2012 Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational: Olympic Year Produces Top Marks, by Mark Winitz, note by Larry Eder

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Estrada, Diego-004-DG_1.jpg
Men's 10,000m, Payton Jordan, front pack, photo by Don Gosney

The ten thousand meters, a race for 24 laps, where one gets as close to
the red line, and holds it, for as long as one can. Look at the picture above.
You see Diego Estrada, Cam Levin, Chris Derrick, Daniel Meucci, Sam Chelanga, Simon Bairu, all running together, near the end of the race. The strain of the effort is on their faces, as they get closer and closer to their goals, the Olympic A Standard.

Athletes from 30 countries ran at the Payton Jordan Cardinal at the Cobb Track & Angell Field Complex on Sunday night, April 29, 2012. The successes of the night were many, as athletes found their form, and using the cool conditions, and great fields, made the most of this gathering of champions, present and future. 

In the following piece, Mark Winitz, our most tenured writer from California Track & Running News, wrote about his observations on the 2012 Payton Jordan Invitational. We think that you will like it.....

Olympic Year Produces Top Marks
at Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational


By Mark Winitz

Palo Alto, Stanford University
April 29, 2012

    In an important Olympic year, a host of exceptional performances were registered at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational as distance runners, in particular, sought fast times. On an evening perfect for running, moderate temperatures, little wind, and keen international competition helped athletes score six world-leading marks. A total of 28 competitors achieved Olympic "A" standards. Of course, a host of Californians were keenly in the mix.

    In a thrilling men's 5,000m race, USA Olympian Lopez Lomong (OR) kicked to the lead with 600m to go, then momentarily stopped with a lap remaining to celebrate what he thought was the end of the race. After realizing his mistake, he turned in a 66-second final lap and proceeded to win in a world-leading time of 13:11.63.

    After following on the heels of Lomong's early kick [to maintain contact], David Torrence (Oakland) placed seventh in 13:16.53. Torrence, a 3:54.47 miler and the UC-Berkeley school record holder at the distance, was among the seven athletes who went under the Olympic "A" standard of 13:20.00. Last February, Torrence ran a 2012 world-leading time of 3:35.66 for 1,500m in Sydney, Australia which was eclipsed at the Payton Jordan meet by Andy Baddeley's (Great Britain) 3:35.19 win.

Torrence, David-010-DG_1.jpg
David Torrance gets his A, 5,000m, Payton Jordan, photo by Don Gosney

    "Since Australia, I've been specifically training for this race," said Torrence whose only previous track 5K was a 13:59 as a collegian in 2007. "I felt pretty good. I thought I could get it done and give it a run for the money. And I thought I did. If it wasn't for Lopez kicking a lap too early, I think I could have been second [to him] today. I kind of died on the last lap."

    In the women's 5,000m, Sally Kipyego (Kenya) stole the show with a dominating performance. Running solo, the 2011 IAAF World Championships silver medalist at 10,000m ran a new Cobb Track and Angell Field record of 14:43.11, winning by 25 seconds.

    "I needed to run 71 seconds [per lap], or close to that, to get my body to realize what I'll need to do in the [Kenyan] Trials," said Kipyego, the 2009 Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 5K champion. "Sometimes training can be deceiving, so I needed to know that I'm [on] track for what I'll need to do in a month or two."

    A half-dozen women ran under the Olympic "A" standard of 15:20. Three-time Olympian Jen Rhines (Mammoth Lakes) finished 14th in 15:41.31 in her first track race since competing in last January's U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Rhines, who placed 9th in the 10,000m at last year's IAAF World Track and Field Championships, already has the Olympic "A" standards for 5,000m and 10,000m.
 
    The women's 10,000m featured a battle between Iowa State University junior Betsy Saina and Amy Hastings (Mammoth Lakes, CA), who was coming off a heartbreaking fourth-place finish at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. The pair dueled over the final two miles before Saina pulled away with a half-lap remaining for the win in 31:15.97, a 2012 world-leading time. Hastings (2nd, 31:19.87) scored a personal record, bettering her previous best by 59 seconds.

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Amy Hastings, 10,000m, Huge PR!, Payton Jordan, photo by Don Gosney

    "Since the Olympic Trials Marathon, my training has been really spotty so I really didn't know what to expect," Hastings said. "But once the race started, and I felt I could get the 'A' standard, I just started racing and pushing the pace. My strength right now from the marathon is just to go out and grind. So, I just went up to the front and tried to hold off the other girls. I didn't want it to come down to a kick."

    Six women went under the Olympic "A" qualifying standard of 31:45.00. Deena Kastor (Mammoth Lakes, CA), competing in her first race on the track in five years, placed seventh in 31:49.23--under the U.S. Olympic Trials "A" standard but just outside the "A" qualifying time for the London Olympic Games.

