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Carter, Wright Lead Americans on First Night of Nike Prefontaine Classic

EUGENE, ORE. – U.S. Olympian Michelle Carter set a seasonal best in the women’s shot put, while Phoebe Wright won the women’s national 800m and Garrett Heath won the men’s national 1,500m, capping a beautiful Friday evening at Hayward Field at the Nike Prefontaine Classic.

Competition continues Saturday and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and on NBC from 4:30-6:00 p.m Eastern Time.

The Prefontaine Classic serves as the fourth stop in the Outdoor USATF Championship Series and the Diamond League Series. Friday evening featured three Diamond League events in the women’s shot put, men’s long jump and women’s javelin.

Three-time U.S. champion Carter took on a talented field in the shot put event, which saw Olympic gold medalist Valerie Adams of New Zealand place first in 20.15m/66-1.25 and bronze medalist Lijiao Gong of China place second in 20.12m/66-0. Carter finished third with a throw of 19.65m/64-5.50, improving her previous U.S. leading mark of 19.41/63-8.25 which she set at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

On the track, American Phoebe Wright took home the title in the women’s national 800m race. After an opening 400m, which saw the rabbit take runners through in 57.58, Wright’s training partner Chanelle Price took over the lead, driving through 600m in 1:28.98. Into the homestretch, the majority of the field ran neck-in-neck, with Wright pulling away for the win in 2:00.85. Canadian Melissa Bishop placed second in 2:01.16, while 19-year old American Ajee’ Wilson placed third in 2:01.24 and U.S. Olympian Geena Gall placed fourth in 2:01.33.

Garrett Heath led much of the men’s national 1,500m, leading from nearly 800m out to win in 3:38.54, just missing the meet record of 3:37.23 set by U.S. Olympian Charlie Gruber in 2004. Heath came through 800m in 1:56, then charged through the 1,200m mark in 2:55.05. With the field chasing, Heath put in a furious charge to the finish to cross in first place. Fellow Americans Jordan McNamara and Ben Blakenship finished third and fourth respectively in 3:38.95 and 3:39.48.

Olympic bronze medalist Will Claye set a seasonal best by finishing third in the men’s long jump with a leap of 8.00m/26-3. Claye was bested by fellow Olympic finalists Mauro Vinicius DaSilva of Brazil, who won with a jump of 8.14m/26-8.5, and runner-up Aleksandr Menkov of Russia, who jumped 8.11m/26-7.25.

Brittany Borman was the lone American in the women’s javelin, finishing a respectable seventh place, with a top mark of 58.01m/190-3.75, which is her second best throw of the season. Olympic silver medalist Christina Obergfoll of Germany took home the title in a meet record of 67.70m/222-1.25, which ranks as the second best throw in the world this year.

Eugene-based Will Leer finished fourth to lead all U.S. runners in the men’s international mile. Leer crossed the finish in 3:56.39, with fellow Americans Andrew Wheating and David Torrence finishing fifth and sixth respectively in 3:57.02 and 3:57.43. James Kipligat Magut of Kenya defended his title from 2012, using a strong kick to overtake race leader Daniel Komen, finishing in 3:55.24.

Complete results from Friday’s competition can be found on the Diamond League’s website.

Athelte Quotes

Phoebe Wright, 1st Women's 800m National Race
"Winning is fun. It's been awhile. It was awesome. When I finished, my official had the nerve to be like, 'Would you take a victory lap?' Duh, Yes I'll take a victory lap! How many victory laps do you get to do? I wish it could last hours."

Valerie Adams, 1st Women's Shot Put
"Today was a classic example of how much people are chasing me. I felt really fit today. I am pretty disappointed with the (mark) but I'm very happy with the win. I actually didn't feel like I won. But I've got to take the positive...I am still motivated to be the best in the world and I am still motivated to become world champion again. I'm on a good roll with my training so life is good.
I really thought I was beaten. I didn't actually think that I had won. I was very disappointed in myself immediately. But you always have to take the positive. Today was just one of those days."

Christina Oergfoll, 1st Women's Javelin
"I knew that I'm in really good shape. I was just happy that the weather is fine. It just felt good.
If it's going easy, then it's a good throw. This throw felt really easy. I knew it was going to go far. You know when it leaves your hand."

Contributed by Scott Bush

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