NEW YORK CITY -- On a day filled with stunning performances at the The Armory’s New Balance Track & Field Center, Olympians Courtney Okolo and Ajee’ Wilson set themselves apart from the crowd with American indoor records at the 110th NYRR Millrose Games Saturday.
Okolo (Carrollton, Texas) shattered the American record in the women’s 500m indoors Saturday, winning in 1:07.34 to break the seven-year-old mark of Shana Cox (1:08.70). It was Okolo’s race from the gun, besting the field by over two seconds.
In the 800m, Wilson (Neptune, New Jersey) set a new American indoor record with a flawless race, pushed by Charlene Lipsey who also dipped under the previous American indoor record of 1:58.71 (Nicole Teter, 2002). Wilson was patient over the first 400m and took the lead with the bell lap remaining, kicking hard to break the American record in 1:58.27. Lipsey also finished under the previous U.S. best, finishing just behind Wilson in 1:58.64.
Kate Grace ran her way into the record books Saturday, finishing second in the women’s Wanamaker Mile in 4:22.93, the fourth-fastest indoor mile in U.S. history. Grace, two-time NYRR Wanamaker Mile champion Shannon Rowbury and Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands stayed packed together for much of the race, but it was all Hassan with two laps remaining. Hassan finished in a meet record 4:19.89, while Grace passed Rowbury on the bell lap to finish in 4:22.93. Rowbury was third in 4:23.05.
There would be a new men’s Wanamaker Mile champion in 2017, and Eric Jenkins was up to the challenge. Jenkins, Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and men’s DMR world record holder Kyle Merber challenged early and separated themselves from the field with two laps to go. Merber took off on the bell lap and tried to put space between himself and Jenkins, but the NYRR 5th Avenue Mile champion surged with 150m to go and didn’t look back, winning in 3:53.23.
Olympic gold medalist and three-time NYRR Wanamaker Mile champion Matthew Centrowitz stepped up in distance in the Paavo Nurmi 2-Mile, facing stiff competition from a stacked field that included compatriots Ben True, Ryan Hill, as well as Great Britain’s Andrew Butchart and Canadian Olympian Mo Ahmed. The field continued to spread out after the rabbits stepped off the track, and it was the foursome of Hill, True, Butchart and Ahmed who set themselves apart. Hill led the final lap and looked to be surging toward the finish line, but the World Indoor silver medalist stumbled with less than five meters remaining and True passed him for the victory, winning in 8:11.33.
Rio Olympian Sydney McLaughlin fell just short of her goal to break the national high school record in the 300m, but set a new personal best in the event with her fourth-place finish in 37.09, bettering her place in the U.S. high school record books. Team USA Olympians finished 2-3-4 in the race, with Olympic 400H bronze medalist Ashley Spencer finishing in the runner-up spot in 36.27, and Olympic 4x400m gold medalist Natasha Hastings crossing third in 36.88. The U.S. high school record for 300 meters is still 36.96 (Francena McCorory, 2006).
The short sprints were good to USATF athletes, as Dezerea Bryant and Clayton Vaughn swept the 60m titles Saturday. Bryant returned to form and took the win over Olympic gold medalists Morolake Akinosun and Tianna Bartoletta, winning in 7.12. Vaughn edged Olympian Mike Rodgers at the line, both finishing in 6.62, but Vaughn won by three-thousandths of a second. U.S. athletes also took home middle-distance victories in the men’s 500m and 1000m, as Vernon Norwood won the men’s 500m wire-to-wire in 1:00.11, and Brannon Kidder took the upset in the men’s 1000m, crossing the finish tape in 2:19.92 over 600m indoor world record holder and Beasts TC teammate Casimir Loxsom (2:21.06).
Sandi Morris and Katerina Stefanidi renewed their pole vault rivalry from Rio, as Stefanidi edged Morris once again, clearing 4.82m/15-9.75 on Saturday to Morris’s 4.72m/15-5.75. During the USATF.TV +PLUS coverage window earlier in the day, pole vault phenom Armand Duplantis of Sweden set a world junior record with his clearance of 5.75m/18-10.75 in the Flying Circus Pole Vault. He bettered his own pending world junior record, set just last weekend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (5.72m).
In the USATF 1 Mile Race Walk Championship, Maria Michta-Coffey claimed yet another victory, crossing the finish in 6:31.85. Michta-Coffey took home her third straight and fourth overall USATF title at the NYRR Millrose Games, having won in 2015 and 2016 after picking up her first title in 2013. On the men’s side, it was Jonathan Hallman of Shore AC who won the Susan Rudin Men’s 1 Mile Race Walk, passing Emmanuel Corvera with two laps remaining to win in 6:15.49.
Any races from within the TV window can be viewed on demand on USATF.TV +PLUS beginning at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 12. Additionally, all events from earlier in the day are available now on demand on USATF.TV +PLUS.
The USATF Indoor Championships, March 3-5 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are the final stop of the USATF Championship Series for the indoor season. Fans can follow along on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook using #USATFindoors.