Ajee’ Wilson Sets American record at 110th NYRR Millrose Games
NEW YORK – Ajee’ Wilson continues to shine at The Armory’s New Balance Track & Field Center, her favorite running venue, winning Saturday’s Women’s 800 meters for the fourth year in a row during the nationally-televised 110th NYRR Millrose Games.
By winning with a 1:58.27 time, the 22-year-old former Neptune High School (N.J.) product, established a new American indoor record before a sold-out Armory crowd in Washington Heights. She eclipsed the 1:58.71 mark set by Nicole Teter in 2002.
“This has been a progression to get where I am,” said Wilson, who resides in Philadelphia. “Of all the Millrose Games I’ve run in, it’s fun to see how far I’ve come.
“My coach (Derek Thompson) and I don’t try to go after records. But before the race he said, ‘Go run your race.’ It wouldn’t make sense to not take a crack at it. The last two weeks have been going really well and the training has been great. I know what kind of shape I’m in and it’s all about opportunities.”
She outlasted adidas teammate, Charlene Lipsey, whose 1:58.64 also broke Teter’s former record. In the same race, high school running sensation Samantha Watson broke the 43-year-old national high school mark in the 800 set by Mary Decker (Slaney) with a 2:01.28.
Speaking of American records, Olympic Gold Medalist Courtney Okolo set the Women’s Indoor 500m record with a 1:07.34 time, bettering Shane Cox’s 1:08.70 time in 2010.
The men’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile, the signature event of the NYRR Millrose Games, belonged to Nike Oregon Project’s Eric Jenkins. He outlasted U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and local product Kyle Merber during the last 400 meters to win with a 3:53.23. Murphy (3:54:31) and Merber (3:54.67) finished second and third, respectively.
“It’s historic,” Jenkins said moments afterward, embracing the large Wanamaker trophy. “The best people run this race. It’s one of the good wins for me. I knew that I didn’t have the speed a lot of these guys have but I know I have the strength. I wanted to be in the front with 800 to go. I tried to pick up the pace when the rabbit got off. It really went well for me.
“This is big. This is one of my best races.”
Sifan Hassan, the World Indoor Champion in the 1500m in 2016, captured the Women’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile, turning back runner-up Kate Grace and Nike Oregon Project teammate and two-time defending champion Shannon Rowbury. The 24-year-old Rio Olympian from the Netherlands won with a meet record 4:19.89 mark.
Olympic gold medalist Shaunae Miller captured the women’s 300 meters, one of the day’s most anticipated races. Miller won with a 35.71 in an outstanding field that included Olympic gold medalist Natasha Hastings (36.88) and New Jersey high school Olympian Sydney McLaughlin (37.09).
Olympic gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi and silver medalist Sandi Morris continued their friendly rivalry during the John Catsimatidis Women’s Pole Vault. And just like during the Olympics in Rio and during last year’s NYRR Millrose Games, Stefanidi prevailed. She cleared 15.9 ¾ while Morris finished with 15.5 ¾.
Earlier in the day, Sweden’s Armand Duplantis set the boys’ junior world pole vault mark (18 feet, 10 3/4 inches).