NEW YORK — A 33-year-old American record was broken by a 39-year-old star at the 107th Millrose Games Saturday night. Bernard Lagat entered the 2,000-meter run looking to break the record of 4:58.6 set by Steve Scott in 1981.
Lagat, a fan favorite and the oldest runner in the field by eight years, took the lead at 1,200 meters and never looked back. Lagat held off a hard-charging Cam Levins to break the tape in 4:54.7, shattering the old record. In fact, the first five finishers in the race ran under five minutes. It is not the first time Lagat has broken a record at the Armory. At last year’s Millrose Games, he set the two-mile American Record. After Saturday's race, he said that he will be back for another record attempt in 2015.
In the Wanamaker Mile, the signature event of the NYRR Millrose Games, the track & field world relished the opportunity to say goodbye to American record holder Alan Webb who is retiring from professional track to focus on mastering the triathlon. Webb, who became the first American high-school student to break four minutes indoors at the Armory in 2001, received wild applause from the sold-out crowd as a retrospective of his storied career played on the giant screen.
But this year’s race belonged to Will Leer. In the final turn, Leer surged past new collegiate record-holder Lawi Lalang and Nick Willis to break the tape in a time of 3:52.47. Webb finished well behind the leaders in 4:06.11, but shared an emotional victory lap with Leer.
If any athlete received a welcome as warm Lagat’s and Webb’s, it was high school star Mary Cain. Cain, who lives in nearby Bronxville, N.Y., was looking to win this year’s Women’s Wanamaker Mile after finishing second in 2013. Cain moved to the front with two laps to go, bringing training partner Treniere Moser with her. The 17-year-old won the race with a time of 4:27.73 in front of her family and a national television audience on NBC Sports Network. Cain also broke her own High School American record of 4:28.25 set here last year.
Cain was not the only teen sensation on the track. Ajee’ Wilson, 19, held off a hard-charging Jenna Westaway to win the women’s 800 meters in 2:01.81. Wilson’s time is the fastest time by an American at that distance this year.
Terrence Trammell capped his career at the Armory with a fourth victory. Trammell, who says he is retiring after this year, won the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.57 seconds.
Long jump specialist Janay DeLoach Soukup is making a name for herself in the 60-meter hurdles. She set a world-leading time, winning in 7.91 seconds.
American Tori Bowie turned in a runner-up finish in the women's 60 meters, crossing in 7.14 for the fastest time by an American this season.
Marvin Bracy is having a February to remember. After winning in Boston last week, Bracy came back to win in the 60 meters in New York with an American-leading time of 6.50.
In the pre-race news conference, Kim Conley said she planned to go out hard in the women’s 3,000-meter run. Conley delivered on the promise, taking the lead on lap seven and opening a huge gap on the rest of the field. Conley seemed to be struggling at the end, but her lead was big enough to give her the win with a time of 8:48.35. Just two weeks ago, Conley set a personal best in the mile at the Armory with a time of 4:24.54. Despite a dominant season thus far, Conley says it’s time to focus on outdoor track where she specializes in the 5k and 10k.
Olympian Maria Michta captured the National Championship in the women's USA 1-mile Walk, crossing the line in an even 6:19. Canadian Rachel Seaman of the New York Athletic Club set a national record, finishing first in 6:17.29.
The Men’s USATF Championship Mile Walk race was won by Andreas Gustafsson of Sweden in a time of 5:34.45. The National Champion title goes to Jonathan Hallman of the Shore Athletic Club who crossed in 6:07.32.
On the field, American Mark Hollis, who won the pole vault the last time it was contested at the Millrose Games in 2010, was victorious again Saturday with a vault of 5.6m/18.4ft. The U.S. also swept the weight throws with Gwendolyn Berry turning in a throw of 23.86m/78.2ft and Thomas Freeman taking the men’s competition with his toss of 22.22m/72.9ft.
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The USA Indoor Championship Series culminates in Albuquerque, N.M., next weekend with the USA Track & Field Indoor National Championships Feb. 21-23.
Contributed by Jason Holder