Track Fest: Sifan Hassan Wins, Luis Grijalva Impresses & Calls Out Katir, Kenneth Rooks & Krissy Gear PR & More

By Cathal Dennehy for
May 11, 2024

LOS ANGELES – On a cool night in Los Angeles on Saturday, some big names in US and global distance running turned up at Occidental College for the Sound Running Track Fest, a World Athletics Continental Tour bronze meeting. Sifan Hassan, Luis Grijalva, and Nikki Hiltz were among the winners. We recap the best of the action below. *Full Results *Post-race video interviews from LA

(We gave lots of post-race video interviews from LA up on our YouTube channel and have embedded two of them from Hassan and Grijalva below)

Women’s 5000m: Hassan coasts to sub-15

In her first track race since the World Championships in Budapest last year, Sifan Hassan took a comfortable victory, surging away from the field on the second lap and clicking off three-minute kilometers before a 66-second last lap carried her to the line in 14:58.83. It was the Dutch star’s first race since finishing fourth in the Tokyo Marathon in March.

“I really don’t know where I am, I just wanted to see how it’d feel,” she said. “It’s not bad. I came from a really long season of marathons and forgot how to run with the spikes.”

Hassan said she didn’t train during Ramadan in March/April and only commenced track workouts two weeks ago. “My endurance is very amazing, but it’s like endurance above 10K. The short distance, I have to improve.”

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What are her plans for the Paris Olympics?

“I can’t judge it (now) because I’m just building up, but I have two months to decide,” she said. “I really don’t know. First I have to run a good 5000m. After this, for one month, I’ll be really pushing myself hard and then I can decide.”

Hassan will race next week at the Los Angeles Grand Prix and then at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene before more events in Europe. She intends to compete over 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m in the buildup to Paris.

1. Sifan HASSAN 01 JAN 1993 NED 14:58.83
2. Natalie RULE 08 AUG 1996 AUS 15:07.00
3. Amy-Eloise NEALE 05 AUG 1995 GBR 15:07.38
4. Lea MEYER 16 SEP 1997 GER 15:09.13
5. Parul CHAUDHARY 15 APR 1995 IND 15:10.69
6. Esther GITAHI KEN 15:10.70
7. Izzy FRY 04 MAY 2000 GBR 15:11.17
8. Wuga HE 28 JUL 1998 CHN 15:12.34
9. Jenny BLUNDELL 09 MAY 1994 AUS 15:19.14
10. . ANKITA 05 FEB 2002 IND 15:28.08
11. Hannah STEELMAN 09 JUN 1999 USA 15:29.88
12. Taylor WERNER 01 MAY 1998 USA 15:54.02

Men’s 5000m: Grijalva doubles up, calls out Katir

Luis Grijalva made it a good night’s work with two victories from two races, clocking 13:16.53 to win the 5000m a little over two hours after winning the second section of the 1500m in 3:38.20 with a 55.00-second last lap.

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Grijalva ticked off 2:40 kilometers throughout the 5000m (13:20 pace) before surging clear on the penultimate lap, his last 800m covered in 2:02.32.

“I got hurt this fall and I wanted to get more races, this is a good way to break up training and get into some competitive fields that make me be more tactically aware,” said Grijalva, who missed nine weeks with a stress reaction in his sacrum in the winter.

“I didn’t start running really until February which might help in the long run. I’m trying to be my best on August 10 and not trying to get caught up in the American system where they’re trying to be their best in June. I know where I’m at and I’m confident in my training, my racing.”

He will race over 5000m in Oslo and a 3000m in Stockholm and while reflecting on his fourth-place finish in Budapest and what he learned for Paris, he said: “I know I can be there with a lap to go, but it’s about positioning.”

One of those who beat him in Budapest was Mohamed Katir, the Spaniard who was banned for two years in February after missing three drug tests, two of which came before that world final. How does Grijalva reflect on that now?

“It’s upsetting,” he said. “If you’re a two-time medalist, then your standards are the highest. This is what we sign up for and if you want to compete on the world stage, then you have to submit your whereabouts. It sucks for the sport but also at the same time, it’s good for the sport because we all play fair, play clean.

“I had a lot of respect for him but at the same time, man, you miss three tests within a year … I don’t want to say too much but like, be more accountable for yourself and be smart. If you’re making a lot of money, you have two medals, you’re driving a Mercedes, whatever, then obviously submit your whereabouts and don’t try to cheat the system. That’s all.”

