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Lagat Shatters U.S. Indoor 5,000m Record

Matt Centrowitz wins Wannamaker Mile.

Matt Centrowitz wins Wannamaker Mile.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

NEW YORK — It was a record-breaking night at the New Balance Track and Field Center at the Armory on Saturday night, with athletes setting American, collegiate and high school records on the fast 200m track. It was the first edition of the 105-year-old Millrose Games to be held in the Armory.

In the men’s 5,000 meters, 37-year-old Bernard Lagat broke the U.S. indoor mark for that distance, running 13:07.15, a substantial improvement of four seconds over the previous record held by rival Galen Rupp, who broke Lagat’s 2-mile record in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday  night.

“We came here with one aim,” a beaming Lagat told the press immediately after the race. “And that is to the break the American record.”

Lagat used the word “we” because he contends the record would not have been possible without the support of his coach, University of Arizona’s James Li, as well as Arizona freshman Lawi Lalang, who won the NCAA Cross Country title last November and ran close on Lagat’s heels Saturday night.

“I felt really strong coming in,” Lagat admitted. “The race was executed so well. The pacemakers in front of me did a great job. It was a team effort tonight.”

With his second-place showing in 13:08.28, Lalang broke the American collegiate record that had been held by Galen Rupp since 2009.

Coach Li was thrilled with his athletes’ results and later shared that he had predicted Lagat’s record, showing the press a piece of paper with Lagat’s predicted splits that he had written on the plane ride out to New York City.

“We planned a 13:07 to a tee and that’s what we did,” Li stated.

Back in eighth place, Edward Cheserek, a Kenyan who attends St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., became the first high school student in the United States to break 14:00 for 5,000m indoors, clocking 13:57.04.

But the 5,000 wasn’t the only race where records fell. In the famed NYRR Wanamaker Mile, the final event of the evening, Matthew Centrowitz set a new Armory record in his professional debut as a miler, running 3:53.92, the fastest time by an American this indoor season.

“It felt good,” the former University of Oregon Duck and reigning world bronze medalist in the 1,500 meters said afterwards. “I didn’t look back until the last lap when I made my move.”

Centrowitz’s win was hard-fought with Brigham Young University standout Miles Batty pushing him all the way to the tape. Batty took second in 3:54.54, a new collegiate record, toppling German Fernandez’s previous mark of 3:55.02. Garrett Heath took third in 3:55.24.

“There was more bumping than I expected,” Batty explained. “I just tried to stay relaxed when the real race began at 800m.”

In an impressive show of depth, eight men broke 3:58, including six collegians: Batty, Silas Kisorio of Oklahoma Christian (3:55.84), Erik Van Ingen of SUNY Binghamton (3:56.37), Chris O’Hare of the University of Tulsa (3:56.63), Cam Levins of Southern Utah (3:57.16), and David McCarthy of Providence College (3:57.86).

In the NYRR Wanamaker Metric Mile for women, reigning 1,500m world champion Jenny Simpson held off Shannon Rowbury to win the 1500m race in a world-leading 4:07.27. Rowbury clocked 4:07.66, and Spain’s Isabel Macias finished third in 4:08.80.

“I’m happy with the race,” Simpson said. “I was able to close well. My tactics paid off.”

Other winners tonight included Morgan Uceny in the women’s 800m (2:03.35), Samantha Nadel of North Shore High School in the girl’s mile (4:46.19), and Zavon Watkins of Liverpool, N.Y., in the boy’s mile (4:13.83). Sanya Richard-Ross ran a world-leading 50.89 in the 400m and Jesse Williams jumped an Armory record 2.32m in the high jump.