Eugene, Ore., lived up to its nickname of Track Town USA, as Americans posted some of the top all-time national performances.
The 2009 Nike Prefontaine Classic turned out to be the most exciting domestic Grand Prix of the year. Eugene truly defined itself as Track Town USA, as Americans shined at the final meet before the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships in two weeks. Leading the way were long jumper Dwight Phillips and distance star Jenny Barringer (who is still in college!). Let’s roll with the highlights:
- In the men’s long jump American Dwight Phillips won the battle against Panamanian Olympic champion Irving Saladino, setting a new personal best of 8.74m/28ft 8.25in. The jump was the longest since Mike Powell set the world record in 1991 and ranks as the fifth best all-time.
- The women’s 1500 meters looked like a runaway victory for Gelete Burka of Ethiopia, as she led virtually the entire race behind the rabbits. With 100 meters to go, however, American collegiate and national steeplechase record holder Jenny Barringer put on a serious charge and caught Burka at the line. The lean at the tape gave Burka (3:59.89) the victory, but Barringer (3:59.90) not only broke the collegiate record but also became only the third American woman in history to break 4:00. Anna Willard (4:01.44) and Christin Wurth-Thomas (4:01.72) ran the seventh and eighth fastest times in American history.
- American double world champion Bernard Lagat held off steeplechase world record holder Saif Shaheen of Qatar to take the title in the men’s 3000 meters. The real story went on just behind them as Americans Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp outckicked some top international talent to take third and fourth respectively. Hold on…did I just say Americans took three of the top four spots in the most competitve domestic distance race of the year so far?!?!
- Missing only former world champion Felix Sanchez, the men’s 400 meter hurdles may as well have been a dress rehearsal for the world championship race. With about 100 meters to go it was a virtual dead heat between American Olympic medalists Bershawn “Batman” Jackson, Angelo Taylor, and Kerron Clement and world leader Isa Phillips of Jamaica. Batman (48.38) used a strong final two hurdles to hold off the field as Phillips (48.55) and Clement (48.73) outlasted Taylor (48.79) down the stretch.
- The final event of the night, the men’s “Bowerman” mile, saw thirteen sub-4:00 performances and a bit of Usain Bolt-style showboating by winner Asbel Kiprop (3:48.50). Before even taking the lead Kiprop had already begun displaying the sign of the cross and waving to the crowd as he barely outkicked countryman Haron Keitany (3:48.78). But Kiprop is the class of the world right now and he probably could have made a balloon animal for Keitany and still beaten him.
For More: USATF Recap