WTW: Juliette Whittaker breaks 2:00, Cade Flatt just misses, Sha’Carri gets beat (or does she?), Oblique Seville arrives and Marcin Lewandowski retires

The Week That Was in Running, May 16 – 22, 2022

By Robert Johnson and Jonathan Gault
May 23, 2022

Each week, we try to make the sport more fun to follow by putting the prior week’s action in perspective for you. Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap 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. If you missed our extensive coverage of the Birmingham DL or USATF Distance Classic, catch up now:

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Talk about this article on our messageboard. MB: Who ran the more impressive 800 – Juliette Whittaker or Cade Flatt? Who had the better career M. Lewandowski or Adam Kszczot?

**** Sha’Carri Richardson returns at the Duval County Challenge

American sprint star Sha’Carri Richardson had been announced for three high-profile races in 2022 and had withdrawn from all three of them. So it was interesting to see Richardson’s name – with little accompanying fanfare – among the entries at Saturday’s Duval County Challenge, the third stop on this year’s American Track League circuit (Richardson and agent Renaldo Nehemiah did not respond when LetsRun asked why she had withdrawn from the early-season races. But on May 15 Richardson posted on Instagram, “I was in a relationship with a Jamaican athlete that never cared about me from jump. I was abused and stole from yet protected her from the judgement of her country & family while they dragged me. I had to deal with homophobic and so much more that I’m still healing from.” The woman Richardson was in a relationship with, 2019 NCAA 100 hurdles champion Janeek Brown, responded with an angry video.).

Rain and lightning delayed the meet by two-and-a-half hours, and even when the meet finally got underway, it still rained for much of the competition and the track was poorly-lit. It was a ready-made excuse to scratch, and a number of the biggest names in the meet (Erriyon Knighton, Grant Holloway, Erriyon Knighton) all wound up pulling out.

Richardson, however, was not among them, and she lined up against a strong women’s 100-meter field sporting a custom bedazzled Nike pro kit for her first race since September. Doomed by a poor start, she finished 4th in 11.37 (into a -1.5 headwind) in a race won in 11.28 by 2018 US champ and fellow LSU alum Aleia Hobbs. Richardson wasn’t done though.

Initially, the meet had intended to run prelims and finals in the women’s 100 but switched to just one round (five separate finals) after the weather delay. But they wound up adding a sixth 100m race roughly 80 minutes after the first round for athletes who wanted to run again, and Richardson won that in 11.27 (-0.1 wind) despite throwing her arms up to celebrate well before the finish line. (Neither Hobbs nor Brittany Brown, who went 1-2 in the first race, doubled back). So what to make of all this? Clearly, circumstances weren’t ideal for running fast – it was raining during the second race and, even correcting for wind, Richardson’s time in the first heat was only worth 11.25 in still conditions. But nobody ran fast on Saturday, so let’s put Richardson’s time in context.

Athlete Duval time Duval time (adjusted to 0.0 wind) Season’s best (adjusted to 0.0 wind)
Aleia Hobbs 11.28 11.16 10.97 (adjusted from 10.80, +3.3)
Brittany Brown 11.30 11.18 10.82 (adjusted from 10.66, +3.2)
TeeTee Terry 11.34 11.22 10.94 (adjusted from 10.77, +3.3)
Sha’Carri Richardson 11.37 11.25 11.25 (adjusted from 11.37, -1.5)

Looking at that as a whole, Richardson most likely is in around 11.00 shape at the moment in still conditions.

There are two ways of looking at this. A pessimist would argue that Richardson didn’t need any time to shake off the rust in 2021 (she ran 10.72 in her season opener) and that there are only five weeks until USAs for her to improve.

An optimist (and put us in this camp) would argue that the fact that Richardson can come out and run competitively against three of the top women in the country right now is a solid starting point and she still has five weeks to improve until USAs. During her freshman year at LSU, Richardson opened at 10.91, but that was with a +4.3 wind on March 30. On April 20, she was just third in a race in 11.12 (+2.8). 49 days later, she won NCAAs in a world U20 record of 10.75 (+1.6). There are 57 days between her opener this year and the final at Worlds. The problem is 10.75 (+1.6) may not even medal at Worlds as Shericka Jackson completed the Jamaican sweep in Tokyo by running 10.76 into a headwind (-0.6). 

