SEATTLE—Tacoma native Brie Felnagle’s (#11, behind Kate Grace/photo by Paul Merca) move from the Pacific Northwest to Sacramento to train with the Nor Cal Distance Project is already paying dividends as the Bellarmine Prep HS alum and former NCAA champion at the University of North Carolina ran 4:27.27 to win the mile at the UW Invitational Saturday at the Dempsey Indoor on the campus of the University of Washington.
Felnagle was towed to the facility record by training partner and US Olympian Kate Grace, going through the half mile in just a shade under 2:13. Grace continued to lead through the 3/4 mile mile mark before dropping out with one lap to go over the 307-meter Dempsey oval.
Felnagle wasn’t in the clear yet, as Camas’ Alexa Efraimson, the 19 year old wunderkind, tried to make a challenge to knock off the veteran Felnagle, who had perhaps the worst season of her professional career in 2016, as she failed to even qualify for the US Olympic Trials.
On the final lap, the 30-year old Felnagle, who came down from a 4-week training stint at altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona, drew energy from the crowd lining the track and pulled away from Efraimson to win in a 2017 world leading time of 4:27.27, beating her old personal best of 4:29.83 set in 2014, and her indoor PR of 4:32.17 set way back in 2009.
In a post race interview, Felnagle said that drawing the positive energy from her current training group that includes Olympians Grace and Kim Conley has been a large reason for her turnaround in the 2017 season.
The University of Washington’s Colby Gilbert from Vancouver, Washington ran a collegiate leading time and University of Washington school record of 7:45.71 in the men’s 3000, winning that event over Canadian Olympians Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (7:46.22) and Nate Brannen (7:47.18).
Gilbert’s winning time is also currently the fifth fastest time in the world this season and the third fastest by an American this season.
Grace, who announced that she will sign with Nike after being sponsored the last few seasons by Seattle-based Oiselle, came back after pacing Felnagle’s world-leading time in the mile to win the 800 meters in 2:02.29 to set a new meet and facility record, the sixth fastest time in the world so far this season.
The women’s pole vault lived up to its billing as Duke alum Megan Clark, who trains at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, and is sponsored by Seattle-based Oiselle, won with a new facility record of 14-11 (4.55m), the seventh-best mark in the world this season.
In University Park, Pennsylvania, Cas Loxsom of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts set a new world record in the 600 meter run at the Penn State National Open Saturday.
Loxsom, who was pushed by Penn State’s Isaiah Harris, ran 1:14.91, to Harris’s 1:14.96., to break the pending world record of 1:14.97 set last week by Emmanuel Korir of Kenya & UTEP in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The time also beats the low-altitude record of 1:15.12 set by Germany’s Nico Motchebon in 1999.
Loxsom, a Penn State alum, said afterwards, "This is one of my favorite tracks in the world to compete at," Loxsom continued. The crowd was amazing, with so many old friends and Nittany Lion family. Isaiah (Harris) is an incredible athlete and I was thankful to have him in the race to push me. He's a rare talent and it was fitting to showcase the past alongside the future of a program I was so proud to be a part of."
At the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix meet in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts finished seventh in 7:46.34, as Olympic 5000m silver medalist Paul Chelimo of the US Army won in 7:42.39, the fastest time in the world so far this season.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Washington State freshman Sam Brixey broke his own class record in the 60-meter hurdles, running 7.93 to win that event at the New Mexico Team Invitational meet.
Regen Gaffney won the women’s 60 dash in a personal best 7:45, while former Pac-12 pole vault champ Kristine Felix won her specialty in a season best mark of 13-6.25 (4.12m), as the Cougs captured three wins on the day.
NOTE: The University of Washington, Penn State University and Washington State University’s sports information offices contributed to this report.