; Jakob Ingebrigtsen Races in California

By Jonathan Gault
May 5, 2022

The 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene are just 10 weeks away and we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in between now and then. NCAAs, USAs, eight Diamond Leagues, and before all of that, a couple of hot meets this weekend in California and Kenya. The Olympic champions in track & field’s two most glamorous events — the men’s 100 and 1500 meters — will both be in action, Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the 5,000 at the Sound Running Track Meet on Friday and Marcell Jacobs in the 100 at the Kip Keino Classic on Saturday, part of the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold.

But that’s not all. Each of those men will be facing a fellow Olympic medalist from last year as Ingebrigtsen takes on Josh Kerr and Jacobs will tackle the red-hot Fred Kerley. Plus the collegiate 5,000 record could be under attack from Abdihamid Nur. In other action at the Track Meet, 2019 NCAA champ Yared Nuguse of Notre Dame will make his outdoor debut in the men’s 1500 while the women’s 1500 features Gabriela DeBues-StaffordShannon OsikaSage Hurta, and Olympic medalist Raevyn Rogers in the B heat.

In addition, Cole Hocker and Cooper Teare will be in action at the Oregon Twilight in Eugene on Friday, with Hocker entered in the 800 and 5,000 and Teare in the 1500. You can watch that meet live on RunnerSpace (requires subscription).

I’ve got a few burning questions ahead of the weekend’s action, so let’s address them one at a time.

The Track Meet

Where: JSerra High School, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
When: Friday, May 6, 8:20 p.m. – 12:10 a.m. ET

*Track Meet schedule/entries/results *Track Meet streaming information ($5.99 one time purchase)

How fast will Newbury Park High School stars Colin Sahlman and Lex Young run in the B heats?

Sahlman outkicked Young at Arcadia

A month ago, Newbury Park’s Colin Sahlman and Lex Young put on a show at the Arcadia Invitational, going 1-2 in the 3200m with both running under the previous meet record (Sahlman edged Young in the home straight, 8:34.99 to 8:35.72). In that high school-only meet, however, the NP boys had to do the work themselves, trading off the lead while battling each other and the clock. This time, it will be different. Both Sahlman (running the 1500) and Young (running the 5000) will have a host of collegians and post-collegians to draft behind. Add in the typically-ideal Southern California weather and they won’t have many better opportunities to run fast this spring.

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How fast?

Sahlman will have a shot to join Hobbs Kessler (3:34.36), Alan Webb (3:38.26), and Jim Ryun (3:39.0) as the only high schoolers in the sub-3:40 club. Remember, indoors Sahlman ran 3:58.81 in the mile (converts to 3:40.85 using World Athletics scoring tables), and that was in a race he won, closing in 27.79 to take down a bunch of pros on the last lap. Since then, he’s shown even better speed, running 1:48.84 for 800 and 50.26 for 400 outdoors. That suggests he is capable of a good deal faster than 3:40.85. Kessler’s 3:34 seems untouchable but if the race is quick, Sahlman could wind up moving past Webb and Ryun into the #2 spot.

Young, meanwhile, ran 7:57.06 for 3000 indoors, a time only one high schooler has ever surpassed: his older brother, Nico. World Athletics scoring tables converts that 7:57 to 13:44 for 5,000, a time matched or exceeded by just three legendary high schoolers: Galen Rupp (13:37.91), Gerry Lindgren (13:44.0), and Dathan Ritzenhein (13:44.70). The winning time figures to be faster than that, so Young will have a real chance to test himself on Friday.

MB: Lex Young / Colin Sahlman at Sound Running Meet

Will an American step up in the women’s 1500?

The headliner in the women’s 1500 is Canada’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, running her first race since leaving the Bowerman Track Club last month. She remains the class of the field: GDS was fast before BTC, she was fast while at BTC, and chances are the 26-year-old is still fast now that she’s left BTC. British Olympian Katie Snowden won here last year and bears watching, while Raevyn Rogers is stepping up for a rare 1500 in the B heat (she ran 4:14.25 at this meet last year in her first-ever 1500).

Osika was that close to an Olympic berth in ’21 (Tim Healy for TrackTown USA)

What I’m most interested in, though, is how things shake out for the Americans. The top three from USA Indoors — Heather MacLeanJosette Norris, and Elle Purrier St. Pierre — are all absent but between Shannon Osika, Helen SchlachtenhaufenSinclaire Johnson, and Sage Hurta, there are a number of intriguing names entered. All of these women are in different situations than they were at this time last year. Osika and Johnson left their coaches (Mike McGuire and Jerry Schumacher, respectively) after last season to join Pete Julian‘s Union Athletics Club. Schlachtenhaufen has the longest stint with her current coach — she’s been with Kurt Benninger for just over a year — but changed sponsors in the offseason from Saucony to Nike. Hurta, meanwhile, is still in Boulder but now runs for On Athletics Club and Dathan Ritzenhein, not the University of Colorado and Mark Wetmore.

