Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bernard Lagat wins first USA indoor title and earns trip to world indoor championships...

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico--Bernard Lagat's (left/photo by Paul Merca) uncanny kick with 150 meters remaining was the difference between winning and losing in a highly competitive men's 3,000m race as the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships opened in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The 2007 World Outdoor Championships 1,500m and 5,000m gold medalist, Lagat was in a heated battle throughout with 2008 Olympic Games and 2009 World Outdoor Championships 10,000m finalist Galen Rupp and 2009 USA Outdoor Championships 5,000m runner-up Chris Solinsky in the mix the entire way.

Lagat, the Washington State University graduate who owns U.S. Indoor records in the 5,000m, 1,500m, mile and 3,000m, captured the first U.S. Indoor title of his career in crossing the finish line first in a modest 8:12.60 in the nearly mile-high altitude of Albuquerque.

"I didn't know how I was going to feel with the altitude. I actually didn't feel anything after about five laps. I just wanted to have fun. I was running on the inside. I wanted to be able to keep an eye on who was going to make a move. I just wanted to win and make the team. I wanted to maintain the lead. I wanted to make sure I was going to be number one. I wanted to win and make the team. That is what I came here for."

Lagat and Rupp will head to Doha, Qatar in two weeks for the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships as members of Team USA.

Rupp finished as the runner-up in 8:13.49, with Solinsky placing third in 8:13.45.

In other events, Ft. Lewis's Michael Mai finished fourth in the 35-pound weight throw, with a toss of 77-8/23.67m; former Washington Husky Norris Frederick finished eighth in the men's high jump at 7-1.5/2.17m; and former Husky Ryan Brown failed to advance out of the qualifying round of the men's 800, running 1:51.48 for third in his heat.

The USA Indoor championships continue on Sunday, with television coverage on ESPN2 beginning at 4 pm, pacific time.

Day 1 results can be accessed here, and start lists for day 2 can be accessed here.

NOTE: Tom Surber of USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

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