1. Luis GRIJALVA 10 APR 1999 GUA 13:16.53
2. Avinash Mukund SABLE 13 SEP 1994 IND 13:20.37
3. Sam MCENTEE 03 FEB 1992 AUS 13:25.62
4. Davor Aaron BIENENFELD 25 SEP 1997 GER 13:28.94
5. Gulveer SINGH 01 JUN 1998 IND 13:31.65
6. Miguel COCA USA 13:31.95
7. Ryan SCHOPPE USA 13:51.45
8. Titus WINDERS USA 13:53.32
9. Hamza CHAHID 07 NOV 2001 MAR 13:55.63
10. Orlando CUEVAS 20 MAY 1997 MEX 14:12.35
11. Henry MCLUCKIE 03 MAY 2002 GBR 14:19.46

Men’s steeple: Kenneth Rooks blows them away as Jager blows off dust

There may still be six weeks to go until the Olympic Trials, but barring injury or illness, Kenneth Rooks is shaping up as a lock for the US team. The reigning NCAA and national champion stamped his supremacy over several rivals here as he set a PR of 8:15.08.

Sensing he could hit the Olympic standard (8:15.00), Rooks went for broke on the penultimate lap, covering it in 61.63, and followed it with 60.17. Anthony Rotich finished second in 8:23.00.

Behind them, Evan Jager, who returned to the steeplechase for the first time since August 2022, fell off the leading pack with just over a kilometer to run and came home eighth in 8:33.19. Emmanuel Bor had a baptism of fire in his steeplechase debut at age 36, his hurdling technique looking less than convincing as the the 13:00/27:22 man finished 14th and last in 8:53.91.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” said Rooks, who said the big lesson from last year’s World Championships was “to just focus on my game plan and what I need to do, and less on what’s around me.”

Jager was content, if not thrilled, with his run. “It felt comfortable early on and then it started building pretty heavy the last three laps,” said Jager, who opened up at 8:34.89 in 2022 (but on April 14) and ended up 6th at Worlds. “A little bit of that is fitness, but I just need more reps over hurdles to get that strength you need for the steeple back under me. It’s a decent first steeple in two years. I’ve got a lot of solid work in the legs. I’m in a decent spot. I’d have liked to run faster and been a little more competitive, but it’s not the end of the world.”

For the record, despite missing the Olympic standard by .08, Rooks is safe on the Road to Paris rankings as he’s ranked #17 and they take 36. Jager has no ranking as this was his first steeple since the qualifying window opened last July and you need three steeples.

1. Kenneth ROOKS 21 OCT 1999 USA 8:15.08
2. Anthony ROTICH 20 OCT 1990 USA 8:23.00
3. Duncan HAMILTON 14 JUL 2000 USA 8:23.02
4. Brian BARRAZA 16 MAY 1995 USA 8:23.05
5. Hibiki OBARA 10 NOV 2001 JPN 8:25.92
6. John GAY 07 NOV 1996 CAN 8:30.46
7. Jordan MACINTOSH 10 FEB 1999 CAN 8:31.40
8. Evan JAGER 08 MAR 1989 USA 8:33.19
9. Ryoma AOKI 16 JUN 1997 JPN 8:35.16
10. Craig NOWAK 20 APR 1994 USA 8:35.85
11. Nathan MYLENEK 29 APR 1998 USA 8:37.43
12. Clement DUIGOU 26 APR 1996 FRA 8:49.78
13. Jordan CROSS USA 8:52.35
14. Emmanuel BOR 14 APR 1988 USA 8:53.91

Women’s steeple: Constien shows her class in comeback

In her first steeplechase since tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in Doha last May, Valerie Constien showed she’s a strong contender to repeat as a member of the US Olympic team, sprinting clear over the final water barrier to win in 9:27.22, with Kaylee Mitchell next best in 9:29.26 ahead of Gracie Hyde (9:31.07) and Allie Ostrander (9:32.87).

“I’m really happy I’m healthy enough to be here and both my knees are holding up really well,” she said. “I had to take it super, super slow. I had surgery May 23 and didn’t run on the ground until September 10. It was a long time of just rehab, biking, walking, but clearly it paid off.”

