Competing in the two-mile at his 12th Millrose Games, Bernard Lagat was two seconds off his planned pace of 4:04 for the mile, and remained in arrears on his splits for the entire race. Until the end.
Wearing cheetah-patterned spikes “designed” by his daughter Gianna, the 38-year-old Lagat pulled away from American 3000-meter steeplechase record-holder Evan Jager with two laps remaining and, in a gutsy solo effort, reclaimed his indoor American record from Galen Rupp when he broke the tape in 8:09.49. Rupp’s mark, set last year, was 8:09.72.
It wasn’t the only record of the night on the fast oval of the New Balance Track & Field Center in the Armory in the 106th edition of the Millrose Games, either: both the men’s and women’s marks for 600 meters fell, as did the girls’ national high school indoor mile record, the boys’ national indoor two-mile high school record, and the U.S. collegiate indoor mile record.
The Millrose Games serves as the second stop of the 2013 USATF Indoor Championship Series. The event will be broadcast on ESPN on Sunday from 8-10 p.m. ET.
Lagat, the eight-time Wanamaker Mile winner, now holds five indoor American Records: 1500 meters, the mile, 3000 meters, two-mile, and 5000 meters, a mark he set at this same meet last year. He was named Performer of the Meet.
The men’s 600 meters was billed as a record attempt between Olympians Nick Symmonds and Duane Solomon, but it was the unheralded Erik Sowinski who bettered Solomon’s mark of 1:15.70, set earlier this year, when he ran 1:15.61. Sowinski last year set the University of Iowa record for 800 meters.
In the women’s 600 meters, 2012 Olympic 800-meter finalist Alysia Montano flirted with the world record (1:23.44) as she smashed the American Record of 1:26.56 set by Delisa Walton in 1981 with her winning time of 1:23.59.
The first high school mark of the night was set by Mary Cain, who shattered her own three-week-old mile mark of 4:32.78 when she finished second in the women’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile in 4:28.25, which was won by Canada’s Sheila Reid in 4:27.02. That was followed by Edward Cheserek in the two-mile, when he ran 8:39.15 to bring down Gerry Lindgren’s 1964 mark of 8:40.0.
In the men’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile, Lopez Lomong passed defending champion Matthew Centrowitz at the bell and held off the 2011 World Outdoor Championships bronze medalist for the victory, 3:51.21 to 3:51.34. Both times were under Bernard Lagat’s meet record of 3:52.87, set on the slower boards of Madison Square Garden in 2005. Ireland’s Ciaran O’Lionard’s third-place time of 3:52.10 also was under the previous mark. Chris O’Hare of the University of Tulsa, in fourth, broke the collegiate record with his time of 3:52.98.
If this turns out to be Darvis “Doc” Patton’s last year as a pro, the 35-year-old two-time 4x100-meter relay world champion has started it off by making a statement. Patton, 11 years olded than runner-up Gerald Phiri of Zambia, won the men’s 60-meter dash in 6.50 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year, a facility record and a personal best. In the last third of the race, Patton ran away from Phiri, who two weeks ago won the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, for an easy victory, with Phiri finishing in 6.64.
In the women’s 60m dash, the University of Oregon’s English Gardner bested Jeneba Tarmoh 7.19 to 7.22. In 2012, Gardner won both the NCAA 60m and 100m titles.
Jeff Porter took his second-straight 60m hurdles win, edging Andrew Riley 7.59 to 7.60. It was a personal best for Porter, who was raised in nearby Somerset, N.J., and was a member of Team USA at the 2012 Olympic Games. He won the Boston meet on Feb.2 in 7.62. The women’s 60m dash was won by Yvette Lewis, the 2011 Pan American gold medalist in the 100m hurdles, who set a facility record in winning here at 60m in 7.84.
Also notching her second consecutive indoor win was Janay DeLoach—but this time it was back in her specialty, the long jump, after her surprise hurdles victory in Boston. DeLoach, the reigning World Indoor Championships silver medalist, won over Brittney Reese, the 2012 Olympic champion and two-time world champion, with a third-round jump of 6.90m/22-7.75.
2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr won the pole vault with a jump of 4.65m/15-3 over Kylie Hutson on fewer misses, while Inika McPherson surprised Brigetta Barrett in the high jump, defeating the 2012 Olympic silver medalist on misses, with both women jumping 1.87m/6-1.50.
Doc Patton (winner, men’s 60m)
“After last season I just wanted to come back harder than I ever have, and I think this shows that I can. To come here and drop a world leader after 11 years [since he first ran at the Armory] is huge for me. It's the fastest track in the world right now, I’ll take it.”
English Gardner (winner, women’s 60m)
"With the 60, you gotta be fast, quick, out of the blocks — just go.”
Janay DeLoach (winner, women’s long jump)
On defeating Olympic gold medalist Brittney Reese
"We go back and forth all the time. It's good competition. I just need to focus. It wasn't perfect, but I'm going to continue to build. It's a blast out here. The crowd is great. I had a really good time."
Jeff Porter (winner, men’s 60m hurdles)
"It's a homecoming for me. I have a good 20 people here. Any time they can watch me, it's amazing. I'm working on my technique on the blocks. If I'm going to make the [U.S.] team, I'm going to need to have good technique.”
Bernard Lagat (winner, men’s two-mile)
On the last 200 meters
“I was more concerned about getting the time than in winning, because when it comes down to the last two laps, 400 meters, I was going to hold off anybody. When we are doing our training back in November, there is one important race, and that is the Armory.”
Alysia Montano (winner, women’s 600m)
"I definitely thought I was going to make the world record. I'm never running just to be up front. This track is amazing. I loved it. My body feels good. I can see myself here again.”
Mary Wineberg (winner, women’s 400m)
"I want to show people that at my age people can still do this. As long as I'm strong, I can move on. I'm not scared of the race anymore. 33 is the new 21."
Lopez Lomong (winner, men’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile)
"I never ran [in the Millrose Games] before. When I was in high school, I wasn't good enough. It was a blessing to come here and run this time. Someone is going to come and break this record, so I look at the big picture: At the end of the day, we don't run for ourselves but for this great nation of ours. At the end of the day, what we want is U.S. athletes taking home medals."
Contributed by Barbara Huebner.