Sunday, June 7, 2009

Nike Prefontaine Classic--WOW!!!


If I had to describe what I saw at the Nike Prefontaine Classic Sunday in Eugene, Oregon, that would be it!

Today's meet was one of the best Pre Classics that I've attended, considering that this meet is on my list of "must attends" every year.

Meet director Tom Jordan and his staff, along with Nike's John Capriotti deserve a lot of credit for making this meet THE premier track and field meet in North America. This meet is action packed, and well packaged for both the fans in the stands at Historic Hayward Field, as well as for those watching on television, with little dead time.

Where to start?!?

Dwight Phillips was clearly the star of the Prefontaine Classic, as he defeated reigning world and Olympic long jump champion Irving Saladino of Panama.

The former Arizona State star and 2004 Olympic champion popped an unlooked-for 28 feet 8.25 inches (8.74m), which ties him with Larry Myricks and Erick Walder for the eighth-best outdoor mark in history, and the trio are also tied as the #5 performers all time. For his effort, Phillips was named the Team USA Athlete of the Meet presented by Visa."Last week I knew I was jumping far and I was looking at the world record," said Phillips. "I knew I was capable of jumping this far. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. I'm hungry. I'm excited about the sport again."

I talked to Dwight afterwards in the athlete's area, and told him that he'd also earned the prestigious "BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA!" award.

Phillips is now training out of the Atlanta area under former LSU coach Loren Seagrave.

On the oval, reigning double world champion and Washington State grad Bernard Lagat missed the meet record in the 3000m, clocking 7:35.92. Afterwards, Lagat said, "I rested really well since New York. I've just had easy runs and today I was running relaxed. Today's race was good. I felt comfortable the entire way. Winning today was important for my confidence."

Colorado's Jenny Barringer prepped for an NCAA title defense in the steeplechase by dipping under four minutes in the 1500, clocking 3:59.90, and almost running down Ethiopia's Gelete Burka, losing by 1/100th of a second.

Eugene's Nick Symmonds got the crowd going by winning the men's 800 in 1:45.86, with former Eugene resident Christian Smith third in 1:46.36, replicating his third place finish at the Olympic Trials on this very track.

2008 Olympic 400m and 4x400m relay gold medalist LaShawn Merritt was dominant in the men's 300 meters posting the #2 all-time mark and a sea level world best with his winning time of 31.30 seconds.

Reese Hoffa, who was in fourth entering the sixth and final round in the men's shot put, stole the victory from Dan Taylor and Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland with a world-leading mark of 21.89 meters/71 feet 10 inches.

2008 Olympic silver medalist Asbel Kiprop of Kenya won the classic Bowerman Mile in 3:48.50, which is the fastest time in the world this year, bettering the previous fastest time this season by nearly six seconds.

The Bowerman Mile (above/photo of start by Paul Merca) saw thirteen athletes break four minutes in the mile, equaling the stadium record for most runners under four.

In the rarely run 300 meters, Olympic 400m champ LaShawn Merritt clocked 31.30, the second fastest time ever behind Michael Johnson, and a sea-level world best.

Besides Lagat, several other Washingtonians competed, including Olympian Aretha Thurmond, who was fourth in the discus at 197-0/60.04 meters, and former Rainier Beach star Ginnie Powell, who was sixth in the 100-meter hurdles in 13.20.

In the Oregon TC mini-meet held Saturday night, former University of Washington star Ryan Brown won the 800 in 1:46.17, while ex-Husky Bruce Jackson was 7th in the second section at 1:53.83.

Another former Husky, 2008 Olympic marathon trials competitor Mike Sayenko, finished fourth in the 3000m at 8:09.77.

Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler was second in the 1500, running 4:18.89.

Complete results from Saturday's mini-meet are posted here...

I hope that many of you got to follow the occasional tweets we sent during the meet.

The complete results of the Nike Prefontaine Classic are posted here. If you missed the meet, video content is available through our media partner,

Here is the recap...

Hope to have some videos posted in the next day or so.

NOTE: All videos courtesy NBC Sports,, and media partner

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