Richardson is still only 22, and her ceiling is higher than any other US 100m runner at the moment. But we need more data to accurately assess her 2022 prospects – perhaps from this weekend’s Pre Classic 100, where she’ll face Olympic champ Elaine Thompson-Herah.

**** Jamaica has a new sprint star – Oblique Seville

From 2008-16, Jamaica won every men’s global 100-meter title on offer. Six of those seven titles went to Usain Bolt, but Bolt was far from the only top sprinter in the country. In 2011, Yohan Blake was the world champion but his season’s best of 9.82 only put him third on that year’s Jamaican list (behind Bolt and Asafa Powell; Steve Mullings also ran 9.80 but we’re not counting him since he was banned for life for his second doping offense later that year). While Jamaican women’s sprinting is stronger than ever, things on the men’s side have been bleak since Bolt’s retirement at the end of 2017. Last year, for the first time in 21 years, Jamaica did not have an Olympic finalist in the men’s 100. From the start of 2019 until last weekend, only one Jamaican man had broken 10 seconds: Yohan Blake, with a best of 9.95 last year.

Jamaica’s fallow period may not last much longer, though. Watch this.

That is 21-year-old Oblique Seville running 9.86 (+0.2) in Kingston on Saturday, the #2 time in the world this year – and the fastest time by a Jamaican since Bolt’s 9.81 in the 2016 Olympic final. Seville, who is coached by the legendary Glen Mills (coach of Bolt and Blake), has been a top prospect for a while. In 2019, he ran 10.13 to win Champs – the famous Jamaican high school championships – and came just .01 shy of Zharnel Hughes’ meet record. Later that year, he took silver at the Pan Am U20 champs behind Matthew Boling.

Last year, at age 20, he lowered his pb to 10.04 and made it to the Olympic semis in Tokyo, and then ran 10.00 into a headwind in Kingston on May 7. His 9.86 on Saturday vaults him to a whole new level. And Mills does not think Seville is done improving. 

“His first part of the race wasn’t up to the standard that he normally executes, and if he did, then obviously, he could have done a better performance,” Mills told the Jamaica Gleaner. “But we are not worried about it. Starting is something that fluctuates from time to time.”

MB: Jamaica’s got a guy. 21-yr old Jamaican Oblique Seville runs 9.86!!!!

**** High school 800 runners go crazy in New York

Speaking of Bolt, you may recall that his first world record came after a rainstorm at the 2008 Reebok Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium in New York, contributing to the belief that there is something in the air around the time of a storm that leads to incredible performances (Bob Beamon’s historic LJ record came right before a storm and Lee Evans’ 400 WR was the same day).

Whether that’s true or not, there was another storm before the Tracksmith Track Night NYC on Friday night at Icahn Stadium and the meet produced two super-fast 800-meter races. In the men’s race, Iowa State alum Festus Lagat of Kenya continued his fine season with a dominant 1:45.02 win – faster than the winning times at the more-heralded USATF Distance Classic and Birmingham Diamond League. And in fourth, Cade Flatt of Marshall County High School in Kentucky ran 1:46.51 to miss Michael Granville’s 26-year-old high school record by .06. Flatt, who is not one to mince words, immediately said that he will take another crack at the record in the weeks to come.

“I think I’m the best ever,” Flatt said after the race. “I think I should have hit that mark today…I’ve still got time, I ain’t done yet.”

More magic followed in the women’s 800 as Juliette Whittaker of Mount De Sales Academy in Maryland won the race in 1:59.80, in so doing becoming just the second high school girl in history to break 2:00 (Mary Cain is the other at 1:59.51). Flatt and Whittaker are now both #2 on the all-time high school lists.