1. Valerie CONSTIEN 21 MAR 1996 USA 9:27.22
2. Kaylee MITCHELL 22 OCT 1999 USA 9:29.26
3. Gracie HYDE USA 9:31.07
4. Allie OSTRANDER 24 DEC 1996 USA 9:32.87
5. Judi JONES 28 MAR 1997 USA 9:41.00
6. Stella RADFORD 25 JUN 1995 AUS 9:41.11
7. Grace FETHERSTONHAUGH 13 OCT 2000 CAN 9:42.61
8. Eleonora CURTABBI 27 MAR 1997 ITA 9:50.86
9. Stevie LAWRENCE-WRIST 18 FEB 1997 GBR 9:51.37
10. Colett RAMPF 1991 USA 9:53.09
11. . PRITI 18 DEC 1995 IND 9:53.40
12. Emma GEE 17 AUG 1997 USA 9:58.78
13. Lindsey ADAMS 05 SEP 1997 USA 10:03.58
14. Jenna MELANSON CAN 10:04.10
15. Meredith RIZZO 07 FEB 1995 USA 10:13.93
16. Katelyn MITCHEM 10 APR 2000 USA 10:18.23
17. Ryley FICK USA 10:19.65
18. Melissa GEORGE USA 10:26.30

Women’s 800m: Hiltz holds on

World indoor 1500 silver medallist Nikki Hiltz continued early-season sharpening with Hiltz’s second 800m victory in successive weeks at this track, clocking 2:00.46 to hold off world indoor 1500 bronze medallist Emily Mackay (2:00.85) and McKenna Keegan (2:00.89).

“I just wanted to win, I really didn’t care how fast we went,” said Hiltz. “On Fridays, I do speedwork anyway and last Friday and this Friday, we said let’s just mix it up with racing.” Hiltz has been dealing with allergies in Flagstaff but “other than that, it’s so smooth sailing” in preparation for the US Trials.

1. Nikki HILTZ 23 OCT 1994 USA 2:00.46
2. Emily MACKAY 30 APR 1998 USA 2:00.85
3. McKenna KEEGAN 31 AUG 1998 USA 2:00.89
4. Samantha WATSON 10 NOV 1999 USA 2:00.92
5. Heather MACLEAN 31 AUG 1995 USA 2:02.28
6. Hannah SEGRAVE 14 APR 1995 GBR 2:02.57
7. Brenna DETRA 13 AUG 1995 USA 2:03.43
8. Sadi HENDERSON 12 APR 1996 USA 2:03.48
9. Susan ANENO 27 JUL 1996 UGA 2:03.69
10. Madeleine KELLY 28 DEC 1995 CAN 2:03.99

Men’s 800m: Lopez wins as Engels struggles but vows he’ll contend at the US Trials

Mexico’s Jesus Tonatiu Lopez took victory in 1:44.71 ahead of Morocco’s Moad Zahafi (1:44.93), with Isaiah Jewett third in 1:45.28. After clashing with Noah Kibet and others during the race, Craig Engels finished eighth in 1:47.05.

“I felt like a little boy out there, I was getting pushed around,” said Engels. “I was hoping to run 1:44, 1:45. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, faster than I’ve ever been, stronger than I’ve ever been, lighter than I’ve ever been. I don’t know. At some point, it’s going to click and everything is going to come together. I don’t know when that is.”

Despite his sub-par time, Engels was adamant he’ll be a contender at the US Trials. “I still believe in myself and that’s all that matters. I don’t really care if the strangers believe in me, but I do and I truly mean it. I have a decent chance to make the 1500m and a good chance to make the 800m.”

1. Jesus Tonatiu LOPEZ 02 AUG 1997 MEX 1:44.71
2. Moad ZAHAFI 09 MAY 1998 MAR 1:44.93
3. Isaiah JEWETT 06 FEB 1997 USA 1:45.28
4. Navasky ANDERSON 21 JAN 2000 JAM 1:45.29
5. Alex BOTTERILL 18 JAN 2000 GBR 1:45.63
6. Alex AMANKWA 02 MAR 1992 GHA 1:45.82
7. Noah KIBET 12 APR 2004 KEN 1:46.35
8. Craig ENGELS 01 MAY 1994 USA 1:47.05

Women’s 1500m: Gear smashes PR with 4:03

2023 US steeple champ Krissy Gear unleashed a 62.22-second last lap to carve over five seconds off her PR (4:09.00), winning in 4:03.65 ahead of Canada’s Lucia Stafford (4:03.87) and India’s KM Deeksha (4:04.78). Gabriela DeBues-Stafford had a race to forget, getting detached on the second lap and coming home 13th in 4:23.48.

“I wanted the (Olympic standard of) 4:02.5, just to say I could do it,” said Gear. “I have a goal to repeat as US champ (in the steeplechase) but you can’t always have control of that. As my boyfriend would say: loosen the grip on the hockey stick.”

Gear said she was “devastated” to see the news about Emma Coburn’s injury which will rule her out of the US Trials. “It sucks when you see something like that happen to one of your heroes, especially someone who doesn’t deserve that at all.”