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Deena Kastor, 10,000m, Payton Jordan,  photo by Don Gosney

    Kastor, the 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist who finished sixth at this year's U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, was understandably a bit disappointed with her race.
 
    "I really thought I could get the Olympic 'A' standard today, Kastor commented. "I need to get back to the aggressiveness of the track, which I'm really lacking. It's pretty much of a given that to make the team at the Trials you're going to have to run the 'A' standard."

    Kastor set a U.S. women's record for 10,000m at this meet in 2002. Her standard of 30:52.32 stood until it was lowered to 30:22:22 by Shalane Flanagan at the 2008 Olympic Games.

    Former UC-Davis standout Kim Conley (8th, 32:00.94) recorded a U.S. Olympic Trials "A" qualifier.

Derrick, Chris-017-DG_1.jpgChris Derrick, Am Collegiate Record, 27:31.38, photo by Don Gosney

    The men's 10,000m produced a new American collegiate record by Stanford's Chris Derrick (Illinois) and an Olympic team berth for Diego Estrada (Salinas, CA) who will represent Mexico in London. Southern Utah's Cam Levins (Canada) turned in a 55-second final lap and recorded a 27:27.96 win, the fastest time in the world this year. 2010 NCAA 10,000m champion Sam Chelanga (2nd, 27:29.82) and Derrick (3rd, 27:31.38) followed. Eight men, including Estrada (5th, 27:32.90) ran under the Olympic "A" standard of 27:45.

    Derrick's time broke the previous American collegiate record, held by Galen Rupp, by just over two seconds. The Stanford senior has the remainder of the regular collegiate season, a trip to the NCAA Division I Championships (Des Moines, Iowa, June 6-9), followed two weeks later by the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials ahead of him. He now has the Olympic "A" standard for both 5,000m and 10,000m.

    "I'm trying not to think too much about the rest of the season," Derrick said. "There's a great quote that I love from Seb Coe when he lost [the gold medal and earned silver - Editor] in the 800m at the 1980 Olympic Games and then came back and won the 1,500m. He said you don't become a bad athlete in a week. So, I figure if I run well at NCAAs, I'll probably run well at the Trials."

    Estrada, Diego-004-DG_1.jpg
Diego Estrada (671), 27:32.8, Payton Jordan, photo by Don Gosney

    Estrada, who immigrated to the U.S. with his family at the age of one, became a U.S. citizen last November after years of waiting--with hopes of competing in this year's U.S. Trials and eventually wearing the USA singlet in international competition, including the Olympic Games. IAAF rules, however, require athletes who acquire new citizenship to wait at least two years before they can represent their country in international competition. And USATF rules do not allow athletes who have not met this IAAF criteria to compete at the U.S. Trials because it's a selection event for the Olympic Games.

Mexico, though, had offered Estrada, who holds dual U.S./Mexican citizenship, a spot on their Olympic team if he achieved the Olympic "A" standard. So, the Northern Arizona University redshirt made the difficult decision to take up his native country's proposal. Now he will be an Olympian.

    "I went out slow. I didn't care about the win, but I was going to do anything I could to get that 'A' standard," said Estrada, who collapsed on the track in ecstasy after blistering the final 800 meters in 2:04. "I'm actually shocked by my time. My training hasn't been going well over the past five weeks."

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Anna Pierce, final blast off turn, Payton Jordan, 1,500m, photo by Don Gosney

    Anna Pierce (Mammoth Lakes, CA/Nike) won the women's 1,500m in a world-leading time of 4:07.00, one second slower than the "A" standard for London.

    "I was just racing today, not really expecting to get the Olympic 'A' standard," said Pierce, who placed 10th in the steeplechase at the 2008 Olympic Games and now concentrates on the 1,500m and 800m. I figured I'd run 4:08 to 4:10, so 4:07 is kind of a gift. I've been doing a lot of strength training. Things are going well for me, so I'm happy."

    Pierce had already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials by virtue of her season best of 4:10.38 in 2011, under the Trials' 4:12.93 standard.

    Alice Schmidt (Coronado, CA), the 2008 Olympic Trials runner-up at 800m, placed sixth in 4:09.68.

     "I'm just getting started this season and looking forward to sharpening up and getting some 800s under my belt, " said Schmidt, who is coached by 1984 Olympic 800m gold medalist Joaquim Cruz.

    In other action, Prince Mumba (Santa Monica, CA/Zambia) won the men's 800m in 1:47.04 and Morgan Uceny (San Diego), the 2011 #1 ranked woman at 1,500m in the world, won the women's two-lapper in 2:02.46.

Woodland, CA native and Stanford grad Jill Camarena-Williams (now living in Arizona) won the women's shot put. The 2011 World Outdoor Championship bronze medalist's winning toss of 19.54m/64-01.25 set a new stadium record.


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