ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat
was the victor in his highly-anticipated Nike Men’s 3,000 meter race against 2008 Olympian Galen Rupp
at the 2011 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships presented by BMW in Albuquerque, N.M.
The third and final event of the USA Track & Field 2011 Indoor Visa Championship Series, the USA Indoor Championships will be televised live on Sunday, February 27, from 4:30 - 6 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN. The meet is also being webcast at www.usatf.org in partnership with RunnerSpace.com. The free webcast will run from 11:30 – 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Lagat runs away in final lap
Lagat, who won last year’s U.S. Indoor title in 8:12.60, was even with Rupp with three laps to go before Rupp grabbed the lead with 2 ½ laps remaining. Lagat turned on his patented kick with 1 ½ laps to go and continued to lengthen his lead throughout the remainder of the race, finishing first in 7:57.17.
"I didn't have a lot of strategies,” said Lagat. “I wanted to sit back and watch the race and feel the race. I wanted to stay near the front position so I wouldn't get boxed in. I waited, and then I went. I knew (Brent) Vaughn was a front-runner. For me to race against him was really special...I'm not under pressure. I just have to run and run hard."
Rupp, who earlier this month set the U.S. 5,000m record for the second time in his career, was the runner-up in 7:59.91. Aaron Braun
, who earlier in the race held the lead for a number of laps, finished third in 8:02.59, and 2011 USA Cross Country champion Brent Vaughn
was fourth in 8:09.45.
Simpson takes first USA Indoor title
Jennifer Barringer Simpson
and Sara Hall
ran stride for stride through much of the 3,000m race. With 100m left to go, Simpson pulled ahead of Hall and headed down the final straight away with a strong kick. Crossing the finish line with her fists pumping in the air, Simpson claimed her first national indoor title in 9:02.20, proving that she is back in her collegiate-form after struggling with injury during her first season as a professional athlete in 2010.
“When I looked at the screen, it felt good. I'm back,” Simpson said. “I missed the whole season last year. It was hard for me to go seven or eight months without racing. I needed to get back into the routine of it and show what I'm capable of.”
Hall repeated her runner-up performance of 2010, clocking a time of 9:03.91. After running to a 4th place finish at last week’s NACAC Cross Country Championships, Allie Kieffer
made a quick transition to the track to claim third place in 9:35.89.
Campbell tosses way to title
Defending Indoor Visa Champion, Amber Campbell
retained her lead in the standings with 1178 points as she earned her fifth consecutive indoor title in the weight throw. Campbell threw six consistent throws, with less than a foot of variance, and twice threw her winning mark of 24.21/79-5.25. Loree Smith
stepped into the ring decked out in a colorful” Wonder Woman” inspired outfit to deliver the second place throw of 22.11/79-5.25 on her last attempt.
Williams wins men’s high jump
Reigning USA Indoor and Outdoor men’s high jump champion Jesse Williams
continued his winning ways in Albuquerque with his clearance of 2.28 meters/7-5.75.
Williams, who ended the 2010 season ranked #2 in the world (#1 U.S.) by Track & Field News, narrowly defeated 2004 Olympic Games fourth-place finisher and 2004 U.S. Indoor champ Jamie Nieto
, who finished second by clearing 2.25m/7-4.50.
Mississippi State standout James Harris
finished third by clearing 2.25m/7-4.50, and 2009 World Outdoor Championships team member Keith Moffatt
placed fourth with a best of 2.22m/7-3.25.
Welsch secures third triple jump title
Adding a third crown to her 2008 and 2009 titles, Shakeema Welsch
leapt to the win with a mark of 13.66/44-09.75 on her fifth attempt. After Welsch, the current U.S. leader, opened the series in fourth place, she fouled on her next two jumps before she rebounded with three solid attempts. Amanda Smock finished in second with a jump of 13.63/44-08.75, while Toni Smith rounded out the top three with a mark of 13.62/44-08.25 set on her first attempt.
Hollis wins first U.S. Indoor title
2010 U.S. Outdoor champion Mark Hollis
had little difficulty in posting his first ever national indoor pole vault title.
Hollis, who finished seventh here last year, cleared 5.60 meters/18 feet 4.50 inches for the victory, which easily surpassed runner-up and 2009 NCAA Outdoor champion Jason Colwick’s
best of 5.40m/17-8.50. Rory Quiller finished third, equaling Colwick’s best clearance. USA Outdoor record holder Brad Walker
and 2010 NCAA Outdoor champion Jordan Scott
each failed to clear a height.
Bullock jumps to first title in high jump
, a former standout at the University of Nebraska, earned her first USA title with a leap of 1.86/6-01.25. Bullock sailed to her win with only one miss at the opening height. Rebecca Christensen
claimed the runner-up spot with a clearance of 1.83/6-0.
Freeman wins first career weight throw title
, who won his first U.S. Outdoor hammer throw title in twelve tries last year, captured his first USA Indoor men’s 35-pound weight throw title with his third round toss of 24.08m/79-00. A member of the U.S. squad that competed at the 2009 World Outdoor Championships in Berlin, Freeman finished ahead of runner-up and six-time U.S. Indoor champion A.G. Kruger
, who had a top heave of 23.73m/77-10.25.
Kruger finished just ahead of 2009 World Outdoor Championships team member Michael Mai
, whose third-round toss of 23.72m/77-10 was his best of the competition. Garland Porter
finished fourth with a toss of 22.85m/74-11.25.
Seaman denied race walk title
Twelve-time USA Indoor 5,000m race walk champion Tim Seaman
had a comfortable lead and was on his way to yet another title when he was disqualified from the competition with two laps remaining.
Seaman’s misfortune opened the door for Patrick Stroupe
to capture his first U.S. Indoor crown in 12 minutes 31.24 seconds. Dan Serianni was the runner-up in 13:08.85 and Alejandor Chavez was third in 13:12.58.
Michta walks down second 3,000m title
improved her time from her 2010 championship performance by 11 seconds to take her second consecutive title in a time of 13:40.52. Erin Bresnahan
finished second in a time of 14:22.55.
In qualifying action on Saturday, Mark Husted
posted the fastest time in the 800 meters of 1:49.51 and Michael Courtney
had the fastest time in the 400m of 46.94. Phoebe Wright
cruised to an easy win in 2:03.99 for the women’s 800m and Natasha Hastings
clocked the fastest time in the women’s 400m with a time of 52.06.
In masters 60m hurdles action, Mike Godbout
won the men’s event in 8.11 seconds, with Derek Pye
the runner-up in 8.19 and Darnell Gatling
finishing third in 8.74. The women’s race was won by Amanda Scotti
in 8.69 seconds, with Daphne Sluys
finishing second in 8.87 and Brenda Matthews
third in 8.96. The 2011 USA Masters Track & Field Championships will take place in Albuquerque, March 4-6.
The Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with the New Mexico Sports Authority, the University of New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque and USATF New Mexico, are the official hosts for the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, which were held in Albuquerque in 2010 and will return in 2012.
For more information on the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, the 2011 Visa Championship Series and USA Track & Field, visit: www.visachampionships.com