1. Kristlin GEAR 20 JUL 1999 USA 4:03.65
2. Lucia STAFFORD 17 AUG 1998 CAN 4:03.87
3. KM DEEKSHA 01 JAN 1999 IND 4:04.78
4. Dorcas EWOI KEN 4:05.60
5. Simone PLOURDE 08 JUL 2000 CAN 4:05.92
6. Madie BOREMAN 10 JUL 1998 USA 4:06.93
7. Christina ARAGON 17 JUN 1997 USA 4:07.53
8. Carina VILJOEN 15 APR 1997 RSA 4:09.47
9. Angel PICCIRILLO 08 JAN 1994 USA 4:09.88
10. Molly SUGHROUE 02 SEP 1995 USA 4:11.47
11. Danielle ARAGON 01 JUL 1994 USA 4:13.19
12. Eleanor FULTON 17 MAY 1993 USA 4:13.51
13. Gabriela DEBUES-STAFFORD 13 SEP 1995 CAN 4:23.48

Men’s 1500m: Herrera wins in a kick

Former Colorado runner Eduardo Herrera, who ran the World Indoors for Mexico this winter, showed impressive closing speed to take victory in 3:36.51, his last lap covered in 55.73, with Justin Kipkoech, the 3:34 man from Kenya, second in 3:37.29 and BTC’s Kieran Tuntivate third in 3:37.41.

1. Eduardo HERRERA 23 SEP 1997 MEX 3:36.31
2. Justin KIPKOECH 18 SEP 1998 KEN 3:37.29
3. Kieran TUNTIVATE 16 FEB 1997 THA 3:37.41
4. Cameron PROCEVIAT 20 SEP 1993 CAN 3:37.56
5. David RIBICH 27 DEC 1995 USA 3:38.14
6. Amon KEMBOI KEN 3:38.60
7. Brett MEYER 17 DEC 1996 USA 3:39.11
8. Paul RYAN 29 MAY 1997 USA 3:39.45
9. Joshua THOMPSON 09 MAY 1993 USA 3:44.95
10. Robert HEPPENSTALL 28 FEB 1997 CAN 3:48.77

Women’s 10,000m: McClain wins in return to the Track

Three months on from her fourth-place finish at the US Olympic Marathon Trials, Jess McClain got an impressive win in 31:35.28, bringing her home ahead of Katrina Coogan (31:37.85) and Maggie Montoya (31:54.34). McClain was just shy of the auto standard for the US Olympic Trials (31:30).

“Damn,” she said about her time. “The track is hard. Today was a lot about getting back on the track. I had a lot of anxiety about racing on the track after college so it was really fun to get out and feel like my old self. I’m just going to go to the Trials and put myself in it. I don’t have the Olympic standard – it’d be just like me to get third and not have the time.”

Online results show that expected Olympic standard chasers of Emily Infeld, Elly Henes and Keira D’Amato all did not start the race with a messageboard poster saying D’Amato ran 16 miles at home in Richmond. According to another poster, both Henes and Infeld warmed up for the race (one poster said Infeld even ran a few laps but she has no splits in the results) so we’ll see if they end up running at the Night of the 10,000m PBs or the 10,000 at the Prefontaine Classic.

1. Jessica MCLAIN 15 FEB 1992 USA 31:35.28
2. Katrina COOGAN 15 NOV 1993 USA 31:37.85
3. Maggie MONTOYA 02 MAY 1995 USA 31:54.34
4. Everlyn KEMBOI USA 32:15.63
5. Jessica GOCKLEY-DAY USA 32:16.98
6. XiuZhen MA 05 JUL 2000 CHN 32:19.76
7. Alyson CHURCHILL 11 JUN 2002 USA 32:20.70
8. Holly CAMPBELL 27 JUN 1996 AUS 32:23.30
9. Jacqueline GAUGHAN 27 OCT 1999 USA 32:24.82
10. Carrie VERDON 08 MAR 1994 USA 32:26.88
11. Elena HAYDAY USA 32:31.41
12. . SEEMA 10 JAN 2001 IND 32:45.61
13. Sanjivani JADHAV 12 JUL 1996 IND 32:50.12
14. Jennifer SANDOVAL-GUZMAN 01 DEC 1998 USA 33:06.73
15. Katrina SPRATFORD-STERLING 15 MAY 1990 USA 33:06.80
16. Katja GOLDRING 11 AUG 1990 USA 34:06.78

Men’s 10,000m: Clinger dips under 28:00

Casey Clinger, who’s redshirting this year at BYU, proved a class apart as he ticked off kilometer splits of 2:47 for much of the race before fading slightly in the closing part. He fell short of the standard for the US Olympic Trials (27:45) but still came home a distant winner in 27:57.90, with India’s Kartik Kumar second in 28:07.66.

