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Fast times “rain” at HOKA ONE ONE Middle Distance Classic


LOS ANGELES, California -- Southern California broke its drought Thursday night with a downpour, lightning and even a touch of hail. But before the heavens opened, American middle-distance runners turned in brisk and competitive early-season performances at the HOKA ONE ONE Middle Distance Classic, the second stop outdoors of the 2015 USATF Championship Series.

Steeple success

The first races of the night, in the steeplechase, produced six performances that qualified for the 2015 IAAF World Championships. For the women, Stephanie Garcia ran alone in front after the pacesetter dropped off 7 minutes into the race, finishing strong in 9:37.19 to set a meet and stadium record by more than four seconds. Ashley Higginson was second in 9:41.27 and Genevieve Lalonde third in 9:42.40 to post qualifiers under the IAAF A standard of 9:44.00.

Three men also posted qualifiers in the men’s steeplechase, with Matt Hughes of Canada first in  8:25.54 and Taylor Milne, also of Canada, second in 8:25.72. American Travis Mahoney was third in 8:27.08 to dip under the A standard of 8:28.00.

Great 8s

The first heat of the men’s 800 was largely a two-man race between indoor 600m American record holder Casimir Loxsom and 2011 World Outdoor bronze medalist Matt Centrowitz. But coming off the curve, the pack caught up quickly. Tying up near the finish, Loxsom was able to hold off the field to win in 1:46.23, with Centro second in 1:46.55 and Charles Jock third in 1:46.55. Ryan Martin won the second heat in 1:46.37 to post the second-fastest time of the night overall.

The women’s 800 meters featured two-lap specialists as well as athletes stepping down in distance. The second of four heats pitted 2011 world 1,500m champion Jenny Simpson against Maggie Vessey. Traditionally a come-from-behind runner, Vessey was in the lead after the first lap and split 1:27.8 for 600m, but Simpson began moving with 250 meters to go and gradually closed the gap on Vessey for a two-woman race down the stretch. Vessey held off Simpson to win in 2:00.70, with Simpson second in 2:00.79.

In heat 1, after coming through 400m in 58.3, 2014 World Indoor champion Chanelle Price was in the lead. Steps from the finish, four-time USATF outdoor 1,500m champion Treniere Moser’s strength took over as she moved up to win in 2:01.67, with Geena Lara second in 2:01.87 and Latavia Thomas third in 2:01.89. Price also broke 2:02, placing fourth in 2:01.99. Price already has the IAAF A standard heading into the 2015 outdoor season.

1,500s close out the night

Katie Mackey (4:07.51) and Gabriele Grunewald (4:07.67) went 1-2 in the first heat of the women’s 1,500. Sarah Brown ran 4:09.00 to win the second heat and turn in the third-fastest time of the meet.

Wheating and Manzano ran in heat 1 with a field that stayed together. Manzano hit it with 250 left and Asawi following on his shoulder. Leo turned it on down the stretch, but Wheating came storming back. Leo crossed the line first in 3:39.96 with Wheating in second (3:39.56) in a race that saw nine men run 3:40 or faster.

A heavy downpour hit as Manzano stormed down the track. The meet was then put on a 30-minute hiatus as lightning moved into the area, but the hiatus eventually became a cancellation of the event when heavy rain and lightning continued for more than an hour. The final two heats of the men’s 1,500 and the men’s and women’s 5,000 were not contested.

To view the webcast and for results from the HOKA ONE ONE Middle Distance Classic, visit

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