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Coaching Athletics Quarterly

Tuesday, 24 August 2021 17:24

Mu, Frerichs break American records at Nike Prefontaine Classic

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EUGENE, Oregon — The iconic Nike Prefontaine Classic returned to campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene for the first time since 2018 and the new Hayward Field did not disappoint. The star-studded fields with 47 medalists from the Tokyo Olympics who combined to earn 62 medals recorded two American records, four U.S. all-comers records, six world leads, three Diamond League records and eight Pre Classic records.

For the second race in a row, Olympic champion Athing Mu lowered the American record in the EPSON women’s 800m, running away from a star-studded field to win by more than two seconds in 1:55.04, chopping .17 off her national record and making her the No. 8 all-time world performer as she claimed a U.S. all-comers record. Mu followed the very quick early pace, going through 400m in 55.5, and she led at 600m in 1:24.44. No one could make a dent in her lead as Kate Grace was second in 1:57.60, and Tokyo bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers placed fourth in 1:58.01.
 
Two-time Olympic champion and world record holder Ryan Crouser is so good in the men’s shot put, only he could make the third-best throw in history look almost routine. Crouser blasted a 23.15m/75-11.5 in round four and used a “safe” 22.41m/73-6.25 in the sixth round, “winner take all” format, to win easily over Tokyo silver medalist Joe Kovacs and Brazil’s Darlan Romani.
 
Crouser opened his account with a 22.95m/75-3.5, a Diamond league record, and then added a 22.90m/75-1.75 and 22.37m/73-4.75 before his big put. In round five he uncorked a 22.89m/75-1.25, and to make sure he actually won under the Diamond League winner-takes-all showdown between the top three after five rounds, Crouser appeared to slow things down a bit on his final attempt. Kovacs had the second-best throw of the day at 21.94m/71-11.75, but he fouled in the sudden death round and Romani’s 21.44m/70-4.25 put him in the runner-up position.
 
All three Tokyo medalists moved quickly to the front in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase and went through the first kilometer in a very quick 2:55.20. Courtney Frerichs, the silver medalist at the Games, tucked into third at the halfway mark and then moved up one place to the shoulder of the leader, Norah Jeruto of Kenya. Going through 2K in 5:59.30, Frerichs was within striking distance of her own American record as she and Jeruto pulled away from the other challengers.
 
At the bell in just under 7:48, Frerichs continued to try and stay with the leader, but Jeruto’s fresh legs carried her over the final lap to a win in 8:53.65, the third fastest time in history, while Frerichs shattered her American record with an 8:57.77 that moved her to No. 4 on the world all-time performer list. Jeruto’s time was also the fastest ever on U.S. soil.
 
Tokyo silver medalist and Rio gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad dominated the women’s 400m hurdles, sprinting to an early lead and holding it through the finish in a meet record 52.77. The former world record holder was one lane inside Shamier Little and she made up that stagger halfway down the backstretch. Hurdling smoothly and efficiently around the final turn, she won by more than a second as Little was the runner-up in 53.79.
 
Reigning world champion Noah Lyles ran a superb curve in the Xfinity men’s 200m and came off the turn in the lead, increasing that margin down the stretch to win in 19.52, the fastest time in the world this year and the ninth-fastest performance in history. Tokyo silver medalist Kenny Bednarek was second in 19.80, and Noah’s younger brother, Josephus Lyles, notched a lifetime best of 20.03 to take third. Dropping down a distance and avoiding barriers, Olympic 400m hurdles silver medalist and American record holder Rai Benjamin was fifth in 20.16.
 
A third attempt clearance at 4.82m/15-9.75 gave Olympic gold medalist Katie Nageotte the victory in the women’s pole vault ahead of Britain’s Tokyo bronze medalist Holly Bradshaw. Nageotte required three tries at her opening height of 4.62m/15-1.75 and had to jump twice at 4.72m/15-5.75, a height Bradshaw navigated for the first time. Needing a clutch jump at her final height, Nageotte came through as Bradshaw missed three times. Olivia Gruver was third at 4.52m/14-10, and Morgann LeLeux-Romero was fourth.
 
It took six more heights in a jump-off to determine the winner of the women’s high jump after Vashti Cunningham and Iryna Gerashchenko of Ukraine were tied with a best of 1.98m/6-6. Both women missed three times at 2.00m/6-6.75, and then missed again on the first try in the jump-off. As the bar went lower and lower, it wasn’t until four tries later that both cleared 1.92m/6-3.5, and Gerashchenko sealed her victory with a clearance at 1.94m/6-4.25. Rachel McCoy was fifth at 1.90m/6-2.75.
 
Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji pulled off an upset in the Xfinity women’s 200m, coming through in lane three to win in a wind-aided (+2.4) 22.06w over Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas. Thomas edged past Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 2019 world champion, in the final few meters to clock 22.11 for second, .08 ahead of Asher-Smith.
 
Closing out the meet with a U.S. outdoor all-comers record in the Nike Bowerman men’s mile, Olympic 1,500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway breezed past Australia’s Stewart McSweyn to win in 3:47.24, easily the fastest time in the world in 2021. McSweyn was the leader after the rabbit dropped out, going through 800m in 1:52.3, but he couldn’t shake Ingebrigtsen, who went past him around the last bend. The Australian held on for second in 3:48.40, just off his lifetime best, while Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot was the best of the rest in third at 3:51.17.
 
A showdown between the Olympic champions at 5,000m and 10,000m saw Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei come out on top in the men’s two miles in 8:09.55. Cheptegei, the world record holder at 5,000m and 10,000m, outkicked Selemon Barega of Ethiopia, who had his own battle with American Paul Chelimo, who was the bronze medalist at Tokyo in the 5K. Barega was a single breadth ahead at the line to take second in 8:09.82, with Chelimo third in 8:09.83, the sixth-fastest performance in U.S. history. Grant Fisher (8:11.09) and Joe Klecker (8:11.55) turned in lifetime bests to finish sixth and seventh.
 