“I was hoping to get the OTQ but the 10K is pretty unforgiving, it takes everything out of you so hopefully that’s good enough to get in,” said Clinger, who had surgery on a partially ruptured plantar last fall. “We figured putting off this NCAA season would be best for my health and it gives me a little bit more time to get fit, to run the best I can.”

1. Casey CLINGER 09 OCT 1998 USA 27:57.90
2. Kartik KUMAR 12 MAY 1999 IND 28:07.66
3. Andrew COLLEY 01 APR 1991 USA 28:08.29
4. Afewerki ZERU 10 OCT 1997 USA 28:09.26
5. Futsum ZIENASELLASSIE 16 DEC 1992 USA 28:10.46
6. Ryan JOHNSON 19 JUL 2001 USA 28:17.66
7. Cole SPROUT 03 DEC 2001 USA 28:17.69
8. Artūrs Niklāvs MEDVEDS 17 NOV 1999 LAT 28:19.49
9. Chris MAXON USA 28:24.44
10. Joseph TROJAN USA 28:40.95
11. Saul ACOSTA 02 AUG 1990 MEX 28:51.93
12. Andre WARING 18 AUG 1993 AUS 28:56.82
13. Erik LINDEN USA 29:18.30
14. Jacob HESLINGTON 18 OCT 1994 USA 29:26.71
15. Alejandro MARTINEZ AMBROSIO USA 29:31.61
16. Joseph MINOR-WILLIAMS USA 29:37.23

B Races

As noted above Grijalva won the “B” 1500. Matthew Centrowitz did not run the “B” 800 but Canada’s Jazz Shukla went sub-2:00 in the women’s race.

B Women’s 800

1️⃣ Jazz Shukla (Royal City AC) – 1:59.94
2️⃣ Alison Andrews-Paul (unattached) – 2:02.11
3️⃣ Kendra Coleman (Oiselle) – 2:02.15
4️⃣ Stephanie Brokaw (unattached) – 2:03.20
5️⃣ Brooke Feldmeier (Nike) – 2:05.16
6️⃣ Lora Roff (Randwick Botany Harriers) – 2:05.41
7️⃣ Olivia Baker (Atlanta Track Club) – 2:05.97
DNF Addy Townsend (New Balance)

B Men’s 800

1️⃣ Abe Alvarado (Under Armour Dark Sky) – 1:46.38
2️⃣ Luciano Fiore (Atlanta Track Club) – 1:47.35
3️⃣ Shane Streich (Atlanta Track Club) – 1:47.50
4️⃣ Charles Jones (Under Armour) – 1:47.90
5️⃣ Morgan Beadlescomb (Adidas) – 1:48.09
6️⃣ Cass Elliott (Under Armour Baltimore 800) – 1:48.11
7️⃣ Clay Pender (Atlanta Track Club) – 1:49.03
8️⃣ Thomas Staines (Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC) – 1:50.75

B Women’s 1500

1️⃣ Micaela DeGenero (Puma) – 4:08.23
2️⃣ Laurie Barton (Atlanta Track Club) – 4:10.01
3️⃣ Anna Gibson (Brooks Running) – 4:10.34
4️⃣ Grace Barnett (Asics) – 4:11.08
5️⃣ Jenn Randall (Oregon Track Club) – 4:11.15
6️⃣ Melissa Tanaka (Oiselle) – 4:12.72
7️⃣ Gabrielle Wilkinson (Atlanta Track Club) – 4:16.08
8️⃣ Casey Monoszlay (Valor Track Club) – 4:17.12
9️⃣ Vanessa Fraser (Saucony) – 4:17.50
🔟 Tracee Van der Wyk (unattached) – 4:18.66
1️⃣1️⃣ Jennifer Martinez (Mexico) – 4:22.83
1️⃣2️⃣ Cameron Ormond (Royal City AC) – 4:26.02

B Men’s 1500

1️⃣ Luis Grijalva (Hoka) – 3:38.20
2️⃣ Theo Quax (unattached) – 3:38.69
3️⃣ Matthew Wilkinson (Under Armour Dark Sky) – 3:39.18
4️⃣ Christian Noble (New Balance) – 3:39.34
5️⃣ Ajay Kumar Saroj (India / ADP) – 3:39.88
6️⃣ Daniel Schaffer (ZAP Endurance) – 3:40.08
7️⃣ Anthony Camerieri (Tinman Elite) – 3:41.79
8️⃣ Austen Dalquist (Roots Running Project) – 3:42.17
9️⃣ Aiden Ryan (Atlanta Track Club) – 3:43.46
🔟 Eric Avila (Adidas) – 3:44.08
1️⃣1️⃣ Brennan Benson (unattached) – 3:44.79

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