So whose performance was more impressive? It’s no contest. Flatt’s time is #54 in the world this year. Whittaker’s is #12. (And for those worried about the small sample size, 1:59.80 would have been #46 in the world in 2021; 1:46.51 would have been 153rd). Plus Whittaker won the race.

You might expect that someone with the #12 time in the world right now who just beat the woman who finished second at USA Indoors (Olivia Baker) would try to make the US World Championship team this year, but Whittaker told Fast Women that is not her plan. Instead, she’ll be running the US U20 championships and trying to qualify for the World U20 champs in Colombia in August. (The US senior champs and US U20 champs are the same weekend this year).

We like the decision. Whittaker already got the experience of racing the best in the country by running the Olympic Trials last year (a much cooler meet than USAs) and considering how loaded the US is in the women’s 800, she’d be a long shot to make the team. Plus she’ll get to face fellow high school star (and fellow Stanford commit) Roisin Willis (the high school indoor record holder at 2:00.06) at the US U20 champs and will still get good racing experience at the World U20s. Whittaker, Willis, and Sophia Gorriaran (who ran 2:00.58 indoors and 2:00.65 in the same race as Whittaker on Friday) have the three fastest times in the world this year by U20 women and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of recent US World U20 champs Ajee’ Wilson (2012) and Sammy Watson (2016).

More: Juliette Whittaker (1:59.80) & Cade Flatt (1:46.51) Run 2nd Fastest US High School Times Ever for 800

**** Fast Miles in Scotland, Corey Campbell Runs 4:05.77 at 15

While we are talking about teen phenoms, let us introduce you to another one as running fans are always on the lookout for the next big thing. At the Monument Mile Classic in Stirling, United Kingdom, on Friday, Corey Campbell set a new age-15 mile record of 4:05.77.

It’s the second time the age-15 record has fallen this year. Before 2022, the age-15 record in the mile belonged to Jim Arriola, who ran 4:08.8 way back in 1974. That mark, which we believe ended up being Arriola’s pb, lasted for nearly 48 years until Aussie Cameron Myers ran 4:07.05 in March. Myers’ mark barely lasted two months before Campbell, who has run 8:17 for 3000, broke it.

Mile Age Records Via http://age-records.125mb.com/
11 4:43.9                Daniel Skandera            USA  2 Nov 07 Oakland CA                  1 Nov 19
12 4:36.80               Jeremy Kain                USA 18 Aug 04 Los Gatos CA               13 Jul 17
13 4:26.49               James Burke                USA  5 Aug 97 Schenectady NY             21 May 11
14 4:12.77               Marcus Reilly              USA 13 Nov 05 Fairhaven MA                7 Nov 20
15 4:05.77               Corey Campbell             GBR   26 July 06                                20 May 22
16 3:56.29               Jakob Ingebrigtsen         NOR 19 Sep 00 Oslo                       15 Jun 17
17 3:52.28               Jakob Ingebrigtsen         NOR 19 Sep 00 Eugene OR                  26 May 18
18 3:51.30               Jakob Ingebrigtsen     NOR 19 Sep 00 Stanford CA                30 Jun 19
19 3:50.55i              Cole Hocker                USA  6 Jun 01 Fayetteville AR            12 Feb 21

The winner of the race was Scotland’s Ben MacMillan, who ran 3:57.76, and in the process became the first Scot to break 4:00 in the mile in Scotland since 1985.

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The Mexican women’s 1500 record has also been broken twice this year. At The Track Meet earlier this month, 30-year-old Laura Galvan ran 4:07.06 to break her own 4:08.10 record. Then on Friday in NY, 24-year-old Alma Cortes, who was 12th at World Indoors, lowered her pb from 4:07.75 to 4:06.06 to take a second off Galvan’s mark.

MB: Best High School Runners Who Never Did a Thing in College or After

**** Stat of the Week/End of an Era in Polish Middle-Distance Running

3 – number of global or European 800-meter finals from 2009-18 that did not feature either Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski or Adam Kszczot. Out of the 22 World/Euro/Olympic finals during that decade, either Lewandowski or Kszczot (or sometimes both) was present in 19 of them (86%). Their only absences? 2012 European outdoors and 2016 World Indoors (neither athlete competed at either meet) and the 2012 Olympics (where Lewandowski was the first man out of the final and Kszczot finished third in his semi when only two advanced to the final).

