We asked Sean MacPherson to come up with five takeaways on the Nike Pre Classic. Sean did a nice job on his top five and I think that you will like it.
The 2022 Nike Pre Classic was number 47.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen takes the Bowerman Mile, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
The 2022 Prefontaine Classic has come and gone, and this year’s event provided some world-class performances and a small taste of what is to come in Eugene this summer. While the rainy and windy weather wasn’t ideal for peak performance, there were still some incredible performances and blazing times. This meet also gave track fans a barometer of where some notable athletes currently are in their training, less than two months away from the World Championships. Here were my biggest standout athletes and takeaways from the meeting.
1. Michael Norman
Michael Norman shattered records in high school. And in college as a USC Trojan. But I’d argue that his accomplishments as a professional haven’t quite lived up to the world-class talent that we know is there. A national championship and fifth-place finish in the Olympic final in 2021 is a very impressive year, but I’d argue that he can achieve even more with his level of talent. Well, it seemed on Saturday that things are starting to come together for the 24-year-old sprinter. Norman ran a blazing 43.60 on Saturday, running away from a field that included 3rd and 4th place Olympic finishers Kirani James and Michael Cherry. 43.60 isn’t quite a personal best, but it’s his fastest time since his PB of 43.45 back in April of 2019. With this kind of performance, I think it’s fair to assume that this is the year that Michael Norman can contend for a gold in an international championship.
Michael Norman wins the 400m in style, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
2. ON Athletics Club
On the distance side of things, I’m not sure any club had a more impressive, eye-opening weekend than the ON Athletics group. Coached by a former American distance standout Dathan Ritzenhein, this group has already established itself in the distance world, but these athletes still surprised a lot of people this weekend. After battling injury and illness throughout 2022, Joe Klecker out-kicked the field in a pedestrian 10K on Friday night and earned national champion status in a winning time of 28:28.71. This race was immediately after Alicia Monson punched her ticket to the world championships by finishing second in the 10K in 30:51.09. The next day, Oliver Hoare out-kicked a pair of world-class Kenyan athletes to place second in the Bowerman Mile in 3:50.65. Clearly, Dathan Ritzenheim is doing an incredible job coaching this group and this team of athletes is ready to make noise on the world stage.
On Athletics Club, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
3. Berihu Aregawi
Going into the 5K on Saturday, I certainly didn’t expect a race where a 10K Olympic champion as well as 5K Olympic silver and bronze medalists are in a chase pack failing to stay close to the leader. That’s what we got on Saturday, as Berihu Aregawi demolished a field composed of distance giants in Selemon Barega, Mo Ahmed, and Paul Chelimo. Aregawi ran a meet record and world-leading time of 12:50.05, followed by a second-place time of 13:06.86. Aregawi may not have the namesake of the athletes he was competing with on Saturday, but maybe now it’s time to put him in that class with the top distance runners. Besides, Aregawi is the 5K road world record holder (12:52) and placed fifth in the Olympic 10K last summer. Perhaps this is the year where he breaks through and earns a global medal on the track.
Berihu Aregawi, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
4. Sha’Carri Richardson
The track and field world has been waiting for Sha’Carri Richardson to return to form after the adversity that she faced last summer. After dominating the Olympic Trials 100m last June, Richardson was banned from the Olympics due to a positive marijuana test. Since then, we’ve seen a slow return to form and not the usual dominance we grew accustomed to with Richardson. However, Saturday may have been a milestone day in her comeback, as she broke the 11-second barrier for the first time since the suspension, running 10.92 for second place. Justin Gatlin recently said that he witnessed Richardson run 10.3 (world record) time in practice. I’m personally not willing to believe that based on what we’ve recently seen, but I do believe that we are starting to see Richardson return to her world-class form in this event. But before we consider her a global medal contender, I’ll first want to see if she can build on this race and earn a national championship once again at the USATF championships next month.
Sha’Carri Richardson, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
5. Bowerman Mile – Americans
I wasn’t surprised by much in the Bowerman mile. Jakob Ingribrigtsen out-classed the field, as expected. Besides Oliver Hoare placing second above some Kenyan athletes with an incredible pedigree, this race pretty much played out how I would have predicted. However, following this race, I couldn’t help but think about how the Americans performed and what it means for this summer’s championship meets in Eugene. While neither Cole Hocker nor Cooper Teare seemed thrilled with their performances, it was still impressive watching them hold their own against this world-class field comprised of Olympic finalists. Right now, the prospective field in the 1500m at the USATF Championships seems rather weak with Matthew Centrowitz’s knee injury and the lack of impressive performances elsewhere. To me, Hocker and Teare are the clear-cut favorites to win this race in June and it seems like a no-brainer for Teare to race in the 1500m, and not the 5000m. I’ll also add that with his time of 3:56.24, Colin Sahlman might be able to hold his own in this event in June, which seems crazy to say for a high school athlete.
Colin Sahlman runs 3:56.24, #4 all time boy’s high school mark, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto