A Fan’s Guide To The 2023 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix: Lyles v Bromell, Sydney v Shericka, Kincaid Returns & a Loaded HS Mile

By Jonathan Gault
February 2, 2023

The 2023 World Athletics Tour Gold heads to Boston on Saturday for the first of two US stops at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix (the other comes next weekend — the Millrose Games at the Armory). There’s a lot to be excited about. A number of America’s greatest athletes will be in action, including Noah LylesGrant Holloway, Trayvon Bromell, and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, plus a bevy of international stars like Shericka JacksonLaura Muir, and Femke Bol.

Perhaps more importantly, the meet will also be a showcase of the TRACK at New Balance — a venue that has the chance to be to indoor track in the US what Hayward Field is to outdoor track. Situated in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood, it’s part of a complex that includes the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics practice facilities as well as New Balance’s global headquarters. There’s even a beer hall, Broken Records, on the ground floor. And, more so than any of Boston’s three other banked 200m tracks, it was designed with spectators in mind, with a huge grandstand on the home straight, a massive video board, and room for up to 5,000 spectators. New Balance had a great turnout and raucous atmosphere for its grand opening last April, where fans were lured by free admission and free beer to watch a NB all-star team break the world record in the DMR. The big question Saturday: will we see the same attendance (and energy) on Saturday when fans actually have to pay?

If you can’t be there in person on Saturday, the meet will air live in the US on NBC from 4-6 p.m. ET. Here’s your guide to all the action. Email it to your friends and let them read it before you all sit-down and watch the action — knowing what you are watching makes it more enjoyable. If you are going to the meet, print this out and take it as a program (yes, you could use your phone but people staring at their phones during live sporting events annoys us at LetsRun.com).

What: 2023 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix
When: Saturday, February 4. TV window 4-6 p.m. ET.
Where: The TRACK at New Balance, Boston, Massachusetts
How to watch: Live on NBC or streaming on Peacock
*Schedule/entries *Live results

Women’s 60 (prelims 3:10 p.m. ET, final 4:20 p.m. ET): Stars collide

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This could be the best women’s 60-meter race of the year. You’ve got Mikiah Brisco, the two-time defending US champ who earned silver at World Indoors last year. Melissa Jefferson, the reigning US 100m champion. World 200m champion/100m silver medalist Shericka Jackson of Jamaica. Aleia Hobbs, whose 6.98 in Fayetteville last week was the fastest time by an American since Gail Devers in 1999. Oh yeah, and a hurdler named Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone.

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Come outdoors, Jackson and McLaughlin-Levrone are the ones expected to make headlines, but this is an indoor race in February at an off distance for them. As great as Jackson was last year, she was “only” 5th at World Indoors in the 60. McLaughlin-Levrone, meanwhile, has never run a 60 in her life. While it will be fun to see them on the same starting line together (if both make the final), Hobbs has to be the favorite. Go with the hot hand.

Will Sydney M race on Saturday at NBIGP?

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Men’s 60m hurdles (prelims 3:27 p.m. ET, final 5:04 p.m. ET): Holloway looks to extend epic win streak

Grant HollowayRobert Dunning, and Trey Cunningham account for nine of the last 10 NCAA high hurdle titles between indoor/outdoor track (six by Holloway, two by Cunningham, one by Dunning). Plus there’s last year’s US champ in the 110 hurdles, Daniel Roberts.

Holloway and Cunningham, of course, went 1-2 at Worlds in the 110 hurdles last year, and while Cunningham scared Holloway’s NCAA records by running 7.38 in the 60 hurdles and 13.00 in the 110’s (both #2 all-time), Holloway got the better of him last year, winning four of their five head-to-head matchups.

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Holloway enters this race with one of the most insane streaks in track and field: 50 straight wins (counting prelims) in the 60m hurdles. It’s a streak that began six years ago, with his first hurdles race as a University of Florida freshman, and has encompassed three NCAA titles, a world title, six American records, and two world records. And really, it’s more impressive than that: Holloway was undefeated as a junior and senior in high school in the 55m hurdles, meaning he hasn’t lost a high hurdles race indoors since he was a 16-year-old in 2014.

Holloway has yet to race in 2023, but he usually starts fast (an AR of 7.35 in 2021, 7.37 in this meet last year). Don’t be surprised by another sub-7.40 clocking on Saturday — which he may need to beat a field of this quality.

Women’s 500m (4:02 p.m. ET): Bol leads the way

The most fun matchup here would obviously be to see Femke Bol, the silver medalist in the World Indoor 400 and World Outdoor 400 hurdles finals last year, square off against Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone. With SML in the 60, that’s not happening. Instead, we’ll get Bol, who should be favored in her first-ever 500m, against US 400 runner-up Kendall Ellis, who came up clutch on this track last year. Bol has pbs of 49.44 (outdoors) and 50.30 (indoors) in the 400; the world best in the rarely-run 500 is 1:06.31 by Russia’s Olesya Krasnomovets-Forsheva from 2006.

Men’s 60 (prelims 4:08 p.m. ET, final 5:36 p.m.ET): Lyles vs Bromell

Trayvon Bromell and Noah Lyles are two of the sprint world’s biggest stars and they’ll square off on the straightaway on Saturday. Bromell, the 2016 world indoor champion at 60m, has the faster pb (6.47) and will be the man to beat in his first race since winning the Diamond League 100m title in September.

Lyles’ progress could be key. Last year, he won at this meet in a pb of 6.56, then further lowered his pb to 6.55 in Birmingham. He wound up with his best outdoor season ever in the 200. This year, Lyles has said he wants to double up in the 100/200, so it’s crucial that he continue to improve his start.

Lyles ran 6.61 in his 2023 opener in Gainesville last week and was only third in his race, and the two men who beat him are also in Boston: former world junior champ Kendal Williams (6.59 last week) and his younger brother Josephus Lyles (6.60).

Women’s mile (4:35 p.m. ET): In-form Stafford takes on America’s best

No American woman was in better 1500m form at the end of 2022 than Heather MacLean. The 2021 Olympian and 2022 US indoor champ saw the early portion of her outdoor season derailed by COVID, but she went on a tear in Europe, running 3:58 in both Monaco and Brussels to move up to #7 on the all-time US list.

In this race, MacLean will face fellow Olympian Cory McGee, who has made the last two US 1500 teams outdoors, and Canada’s Lucia Stafford (4:02.12 pb), who showed she may be in the form of her life last week by running a North American record of 2:33.75 last week at Boston University. Emma CoburnDani Jones, and Jemma Reekie are also in the field. New Balance’s Elle St. Pierre normally stars at this meet but remember she’s out this year as she’s pregnant.

Who will win the women's mile?

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Men’s 800 (4:44 p.m. ET): World Indoor medalists square off

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Mariano Garcia was one of the surprises of 2022. His victory over Bryce Hoppel in this meet last year was an upset at the time, but Garcia proved he was no fluke: he went on to win the World Indoor title in Belgrade and defeat Jake Wightman to win the European outdoor title in Munich. Hoppel took bronze in Belgrade and won US titles indoors and out. Notably, however, neither man made it to the World Outdoor final in Eugene.

Will we get to see Garcia’s trademark motorcycle celebration at the end of this one, will Hoppel open 2023 with a victory, or will someone else — perhaps Olympians Isaiah Jewett of the US or Daniel Rowden of Great Britain — take the win?

Women’s 3000 (4:51 p.m. ET): Muir vs Mageean

This is the best pro distance matchup of the meet, a renewal of a rivalry that finally blossomed at the end of 2022. From 2014 until August 2022, Muir and Mageean raced 19 times. Muir won all 19. In the last two, they went 1-2 in last year’s Commonwealth and European 1500 finals, but even then, there was no sign their relationship was about to flip.

In Brussels, however, Mageean pulled a stunner, running a five-second 1500 pb of 3:56 to take down Muir. Six days later in Zurich, she did it again, taking second in the DL final as Muir finished 5th (Muir did close out the year with a win at the Fifth Avenue Mile, where Mageean was only 17th).

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You can’t fake a 3:56. Mageean earned those wins over Muir last year and showed she was one of the best in the world by the end of the season. The question now is whether she can stay at that level — a level Muir has been at for the past seven years. We’ll start to find out in Boston.

Junior boys’ mile (3:52 p.m. ET): Sub-4:00 milers Connor Burns and Simeon Birnbaum face NXN champ Aaron Sahlman

If you are a fan of high school track, this could be the distance race of the night for you.