We bring this up because on Friday, Lewandowski announced his retirement at the age of 34, just three months after Kszczot (32) did the same. Lewandowski wrote the following in his farewell post on Instagram (translated from Polish):

“After my daughter’s accident during her rhythmic gymnastics class [just before the World Indoors], I decided to stay at home until Midia was fully recovered. Due to the fact I did not have the opportunity to train abroad, I was not able to prepare properly to defend my bronze medal from the World Championships and my silver from the European Championships and I am not interested in places outside the podium.

“Was it a difficult decision? I didn’t even think for a second because family is the priority. It was the same when I pulled out of the World Indoor Championships even though I was in great shape.

“It was a beautiful 16 years of running – an amazing adventure that is now over. Something ends and something begins because in November I will become a dad again.”

Now that both are retired, we thought it would be fun to compare the two rivals, Lewandowski and Kszczot. Who had the better career? Let’s break it down.

  Adam Kszczot Marcin Lewandowski
800m pb 1:43.30 1:43.72
1500m pb 3:38.31 3:30.42
European medals 7 8
European golds 6 4
World indoor medals 3 1
World outdoor medals 2 1
World golds 1 0
Head-to-head wins 42 30

Considering Kszczot had the faster 800 pb, superior medal record (including the only global title – 2018 World Indoors), and owns a 42-30 head-to-head advantage across all distances (have any other 800m runners in history raced each other 72 times???), he will retire with bragging rights in their rivalry. But Lewandowski did something Kszczot never could – step up and succeed at a second distance. Lewandowski spent his final years racing the 1500, an event where he won his only global outdoor medal (bronze 2019) plus two European indoor titles.

Kszczot and Lewandowski went 1-2 in major championships three times (2011 Euro indoors, 2016 Euro outdoors, 2018 Euro outdoors – Kszczot winning all three) and almost posted a famous 2-3 finish at 2014 World Indoors on home soil in Sopot before Lewandowski (who crossed the line 3rd) was DQ’d for stepping over the rail on the final turn.

The future of Polish 800m running is in good hands, however, as Patryk Dobek, who only took up the 800 last year after beginning his career as a 400m hurdler, won 2021 Euro Indoors and accomplished the one thing neither Kszczot nor Lewandowski ever could – an Olympic medal in Tokyo.

**** A Death and World Record at the Brooklyn Half

On Saturday, the RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon was held for the first time since the pandemic amidst somewhat warm and extremely humid conditions. The conditions didn’t prevent a world record from being set however as Canadian Marie-Ange Brumelot and her father Nicolas Brumelot ran 1:13:46 + 1:31:46 to set a new daughter-dad half marathon WR.

However, the race is mainly in the news sadly because a runner died and 16 were hospitalized in the conditions, which is now prompting some to say the race shouldn’t have been held. Those people are mistaken. 

The runner who died, David Reichman, a 32-year-old who ran 1:40:53, collapsed around 9 a.m. It wasn’t even 70 degrees yet in Brooklyn at the time, although the humidity was north of 90% as it was foggy (dew point in mid 60s). Yes, it became very hot that afternoon (86) but not when the race was held. Canceling a race that is run in mid to high 60 temps simply because it’s super humid would be the equivalent of banning driving because it’s going to be rainy outside. Yes, it’s more dangerous so people should be careful but an outright ban is an overreach.

We give our condolences to Mr. Reichman’s friends and family.

MB: 30-year-old runner dies at Brooklyn Half Marathon, 16 hospitalized

**** Recommended Reads / Listens

To see great weeks from previous weeks, weeks, go here.

*** 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.

***

Talk about this article on our messageboard. MB: Whose ran the more impressive 800 – Juliette Whittaker or Cade Flatt? Who had the better career M. Lewandowski or Adam Kszczot?

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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