LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Numerous personal bests and top American times were registered on a steamy Thursday evening at the USATF High Performance Distance Classic at Jack Kemp Stadium on the campus of Occidental College. Fans can watch live event replays available immediately on USATF.tv.
Dan Huling started the meet off with a bang, breaking the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase meet record in 8:17.00, turning in the fastest time for an American in the event this year. His time also set a Jack Kemp Stadium record as well, besting Don Cabral’s 8:19.14 from 2012.
Brenda Martinez, a member of the women’s 4x800-meter relay pool for the IAAF World Relays, had an impressive kick in her timed final to edge Maggie Vessey in 1:59.91. Vessey crossed in 1:59.96. The second timed final was equally exciting, as Kate Grace, also on Team USA for Nassau, kicked from fourth to first in the final 100 meters to win the second section of the 800 in 2:01.57.
The men’s 800 was exciting as well, as Elijah Greer from Nike Oregon Track Club Elite, just a year removed from his NCAA title in the event, crossed in 1:45.86 to win his section and overall. The top seven times all came from the first timed section, as Felix Kitur finished second in 1:46.10 and Robby Andrews, who is competing at World Relays for the U.S., was third in 1:46.37.
Matt Centrowitz made it look easy Thursday night, turning in the fastest 1,500m time for an American this year in 3:35.45. Pat Casey, who is in the pool for the men’s 4x1500m relay for the IAAF World Relays, finished second in the heat and overall in 3:35.95.
Kim Conley, fresh off her 4:11.09 finish in the women’s 1,500m, paced the first 3,000m of the women’s 5,000m, the final women’s race of the evening. Shannon Rowbury, Buze Diriba and Jordan Hasay utilized Conley’s pace and broke away from the pack early on. Constantly trading the lead over the final 2k, Rowbury made her move just before the bell lap and held on for the win, crossing in 15:20.90. Hasay looked to make her move with just a couple laps remaining but stayed close for third, turning in a new PR in 15:29.63.
Galen Rupp and Australia’s Collis Birmingham put on a show in the men’s 5,000 meters, staying in the lead pack for nearly the entire race until the final two laps. Rupp made his move with about 600 meters to go but Birmingham stayed with him and overtook Rupp with about 200 meters to go to win in 13:18.57. Rupp held off a surging Nick Willis to finish second in 13:19.60.
The first event of the evening was the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, where UMKC’s Courtney Frerichs won in 9:53.61, a new personal best.
The mission of the meet is to provide an outstanding competitive opportunity for America’s elite middle & long distance runners and optimal racing conditions for them to attain IAAF World Championships and Olympic Games qualifying standards. Last year, the USATF High Performance Distance Classic produced an American Junior Record, two meet records, and 12 “A” and 34 “B” qualifying standards for the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow. A total of 56 athletes set new personal bests.
The next USATF.tv broadcast is Saturday, May 17 as the Manchester CityGames air live at 8 a.m. ET. The Manchester CityGames provides a unique opportunity for fans to see the world’s best compete in an urban environment. In its sixth year, the event takes place on the Great CityGames track on Deansgate in the heart of Manchester, as well as at the athletics arena in Albert Square. A crowd of 20,000 is expected and fans can follow along on social platforms with the hashtag #GCGM2014.