All are undeniably talented. Osika and Schlachtenhaufen were 4th and 5th at the Trials last year, while Johnson and Hurta were both NCAA champs in college. For all four, Friday’s race will be their first 1500 of 2022. Can one of them separate from the pack?

What will Yared Nuguse do in his first race since NCAA Indoors?

Tim Healy for TrackTown USA

Yared Nuguse began his 2022 campaign in even better shape than a year ago, cruising an easy negative-split 3:54 mile in January and running 7:38 for 3k in Boston to break Alistair Cragg‘s 18-year-old collegiate record. He seemed destined to dominate the NCAA through June.

But Nuguse developed an injury after helping Notre Dame’s distance medley relay qualify for NCAAs in February and looked out of sorts at ACC Indoors (where he did not run an individual event and fell on the anchor of the DMR) and NCAAs (where he finished just 9th in the 3k). In the eight weeks since, he hasn’t raced.

So the fact that Nuguse is entered here is a good sign. You don’t fly all the way out from Indiana to run a pro meet unless you’re ready to run fast (the World Championships standard of 3:35.00 is surely on his mind), and this field has plenty of talent: US road mile champ Vincent CiatteiWill Paulson (3:33 last month at Bryan Clay), Neil Gourley (ran 3:35 twice indoors), and Jake Heyward (9th in the Olympic final). With the race reportedly being paced for 3:32, there’s an opportunity to run super fast and the field is good enough that one person (or more) might actually do it.

MB: Could YARED MF NUGUSE Run 3:32 This Weekend?!

Can anyone touch Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the 5,000? And could NAU’s Abdihamid Nur take down the NCAA record?

Ingebrigtsen was beaten at World Indoors his last time out (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images for World Athletics)

Anytime Jakob Ingebrigtsen races in the US is a treat for American fans, and seeing him line up for the 5,000 at the Track Meet is no exception. Ingebrigtsen is pretty much always in shape, and considering this race is being paced for 13:10 by Ollie Hoare and Ingebrigtsen’s pb is 12:48, any outcome other than Ingebrigtsen pulling away for the win over the final 400 is going to come as a surprise.

Behind him, however, it’s anyone’s guess as to who finishes second. Olympic 1500 bronze medalist Josh Kerr, 2021 Olympian Joe KleckerConner Mantz, in-form Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (BAA 5K champ), and India’s Avinash Sable — the current world leader in the steeple at 8:16 — should all be in the mix, but there’s no clear favorite among them.

We shouldn’t forget about the collegians either. Northern Arizona is sending its four horsemen — Abdihamid NurNico YoungDrew Bosley, and George Kusche — and considering all of them already knocked out an NCAA regional qualifier, the logical inference is that they are in California to chase some very fast times. For Young and Bosley, that could be sub-13:20. For Nur, the in-season (in-season means any time achieved before the NCAA champs) collegiate record is in play.

The current in-season record stands at 13:08.28, set indoors by Arizona’s Lawi Lalang in 2012, with the fastest outdoor time just a hair slower: Henry Rono‘s legendary 13:08.4 from 1978, the first of his famous four world records in 81 days. For LetsRun.com, the outright collegiate record belongs to Lalang at 13:00.95, which he ran in Monaco in July 2013 in an Arizona singlet well before he stopped competing for Arizona (he ran track in 2014 for them).

It feels like eclipsing those marks would take some sort of otherworldly performance until you factor in the shoes. Super spikes have changed what is possible. Just take a look at the all-time NCAA list for 5,000 meters (courtesy Track & Field News). Six of the top 10 performances have come within the past 12 months.

 Time Athlete (School) Date
13:08.28i Lawi Lalang’ (Arizona) 2/11/12
13:08.4 Henry Rono’ (Washington State) 4/08/78
13:09.30i Adriaan Wildschutt’ (Florida State) 2/12/22
13:12.27 Cooper Teare (Oregon) 6/11/21
13:13.14 Luis Grijalva’ (Northern Arizona) 6/11/21
13:13.47 Athanas Kioko’ (Campbell) 6/11/21
13:13.74i Stephen Sambu’ (Arizona) 2/11/02
13:14.04i Dylan Jacobs (Notre Dame) 2/12/22
13:14.74i Wesley Kiptoo’ (Iowa State) 12/04/21
13:15.33 Diego Estrada’ (Northern Arizona) 4/28/13

This time a year ago, only 17 men had ever broken 13:20 during the collegiate season, per USTFCCCA. By comparison, 13 collegians have broken 13:20 in the past 12 months alone. Adriaan Wildschutt ran the third-fastest 5,000 in the history of NCAA distance running and was only fourth at NCAA indoors. The sport has gone mad.

So if the best NCAA distance runner in a typical year, pre-super spikes, was able to run roughly 13:15 for 5,000, that number should be closer to 13:05 in 2022. Nur is the best NCAA distance runner right now, and if Wildschutt can run 13:09, you’d expect Nur to be capable of 13:07 or faster, assuming conditions/pacing are good on Friday.

