Impressive Marks at Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational
By Mark Winitz
May 4, 2014
STANFORD, Calif. – A bevy of excellent early season outdoor performances were turned in at this annual evening distance carnival that draws the track world’s eyes to Stanford University’s Cobb Track and Angell Field. In fact, the 19th annual competition yielded three world leading times, one 2014 U.S leading mark, and one meet record among a slew of impressive performances in the distance events.
This year’s banner event, the men’s 5,000m, alone, included five performances under 13:15 (which was the ‘A’ standard for last year’s IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Moscow). Ben True (Saucony) successfully defended his Payton Jordan 5K title in 13:02.74, a personal best performance and second fasted men’s 5,000m in the world in 2014 (to Galen Rupp’s 13:01.26 American indoor record set last January at Boston University).
True, who was the top American at both the 2011 and 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, used a strong finishing kick to out-leg former University of Minnesota standout Hassan Mead (2nd, 13:02.80, Nike OTC Elite), and Lopez Lomong (3rd, 13:07.95, Nike). Lomong set the previous meet record of 13:11.63 two years ago which was shattered by True.
“You have to have confidence in your kick because as an elite athlete that’s what it comes down to,” said runner-up Mead who improved his previous PR by nine seconds and attributes his improvements to his Nike OTC coach, Mark Rolland. “We spend a lot of time training and getting strong so we have much more coming this season.”
In the women’s 5,000m, Sifan Hassan (Netherlands, Global Sport) waited until the gun lap to assume the lead and narrowly out-kicked Meraf Bahta (Sweden, Halle IF), 14:59.23 to 14:59.49, as both bettered the 2014 world-leading women’s time. Katie Mackey (Brooks Beasts) placed third in 15:04.74, bettering her previous PR by 19 seconds and recording the best time by a U.S. woman in the early season.
“I’ve been on the cusp of running a fast time in the 5K for a couple of years now,” said an excited Mackey who was the Pac 10 1,500m champion in 2008 and 2009. “Part of me was just waiting to get in the right race on the right day with the right ladies. I came into today’s race knowing that people were going to go. I’m just not used to feeling this good in the 5K. I’m used to feeling pretty good in the 1,500m, and normally in the 5K I feel a bit like a fish out of water. So, this was just huge for me, for my confidence. It’s been one of the goals I’ve going after for a couple of years.”
In a somewhat tactical men’s 10,000m race, a sizeable pack of lead men went through the 5K split in a conservative 14 minutes. Cam Levins (Nike Oregon Project) went to the fore several times when the pace lagged. Levins led a six-pack at the bell lap, but Mexico’s Juan Luis Barrios had the best kick in the end, scoring a 27:34.40 victory. Levins placed second in 27:36.00, a Canadian leading mark this year, and Bashir Abdi (Belgium, Top Sport Vl) was third in 27:36.40.
“I’m pleased since I haven’t done a 10K outside of the World Championships for a couple of years,” related Canada’s Levins, who placed 11th in the 10K and 14th in the 5K in the 2012 Olympic Games followed by a 14th place 10K in the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow. “It was good to get back into a race like this and try to be competitive. It was a slow first half and I wanted to make sure that we kept on pace during the second half.”
In the women’s 10,000m, Kenya’s Sally Kipyego (Nike Oregon Track Club Elite) assumed an early lead, trailed by Molly Huddle (Saucony) running alone, and then the rest of the field. Kipyego, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000, ran a superbly even race, hitting 5K in 15:21.4 in route to a 30:42.26 victory and a 2014 world-leading mark. Huddle (2nd, 30:47.59), the U.S. 5,000m record holder, scored a personal best and the second fastest U.S. women’s 10,000 mark ever behind Shalane Flanagan’s 30:22:22 U.S. record. Former Iowa State standout Betty Saina (Nike OTC Elite, Kenya) grabbed third in 30:57.59. Jordan Hasay (Nike Oregon Project) ran a solid 31:39.67 for 4th and improved her PR by seven seconds.
“I just wanted to run within myself, run a solid pace, and get comfortable with that feeling of pain again,” commented Kipyego whose race was her first on the track since fracturing a foot in 2012 in a Diamond League event. “I’ll be running some Diamond League races this year and work on just getting comfortable with running fast, getting in the zone, and minding my body because I haven’t run this fast for a while.”
Said Huddle: “I was thinking get up there with Sally, and I kind of pushed for it a few times, but it was just too uncomfortable that early in the race for me. So, I backed off a little bit, and then I thought I’m on pace with a mile to go, and I was grinding. I didn’t feel great during the last mile and had to tough it out. But it was a big PR anyway.”
Hasay, who is coached by Alberto Salazar, related “We knew that the pace at the front was going to go really quick, and we really didn’t want to go with that. Alberto’s last instructions were ‘just go in the last 400.’ It worked out and I’m really pleased with it. “It’s my first (IAAF) ‘A’ standard. This may be my only 10K of the year, and then I’ll try to get my speed down.”
In the men’s steeplechase, 2011 U.S. Olympian William (“Billy”) Nelson notched the victory with a 8:28.40 world-leading mark, but well off his PR of 8:17.27 that he set in Monaco in 2011.
“It’s early in the season, so we kind of try and stay away from lists and marks and just take one race at a time,” Nelson said. “I’m really happy with how everything went today. It was a little bit faster than I was hoping to run, but I felt good and I closed well and that’s what we’re trying to go for. My goals this year are a USA title again, at least top three, and just get myself back to be relevant again. And, I hope we can come away with a new PR.”
Sara Hall (Asics) led the women’s steeple for several laps before ultimately succumbing to 2012 U.S. Olympian and ’12 NCAA steeple champion Shalaya Kipp (Colorado) who recorded a 9:39:12 victory. Aisha Praught (Nike OTC Elite, 2nd, 9:42,08) and Hall (3rd, 9:42.10) followed.
Riley Masters (Brooks Beasts) secured victory in the men’s 1,500m with a winning time of 3:38.42, a personal best.
“It’s been a while since I’ve run a 1,500 or the mile, so I didn’t exactly sure about what to expect,” Masters said. “But the pace went out so fast, and I thought I got out well. I had to make a few interesting moves to get up with the leaders. I think the 1500 will be my primary focus for USA’s and the bigger meets this season.”
Kate Grace (Oiselle), a four-time All-American at Yale, recorded a 4:07.35 win and PR in the women’s 1,500m race.
“I was nervous before the race. I really didn’t know how I was going to feel, but I felt smooth,” said Grace, who is moving up from 800m after winning her first U.S. title at last year’s USA 1 Mile Road Championships. “My goals are to run the 1,500 at USAs and then go over to Europe and bring down my times.”