LOS ANGELES — An epic early-season battle between training partners and Olympic champions Matthew Centrowitz and Mo Farah, as well as a stunner of a performance from Rio Olympian Brenda Martinez were the stories of the night at the 2017 USATF Distance Classic at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. All told, 12 U.S. athletes met IAAF World Outdoor Championships standards and 34 athletes met qualifying marks for the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships in June.
Nine U.S. women and three men clinched world standards in their events, while 14 women and 20 men qualified for the USATF Outdoor Championships. In total, 38 Olympians took the track at Jack Kemp Stadium Thursday evening. On-demand video will be available on USATF.TV +PLUS beginning Friday evening at 9 p.m. ET.
In the first event of the evening, Rio Olympian Brenda Martinez (Rancho Cucamonga, California) set an impressive tone by crushing the women’s 800m, meeting the world standard and breaking both event and stadium records. After staying in the top three for the first 400m, Martinez passed Adelle Tracey for the lead and opened a significant gap heading into the final 200m. The 29-year-old blew the field away in 1:58.79, ranking fourth fastest in the world this year. Tracey, New Zealand’s Angela Petty, and NJNY Track Club’s Cecilia Barowski also hit the qualifying mark.
2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the 1500m Jenny Simpson started toward the rear and attempted to make her way to the front in second 400m, ultimately finishing eighth overall with a time of 2:02.32.
The men’s 800m race intensified after the first lap, led by Great Britain athletes Kyle Lanford and Andrew Osagie. Australia’s Luke Matthews rushed to join the top three and ultimately won in 1:46.44. The field, which included IAAF World Relays 4x800m gold medalist Brandon Kidder and Rio Olympian Charles Jock, did not meet the world standard of 1:45.90.
Hillary Bor established dominance a third into the men’s 3000m steeplechase, entering the final two laps with a substantial lead over the field. The Rio Olympian easily met the world standard in 8:23:08, running the fastest time in the world this year.
In the women’s race, teammates Mel Lawrence, Alexina Wilson and Marisa Howard hit the world standard of 9:42.00 in 9:40.20, 9:40.40 and 9:40.90, respectively.
Shannon Rowbury held on tight in the women’s 1500m but was ultimately bested by Canadian Olympian Sheila Reid in the race’s final moments. The three-time U.S. Olympian still met the world standard in 4:07.17, just falling short of Reid’s 4:07.07.
The battle between reigning 1500m Olympic champion Matt Centrowitz and multi-time Olympic champion Mo Farah kicked off with Farah maintaining front position for the majority of the race. The stacked field, which also included Hassan Mead and Andrew Wheating, stayed close throughout. Great Britain’s Chris O’Hare surprised the crowd with a pass for the lead during the last lap, but Centrowitz overtook him in a 100m sprint to hit the standard in 3:33.41. Centrowitz, Farah and O’Hare all broke the previous facility and meet records, besting Farah’s previous mark of 3:34.66.
The final women’s event of the night included a first-time win for Great Britain’s Laura Weightman in her debut 5000m. Natosha Rogers, a close second place, challenged Weightman at the very end in a riveting finish to take 20 seconds off her personal best in 15:08.29. Sarah Pagano and Lauren Paquette also ran world championship qualifying times with Pagano achieving a nine-second PR of 15:18.57.
To cap off the Distance Classic, Shadrack Kipchirchir led the men’s 5000m field. With 800m remaining, Abbabiya Simbasa, Martin Hehir and Kipchirchir stayed in a tight pack. Hehir fell back, creating a mad dash for the win. Kipchirchir went wide and sprinted to the line in 13:23.74, less than one second shy of the world standard.
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