ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico--Washington State University hall of fame member Bernard Lagat (above/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com) won yet another USA national indoor 3000 meter title at the Albuquerque Convention Center, using his patented kick to clinch a ticket to Sopot, Poland for the IAAF world indoor championships in two weeks.
As is his trade mark, Lagat stayed near the front, letting others, most notably Andrew Bumbalough, Ryan Hill and Lopez Lomong do the work until the 2400 mark, when he shot from about fourth place along with Galen Rupp.
On the last lap, Lagat swung wide and maintained his speed, despite having to dodge lapped runners to take the victory in a time of 7:46.01, the fastest time run by an American at the US indoor championships (Moses Kiptanui of Kenya has the meet record of 7:42.81 from 1994 when foreign athletes were eligible to run in the US indoor meet).
“My thoughts going into Poland as a defending champion, I want to see if I can do it again. I have the confidence. I've been doing good training right now. What I have to do is do what exactly what I did tonight. This is like a championship race. That is exactly the time that wins the championships. If I run smart and I keep an eye on the guys that are tough - the few Ethiopians I have been watching and the Kenyans - I think I will be safe. I'm going to use that strategy I used tonight to make sure that I get the gold medal in Poland.”
Courtesy of usatf.tv and media partner Runnerspace.com, here is video of the race:
In the women's 3000, pending the outcome of a protest lodged by Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar stating that winner Gabriele Grunewald (9:23.15) made contact with fourth place finisher Jordan Hasay (the results web site states "Result will be officially posted on Sunday"), Angela Bizzarri of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts was fifth in 9:30.45, and teammate Jessica Tebo seventh in 9:32.56.
Gonzaga alum Lindsey Drake was tenth in 9:50.56, while Brooks Beast Jamie Cheever was 12th in 9:53.04.
In field event finals, UW alum Norris Frederick finished seventh in the long jump with a mark of 24-8.5 (7.53m). Club Northwest's Levi Keller and Ryan Brown tied for tenth in the pole vault with a jump of 17-4.5 (5.30m). University Place native Andrea Geubelle was third in the long jump with a best of 21-8.25 (6.61m).
In the men's 800 semis, Mark Wieczorek (1:48.28) and Nick Symmonds (1:48.79) of the Brooks Beasts won their heats to advance to Sunday's finals, while teammate Cas Loxsom was third in his heat in 1:49.05 and didn't' advance.
Symmonds said, "(The race) went out probably as expected. It was a little more crowded than I would have hoped, but I just wanted to key up Brian Gagnon, so I did that and got around him. I don’t know who the kid was pushing the 50 meters, but he dug deep and it was tough to get by him."
“Erik Sowinski looks really, really good, so he’ll hopefully go for a ride. I don’t know if I can beat him right now. He’s a good indoor runner, but I’m going to try to see if I can sneak by him in the last 50.”
Phoebe Wright, a Nike runner who trains with the Beasts, ran 2:03.78 to finish second in her heat of the women's 800 and advance to Sunday's finals, while Erica Moore of the Beasts was second in her heat in 2:05.98, but did not advance to the final.
Results from the USA Indoor championships are available here. Sunday's competition will be shown live on Universal Sports from 11-1230p, pacific, then switch over to NBCSN (channel 626 on Seattle Comcast) from 1230p-2pm.