By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved; used with permission
EUGENE, Oregon (28-May) —— Despite chilly and rainy conditions, middle and long-distance times were remarkably fast at today’s 47th Prefontaine Classic 2022 held at Hayward Field in Eugene, the third stop of the 2022 Wanda Diamond League. World-leading marks were recorded in all five of the distance disciplines contested this afternoon, plus two meeting records.
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, the two-time Olympic 1500m gold medalist, put up perhaps the most impressive mark today. Running in her signature event, she joined pacemaker Angel Piccirillo and reigning world indoor 1500m champion Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia on a torrid pace of 2:03.88 through 800m.
After Piccirillo dropped out, Kipyegon and Tsegay ran together until about 220 meters to go when Kipyegon passed her rival and started her long drive for home.
“There’s just no catching her,” said analyst Kara Goucher on the NBC broadcast.
Indeed, Tsegay was no match for her Kenyan rival today, who powered down the homestretch to win in a meeting record 3:52.60, which was also a 2022 world leader. It was Kipyegon’s second-fastest time of her career, the ninth-fastest in history, and the fastest time ever run in the month of May.
“It was a really good race today,” Kipyegon said in the mixed zone. “I was not expecting such a quick time today, but I’m really happy about the race, the meet record. It was a surprise.”
Tsegay held on for second in 3:54.21, close to her outdoor career best, while Canadian record holder Gabriela Debues-Stafford got third in 3:58.62. A total of seven women broke four minutes.
Nearly as impressive was Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s winning performance in the Bowerman Mile where he successfully defended his title from last year. Ingebrigtsen, the reigning Olympic 1500m champion from Norway, overwhelmed a superb field to win in 3:49.76 despite easing up in the final ten meters to celebrate.
Australian Olympian Oliver H o a r e put in a mighty sprint in the homestretch to beat reigning world champion Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya to take second, 3:50.65 to 3:50.77.
“I’m pretty happy with the race,” said Ingebrigtsen. “As you can see it’s a little bit windy, but it worked out pretty good. I went out at an OK pace and tried to keep the momentum, then saved something for the last lap.”
Back in 13th place, Colin Sahlman of Newbury Park High School in California ran a personal best 3:56.24, the third-fastest mile ever run by a USA high school boy.
“I threw up twice,” Sahlman told reporters after emerging from the athlete recovery area.
Berihu Aregawi Sets Prefontaine Classic Record
In the men’s 5000m, Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi ran a brilliant solo race. The 21-year-old, who finished fourth at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic 10,000m, ran away from the field to win in 12:50.05, a meeting record.
Remarkably, his time was even faster than the 12:57.99 that Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei ran last night on the same track where he tried to break the world record. Aregawi clobbered the field, winning by nearly 17 seconds.
Like the 1500m, the women’s steeplechase also went out aggressively. Behind the pacemaking of Rosefline Chepngetich of Kenya, the field went through the first kilometer in a fast 2:57.05, not too far off of world record pace.
At that clip, only two athletes –Kazakhstan’s Norah Jeruto and Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi– were able to keep up the pace. The two former Kenyans battled right through the final water jump where Jeruto picked up a slight gap by hurdling the water barrier and striding quickly out of the water pit.
She won by less than a second in 8:57.97, a world-leading time. Yavi became just the seventh woman to break nine minutes for the steeplechase, taking second in 8:58.71. Olympic champion Puruth Chemutai of Uganda finished fourth.
“The weather was not good and I tried my best,” said Jeruto, who wore her hair in intricate braids. “Now I go back to training and prepare for the World Championships. The competition was tough, but I tried my best.”
The two top Americans, Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, finished eighth and ninth, in 9:18.19 and 9:20.96, respectively, and never ran with the lead group. Frerichs, the 2021 Olympic silver medalist, told LetsRun.com that she had been struggling with low iron levels.
“Had some really low iron levels coming out of altitude that I’ve been trying to manage and get on top of,” Frerichs lamented. “I spent a lot of March and April just feeling pretty horrible because of that.”
Keely Hodgkinson Dominates 800m
In the women’s 800m, the 2021 Olympic silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain showed brilliant form in the final 200 meters, running away from American stars Ajee’ Wilson and Raevyn Rogers down the homestretch and clocking a world-leading 1:57.72. Hodgkinson was pleased with her effort.
“I wasn’t expecting some of the girls to come out that quick, so it was quite nice to just sit in and be patient,” the 20-year-old said in her post-race interview. “It was back a bit winding up at 300 and just to make sure I had something left for the final 120.”
The Wanda Diamond League continues in Rabat, Morocco, on June 5, then moves on to Rome on June 9. Today’s meeting was the only Diamond League stop in the United States.