Five American high school boys broke 4:00 in the mile in 2022 — the same amount that broke 4:00 from 1964 to 2015. Even though the high school sub-4:00 club now has 17 members, only three have done it as juniors: Jim RyunConnor Burns, and Simeon Birnbaum. Two of those three (Burns and Birnbaum, not the 75-year-old Ryun) will be in this race on Saturday. That’s historic: this will be the time two US high school sub-4:00 milers have squared off in a high school-only race.

And if that isn’t good enough, NXN champ Aaron Sahlman (who ran 4:01 last year) and Foot Locker champ Kole Mathison will also be in the field. This is going to be an awesome race. Just don’t be upset if the winner fails to break 4:00. In a race with as much talent as this one — one that will be shown on national TV — the win usually takes precedent over time.

Don’t worry about the time. Enjoy the racing. It should be terrific.

UPDATE: They’ve changed the schedule and this race will no longer be in the TV window. You can stream it on RunnerSpace+.

MB: New Balance Grand Prix Indoor Boy’s International Mile: anyone got predictions?

Who wins Saturday's boys HS mile showdown?

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Women’s 800 (5:19 p.m. ET): Wilson looks to keep winning

Last week at the Armory, Ajee’ Wilson extended her indoor win streak, which began at the start of 2019, to 14 races by defeating Sage Hurta-Klecker over 1000 meters. She’ll try to keep winning on Saturday against an 800 field led by Olivia Baker, who ran 2:00.78 to win at Boston University last weekend. Kristie Schoffield, the NCAA outdoor champion for Boise State last year, will make her pro debut in this race for New Balance Boston.

Men’s mile (5:26 p.m. ET): Kessler, Thompson, Gregorek, & more

This field features 2/3 of Team USA in the 1500 at Worlds last year in Johnny Gregorek and Josh Thompson, plus 3:50 miler Sam Prakel, British Worlds team member Neil Gourley, and New Zealand’s Sam Tanner, who ran 3:31 at age 21 last summer. Oh, and Ireland’s Andrew Coscoran, who won this race in come-from-behind fashion last season.

It also features Hobbs Kessler, still only 19 years old, who has had a strong beginning to his 2023 season. He opened up with a couple of low-key wins at his training base in Ann Arbor, then ran a huge pb of 7:39 for 3,000 meters last week in Boston. Now he gets another test, this time over his specialty distance.

In fact, this is a test for all of the Americans. Gourley, Tanner, and Coscoran are the sort of athletes they could be battling it out with for a World Championship final spot later this year. Thompson was the only man in this field who made last year’s final in Eugene, where he finished 12th.

How fast will Hobbs Kessler run in the mile on Saturday?

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Men’s 3000 (5:43 p.m. ET): More Kincaid magic?

Kevin Morris photo

This race took a hit with 1500m world champ Jake Wightman‘s withdrawal this week with a foot injury, but that departure was offset by the late addition of Woody Kincaid. Kincaid, of course, ran 12:51 to set the American record in the indoor 5,000 last week across town at BU.  It’s tempting to wonder whether he could challenge the 7:28.24 3,000m AR set by Yared Nuguse at the same meet.

(Related: Why Woody Kincaid Backed Himself & Stepped Away from Bowerman TC)

Don’t count on it. Even if Kincaid is fully recovered from his 12:51, he’ll need good pacemaking and more to make another AR happen. World U20 5,000 champ Addisu Yihune, who ran 7:36 at BU last week, is also in this field, and while Yihune may be able to lead (he briefly passed the rabbit in the 3,000 last week), don’t expect him to tow Kincaid along neatly like Ollie Hoare and Joe Klecker did last week as Kincaid basically had a rabbit for 4,850 meters. We also don’t know whether this New Balance track is as quick as the well-established BU oval.

“The pace is, from what I heard today, it’s like 30 seconds a lap (7:30 for 3,000),” Kincaid said on the LetsRun.com Track Talk Podcast this week. “I think I’m just going to go and and I’m going to compete compete and stay on the pace. And if the American record happens, fantastic. but I’m going to try to go and win. That’s what I’m thinking about doing.”

Very Nice TC’s Morgan BeadlescombBen Flanagan, and steeple Olympian Mason Ferlic are also in this one, as is Irish collegian Brian Fay of Washington, who ran a 3:52 mile last week in Seattle.

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