EUGENE—Sure, Washington State alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) continues to amaze competitors half his age, as he ran 13:14.97 to finish fourth in the men’s 5000 meters on the opening evening of competition at the Nike Prefontaine Classic at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon, but if you weren’t watching the earlier events, you missed some big surprises from Phoebe Wright and McKayla Fricker.
In what was billed as the USATF High Performance 800 featuring a domestic field, Wright, who is one of two non-Brooks sponsored athletes training with Danny Mackey’s Brooks Beasts, scored a season best of 2:00.79 to finish second behind two-time world championships competitor Maggie Vessey, who ran 2:00.07.
Wright’s mark puts her underneath the world championships and Olympic Games standard of 2:01.00
In a tribute to the depth of this race, Seattle Pacific alum McKayla Fricker made yet another step towards becoming one of this country’s elite at this distance, setting yet another personal best of 2:01.64, topping her 2:03.21 from the Mt. SAC meet last month, and an eternity from her previous best of 2:06.18, set in winning the NCAA Division II title last year.
Fricker is now at the doorstep of getting the world championship and Olympic standard as well.
About Lagat—the 40 year old wunderkind got his world and Olympic qualifying mark out of the way in finishing fourth in the 5000 at 13:14.97, as reigning world junior champ Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia wn in a personal best of 13:10.54.
Running in his first outdoor 5000 this season, he told Ken Goe of the Oregonian, "Being my first race (of the season), I didn't know how it was going to be.”
"I realized I was in good shape. The only thing I need to do is make sure I fine tune it, so when I get to U.S. Nationals, I'll be back here feeling strong and fast."
The meet continues Saturday, beginning at 12:00 noon with TV coverage starting at 12:30 on NBCSN (626 on Comcast/Seattle), before moving to NBC at 1:30 pm.