Note, right after the 5000s end, we’ll be filming our Friday 15 bonus podcast live. We are doing it as a LIVE INSTANT REACTION video show and it will start at 11:00 pm ET.

If you can’t catch it live, and want to wake up Saturday morning and have it in your podcast feed and get a bonus podcast each week, join our Supporter’s Club.

MB: 2022 Sound Running Track Meet – Official Discussion Thread

Kip Keino Classic

Where: Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya
When: Saturday, May 7, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. ET. Men’s 100 is at 10:55 am ET.

*Schedule *Entries *Livestream is on FloTrack in the US. It’s free on World Athletics youtube channel if you have an IP in France or Romania. Other WA gold tv here.

Who will claim first blood in the men’s 100?

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Marcell Jacobs is not following the playbook of your typical Olympic 100-meter champ. Most Olympic 100-meter champs do not follow up a victory in the most glamorous event in the sport by running a full indoor season and trekking to Belgrade to run (and win) the World Indoor championships. And they certainly don’t fly to Kenya for their first 100 meters since the Olympics for a race against the Olympic silver medalist.

For years, the reigning Olympic 100 champ would often face watered-down regular season fields, either because an event had blown all of its budget on his appearance fee or because the champ wanted to protect his aura of invincibility (sometimes the world’s top sprinter has a “protection clause” giving them veto power over the field — remember the 2017 episode between Usain Bolt and Andre De Grasse in Monaco?).

But the 27-year-old Jacobs has his own way of doing things, and what is becoming clear is that he’s not afraid of a little competition. Between Saturday’s race in Nairobi, the star-studded Prefontaine Classic on May 28, and the Rome Diamond League on June 9, Jacobs is scheduled face Olympic silver medalist Fred Kerley (plus a number of other stars) three times in just 34 days ahead of the World Championships.

Expect fireworks. Jacobs was in great form indoors, going undefeated (save for one false start) and running a European record of 6.41 (#4 all-time) to win the World Indoor 60m title. Kerley has already run 9.99, 19.80, and 44.47 this outdoor season. And we already know the Kasarani track — and its roughly 5,300 feet of elevation — can produce fast times. The two quickest 100m times of 2021 came at this meet, Trayvon Bromell‘s 9.76 and Ferdinand Omanyala‘s 9.77 (Omanyala is also entered on Saturday). Neither of those men even made the Olympic final. Don’t be surprised if we see something even faster from the gold and silver medalists this weekend.

Will anything else noteworthy happen in Nairobi?

I have a bunch more smaller questions about this meet so I’m choosing to break this coverall question down into shorter questions. Here we go.

Who wins the stacked men’s 800?

The men’s 800 features Olympic silver medalists Ferguson Rotich and Timothy Cheruiyot, World Indoor silver medalist Noah Kibet, and 2021 World U20 champ Emmanuel Wanyonyi. That’s a whole lot of talent. Kibet, who won the Kenyan African Champs trials last week, is in the best form at the moment, while Cheruiyot will be looking to rebound after finishing 6th in the 1500 at the same meet.

Will Conseslus Kipruto take another step forward?

Evan Jager isn’t the only man returning to the steeple after a long layoff this year. Until last weekend, Conseslus Kipruto, the man who beat Jager to Olympic gold in 2016, hadn’t finished a steeple since his win at the last World Championships in October 2019. Like Jager, his time wasn’t impressive — 8:32.24 to finish 5th at the Kenyan African Champs trials — but the fact that Kipruto finished was a step in the right direction after a troubled last few years that has included injuries and a charge of sex with a minor. In Nairobi, he’ll face Olympic bronze medalist Benjamin Kigen, African Champs trials winner Abraham Kibiwott, and American Stanley Kebenei.

“I want the world to know that I am back,” Kipruto told The Star. “The target right now is to improve with every race in which I compete.”

How fast will Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce run?

Embed from Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, Sha’Carri Richardson, who was initially announced for this meet, is no longer listed among the 100m entries, meaning she has now withdrawn from three meets this year without explanation. Fortunately Fraser-Pryce is still entered, as is intersex Olympic 200 silver medalist Christine Mboma of Namibia, who is coming off a 10.97 pb last weekend. Fraser-Pryce only ran 22.79 in her 2022 opener two weeks ago in Kingston but is coming off a terrific year in which she ran 10.74 or faster six times and has said she believes she can lower her 10.60 pb this year.

Who wins the showdown between Olympic and Diamond League champ in the women’s steeple?

Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai was the surprising Olympic champion in the women’s steeple last year, running the race of her life in Tokyo to stun the world. But the best steepler on the planet last year wasn’t in Tokyo — Norah Jeruto, who ran a world-leading 8:53 at Pre and won the DL final, was caught up in an extended change-of-allegiance saga between Kenya and Kazakhstan. In January, Jeruto was finally cleared to represent Kazakhstan, which means she’ll be able to run a global championship this year for the first time in her career. She’ll run her first steeple of 2022 against Chemutai on Saturday.

For more on the Nairobi meet, read this World Athletics preview.

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