The indoor season is just about ready to come to an end. It’s short and sweet and usually ends with a bang as the athletes that are competing indoors like to really test their fitness before hitting the track outside. These “season ending” meets usually a test of early fitness and sharpness.
The best of this weekend were the meetings in Birmingham England and New York (Millrose). Both had great fields and therefore great competition – and fortunately I was able to actually watch the action in both meets . Thanks to the internet I watched the Birmingham competition live online – most meets in Europe are streamed live if you know where to look. Unfortunately I had to wait 24 hours to see Millrose on tape delay. For whatever reason ESPN will only allow you to watch the meet online if you belong to certain service providers and believe it or not Direct TV is NOT one of them! Note to ESPN: why restrict access to ESPN3? I would think that they would want as many people as possible watching their telecasts even online.
In either case both meets were hot. Birmingham seemed a bit better on the short distance action, Millrose on the long. Here are the events that I found most exciting this weekend from both.
Birmingham – Hot Sprints
Men’s 60 – Rogers over Carter
The men’s 100 featured a matchup between Jamaican Nesta Carter and American Mike Rodgers. Rodgers ended this one early, exploding from the blocks and exhibiting great mid race pickup. Carter closed a bit late race but the winner was never in doubt. Rodgers looked to be recovered from the injury that caused him to miss London last year. Now the question is will he be able to lower his outdoor PR (9.85) into the sub 9.80 that is now medal territory? When I posed this question on Twitter the response was “Yes sir”!
Women’s 60 – Ahoure over Fraser Pryce / Jeter
Murielle Ahoure has dominated the indoor sprint this year, but was set to have her toughest test of the season with Olympic gold and silver medalists Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce & Carmelita Jeter both in the field. Ahoure’s final grade – A+! She matched Fraser Pryce out of the blocks, then accelerated away from the field to cross the line in a stunning 6.99, standing up with daylight between her and runner up Fraser Pryce (7.09). Ahoure is really this year’s indoor sprint find as she’s beat everyone in sight and been the epitome of consistency – much the same as Tianna Madison did last year on her way to an outdoor PR of 10.85. The question is will Ahoure continue forward and replicate Madison’s success outdoors?
Women’s 400 – Natasha Hastings sub 51
Hastings had one of the most dominant performances I’ve seen in this event in a while. She blew out the first 200 in a swift 23.5 and never looked back coming home in 50.88! Perri Shakes Drayton (51.37) and Eilidh Childs (51.50) both tried gamely to catch her on the second lap, but Hastings showed solid form in finishing with the year’s best time. She was just off her indoor PR of 50.80, and her performance indicates that we could see her better her outdoor best of 49.82. I’ve long felt that Hastings should be among the best of the elite. If she runs like this outdoors that could come to fruition.
Men’s High Jump – Dmitri over Grabarz / Ukhov / Thomas
The height wasn’t tremendous as Aleksey Dmitric’s winning height was only 2.33m/7′ 7.75". The competition was hot however with Robbie Grabarz (2.29), Ivan Ukhov (2.29), and Donald Thomas (2.29) all in the field. Making this somewhat of an early jump summit in the event. We currently lack athletes with the height and consistency of former greats like Javier Sotomayor and Charles Austin, but we are getting a group that’s bunching up around 2.34m/7’ 8” with this quartet along with Mutaz Barshim, Jesse Williams, and Andre Silnov – making this one of the deepest events in the sport and a must watch on the field.
Millrose Games – Hot Distances
Women’s Mile – Mary Cain Again
It’s not often that a high schooler is the headliner in a major race. Mary Decker and Alan Webb come to mind, but the truly world class teenager is few and far between. As good as Decker & Web were however, Mary Cain is threatening to become even better. So far this indoor season has been one long highlight reel for the young 16 year old, as she’s rewritten the mile/1500 record books. This weekend she added yet another chapter as she pushed Sheila Reid nearly stride for stride to the line setting another HSR in the mile with her sensational 4:28.25 just off Reid’s 4.27.00! Cain has that “IT” factor when I watch her compete. She’s every bit the tough competitor, and seems unfazed by the competition. She has the exuberance once showed by Pre of just loving to run AND compete! I look at her when she steps on the track and I know that she’s 16 years old, but I always expect her to be there at the finish line because Cain is certainly able! She’s going to be fun to watch this year.
Men & Women’s 600 – A pair of ARs
The men’s race looked to be a battle between sub 1:43 half milers Duane Solomon & Nick Symmonds, and Solomon did his part taking the pace out and daring the field to keep up. Interestingly enough though last minute entry Eric Sowinski decided to keep up. Not only did he keep up but as Solomon faded ever so slightly at the end he kicked past and broke the AR Solomon set earlier this winter with his own 1:15.61! Suddenly we have another possible contender in the 800 when things head outdoors. With Solomon and Symmonds’ improvements last year; Casmir Loxsom exploding indoors earlier this year; and now Sowinski’s stunning run the 800 suddenly looks a bit more competitive here in the US.
The women’s race saw Alycia Montano also take the pace out a la Solomon in the men’s race. She however didn’t fade as she smashed the old AR of 1:26.56 crossing the line in 1:23.59. Montano is certainly no stranger to front running as that’s just what she does. If she’s in the race you can bet there’s a flower (in her hair) somewhere near the front of the pack. Her problem has been holding on late in the race. If she can finish like this outdoors in the 800 however, she could become a regular under 1:58.00! Perhaps even getting under 1:57!
Men’s Two Mile – Lagat Reclaims AR
Bernard Lagat is a regular when it comes to winning races and setting records. At Millrose he had his sights set on breaking the two mile record that was set last year by Galen Rupp – on a tear himself this winter. Who would win this race was never in doubt, however as they went through the first mile two seconds off record pace there was a question of whether or not the record would fall. Fear not, as the ageless one turned on the heat with 400 to go and crossed the line in 8:09.49 to take .23 off of Rupp’s old record. Looks like Lagat will continue to be a factor as we head outdoors and eventually to Moscow – but then was there ever really any doubt?
Men’s Mile – DEEP
If there is a defining event at Millrose it’s the Wanamaker Mile – the event that closes out the meet. Time and again the meet attracts great fields for the event and this year was no different. This time around Olympians Lopez Lamong and Matt Centrowitz went toe to toe with Lamong outkicking Centrowitz for a 3:51.21 to 3:51.34 win and a new meet record! Ciaran O’Leonard was also swift in 3rd (3:52.10) and Chris O’Hare of the University of Tulsa set a college record in 4th with his 3:52.98 as this was the best ever Wannamaker Mile.
Next week we get to see the top collegians begin their run at NCAA titles as Conference Championships will be under way. Keep an eye on the SEC as powerhouse squads from Florida, LSU, Aransas, and Teas A&M begin to flex their muscles!