Shattering her own U.S. all-comers record in the Garden of Life women’s 1,500m, Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya obliterated the field with a 3:53.23 that was the 10th fastest time in history. Kipyegon was all by herself after that and didn’t slow down. Australia’s Linden Hall ended up second in 3:59.73, and Josette Norris continued her hot streak with a 4:00.07 in third. Shannon Osika was fifth in 4:01.16.
 
Six of the eight Olympic finalists in the Nike women’s 100m took to the blocks, including the three medalists from Jamaica. Gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah took over with 40m to go and sped away to win in 10.54, the second fastest time in history. The Tokyo podium was repeated as Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce was second in 10.73 and Shericka Jackson matched her lifetime best with a 10.76 in third. Teahna Daniels, who was seventh at the Games, had the best race of her career to place fourth in 10.83, taking .15 off her personal best, while Javianne Oliver tied her PR with a 10.96 in sixth.
 
Riding a strong tailwind (+2.9), Olympic 200m champion Andre De Grasse of Canada held off Tokyo silver medalist Fred Kerley to win the BD men’s 100m in 9.74w, with Kerley second in 9.78w and Ronnie Baker third in 9.82w. Trayvon Bromell, the fastest man in the world in 2021, was fourth in 9.86w, while Olympic 400m fifth-placer Michael Norman clocked 9.90w in fifth. Justin Gatlin (9.93w) and Isiah Young (9.98w) also dipped under 10 seconds, as did South Africa’s Akani Simbine (9.95w), the first time eight men have ever broken that barrier in one race.
 
Olympic champion Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Portugal took only two attempts in the men’s triple jump, a 17.24m/56-6.75 in round one to make sure he qualified for the final round, and a massive 17.63m/57-10.25 in round six to seal the win. Donald Scott finished third at 17.03m/55-10.5, one place ahead of Tokyo fourth-placer Will Claye, who had a best of 16.83m/55-2.75. Chris Benard was sixth.
 
Clayton Murphy had a small lead with 300m to go after the men’s 800m field went through the bell in 50.61, but there was a mass of humanity with him and most of the pack remained in contention coming off the final turn. Canada’s Marco Arop had a strong finishing kick to win in 1:44.51 ahead of the Olympic silver and gold medalists from Kenya, Ferguson Rotich and Emmanuel Korir. Murphy was fifth in 1:45.97 and was the top U.S. finisher.
Distance Night (Friday, August 20, 2021)

On the heels of her historic triple-medal performance at Tokyo, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands had one goal for the women’s 5,000m -- to break the world record of 14:06.62. Hassan, who took gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m and bronze in the 1,500m at the Games, would need to chop 16 seconds off her lifetime best to take the world record away from Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey, who set the mark in 2020.
 
Pacemakers set an aggressive but achievable early tempo, along with the innovative wavelight technology, and Hassan was on pace with eight laps to go. Coming through 2K at just under 5:40, Hassan was a couple strides behind Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet as the pacer dropped out a few meters before the halfway point, leaving her on her own with only the green lights on the rail to help her stay in reach of the record.
 
Passing 3,000m in 8:30.54, Hassan was a few meters off record pace, and she dropped off some more over the next circuit and seemed to have lost her opportunity for history as the effect of 24,500m of hard racing at the Olympics took its toll. Hassan won in 14:27.89, her fastest time of 2021, but behind her in fifth place Alicia Monson had a huge lifetime best of 14:48.49 to move to No. 8 on the all-time U.S. performer list, while Abbey Cooper also had a great night and sliced more than four seconds off her personal best with a 14:52.37 in sixth.
 
Chasing an 8:58.58 world best in the women’s two miles, Gidey was eager to add to the world records she set at 5,000m and 10,000m over the last two years. A 4:32 first half left the leaders with a lot to do as Gidey was a step in front of Kenya’s Hellen Obiri and Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi. Gidey picked up the pace over the next lap and Niyonsaba tried to go with her as Obiri struggled to maintain contact.
 
With two laps to go, Niyonsaba stayed on Gidey’s shoulder and then eased past her down the backstretch of the next to last lap and the clock showed 7:53.72 with 400m left. Niyonsaba started to pull away and Gidey had no response except to watch the gap grow steadily. Niyonsaba sprinted to the finish and clocked 9:00.75, the second-fastest outdoor time ever, with Gidey settling for second in 9:06.74, well clear of Obiri. Elise Cranny was the top American in sixth at 9:22.44, taking over the No. 7 spot on the all-time U.S. performer list.
 
Henry Wynne was the leader behind the pacers through 400m, just in front of Engels, and Vincent Ciattei edged ahead of Engels after the halfway mark. New Zealand’s Geordie Beamish made up a huge deficit over the final half-lap to win the men’s mile in 3:54.86, surprising Craig Engels after Engels had made a bold move to overtake Canada’s Charles Philibert-Thiboutot coming off the final curve. Engels waved to the crowd after taking the lead and was unaware of the fast-closing Beamish, who zipped past everyone down the stretch. Engels was second in 3:55.41, outleaning Philibert-Thiboutot.
 
NCAA runner-up Sage Hurta led the pack in the women’s 1,500m through 800m and took them past the bell in 3:05, but Dani Aragon started to move past her on the penultimate turn. Aragon and Hurta continued to lead down the final backstretch before Rebecca Mehra made a strong move off the final bend and sprinted away to win in 4:06.35, with Hurta second in a lifetime best 4:07.50.
 
Official results can be found here.

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