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Schneider’s personal best, Worlds qualifying mark highlights USATF Distance Classic


Pasadena, California — Rachel Schneider led four women under the World Championships qualifying standard and recorded the fastest outdoor time of the year in the 5,000m at the 10th USATF Distance Classic Thursday at Occidental College.

Running behind the excellent pacing of reigning steeplechase World Champion Emma Coburn for the first 10 laps, Schneider (Sanford, Maine) smashed her lifetime best and achieved an Olympic qualifying standard with her world-leading 15:06.71 in the women’s 5,000m to stave off Jamaican Aisha Praught-Leer, who set a national record of 15:07.50. Lauren Paquette (Memphis, Tennessee) was third at 15:14.64, just off her PR, and USATF Half Marathon champion Stephanie Bruce (Flagstaff, Arizona) destroyed her personal best in fourth at 15:17.76. Those four all came through 3,000m in under 9:10 and made the most of the good conditions to hammer home over the last five circuits.

The man with the fastest PR in the men’s 5,000m field, Lawi Lalang (Colorado Springs, Colorado) bided his time behind the pacesetters until taking over the lead for good with four laps to go, and then dominated the last mile to win in 13:25.14. A two-time NCAA outdoor 5,000m champion for Arizona, Lalang won by more than three seconds over Britain’s Josh Kerr, the NCAA 1,500m record holder at the University of New Mexico, and Henry Wynne (Seattle, Washington) claimed third in 13:32.33.

In the women’s 1,500m, USATF Road Mile champion Nikki Hiltz (San Diego, California) clipped almost two seconds off her lifetime best to win heat two, sprinting away down the stretch to stop the clock at 4:07.71. Hiltz, who was second in the NCAA 1,500m last year for Arkansas, sat in fourth at the bell and made a long and steady push for the front heading into the final bend. Four-time NCAA indoor and outdoor 5,000m champion Karissa Schweizer (Portland, Oregon) held on to take second in 4:08.51, while Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen, doubling back from the 800m earlier, was third in 4:09.16 as six women broke 4:10.

American steeplechase record holder Courtney Frerichs (Portland, Oregon) showed some sharpness at half her usual distance, making a strong move off the final curve to win section one in 4:15.96, her second-fastest time ever. Dana Mecke (San Antonio, Texas) ran aggressively and held the lead at the bell, extending it to five meters over the next half-lap, but couldn’t hold off Frerichs and fast-closing Jenna Hinkle (San Jose, California), who edged her for second in 4:16.45. Mecke was third in 4:16.98.

Sweden's 2017 European Indoor silver medalist Kalle Berglund surged to the front going into the final lap and kept that lead through the tape to win the men’s fast section of the 1,500m in 3:37.84 ahead of Kirubel Erassa (Colorado Springs, Colorado), the top U.S. outdoor 5,000m runner this season. Erassa closed in 56.50 on the final lap to clock a personal best 3:38.26. USATF Indoors two-mile winner Drew Hunter (Boulder, Colorado) had a speedy finish to take third in 3:38.55, with Germany’s Sam Parsons and NCAA 5,000m champ Sean McGorty (Beaverton, Oregon) also dipping under 3:39.

In the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, Courtney Barnes (Flagstaff, Arizona), who as Courtney Coppinger finished seventh in the 2018 NCAA 3,000m steeplechase for Kansas, let Canada’s Maria Bernard-Galea and Jessica Furlan make the pace for six laps before cranking up her tempo over the final 700m and winning by almost six seconds in 9:59.82.

On the men’s side, last year’s USATF fifth-placer Jordan Mann (Providence, Rhode Island) ran to his second-fastest time ever, pulling away over the final three barriers to cross the line at 8:30.99. Mann, the 2018 NACAC bronze medalist, was eighth with four laps to go as David Goodman (Longmont, Colorado) and Canadian John Gay led the field. He moved up to third after the sixth lap and was just behind Gay until he made his decisive move on the final backstretch. Franklin Tonui (Colorado Springs, Colorado) (8:32.02) and Mason Ferlic (Ann Arbor, Michigan) (8:32.24) finished second and third with season bests.

Kate Grace (Portland, Oregon) waited until she hit the homestretch to move to the lead in the 800m, and the 2016 Olympic eighth-placer pulled away from Cory McGee (Brighton, Massachusetts) and Canada’s Samantha Murphy to win the final section in 2:02.95 in her 2019 debut at the distance. Sweden’s Hanna Hermansson finished well to claim second in 2:03.21, with McGee just behind at 2:03.35.

In the first heat of men’s 800m, after biding his time in the middle of the pack for the first lap and a half, Brannon Kidder (Seattle, Washington) sprinted to the front with 50m remaining and ran on to win the first section in 1:47.17. Last year’s World Indoor 800m silver medalist Drew Windle (Seattle, Washington) had the lead for the first 700m ahead of Britain’s Kyle Langford, who was fourth at the World Championships two years ago, but couldn’t hold on and ended up fourth behind Langford and Drew Piazza (Eugene, Oregon).

In the second heat of the 800m, Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy (Beaverton, Oregon) was sixth through the first 400m of the second section, and then moved up to second behind Puerto Rico’s sub-1:45 man Ryan Sanchez over the next 200m. Running off the shoulder of Sanchez off the curve, Murphy edged ahead in the final 20m and came away with the win in 1:46.10, .11 ahead of Sanchez. Craig Engels (Portland, Oregon) came away with a third-place finish in 1:46.73.

Full results can be found here.

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