Lennie Waite in London 2009 (© Getty Images)
Palo Alto, USAThis early-season Stanford Invitational fixture saw two world leads established and another world lead equalled on Friday (6) and Saturday (7) at the Angell Field facility on the campus of Stanford University.
With the Olympic Games approaching, many world-class runners decided to use this extra opportunity to check their form in advance of the elite Payton Jordan Invitational on the same track in three weeks’ time. Over the years, this later meeting has become synonymous with a high rate of success in individual goal achievement in distance running.
World lead for Areson on 5000m
Just after the lightly breezy conditions abated on Friday evening, the women’s 5000m closed with a blistering finish by Jackie Areson as she lowered her outdoor PB by more than 30 seconds with a world-leading 15:18.31. Lisa Uhl had forged a lead of up to 35 metres with four laps remaining in the event, but the 24-year-old could not deal with Areson’s kick over the final 200 metres as she took the runner-up spot in 15:21.56.
The erstwhile world leader, Fionnuala Britton of Ireland, led the pack during the first half of the race, but she faded to fifth at the end in 15:28.22. Ahead of Britton were Brie Felnagle (15:22.39) and Alisha Williams (15:24.82).
Areson’s time secured an Olympic ‘A’ standard, while the next four met the ‘B’ norm for London.
Earlier in the evening, Britain’s Lennie Waite breezed to a 9:48.35 win in the 3000m Steeplechase to top that event’s 2012 list. It was ever so slightly outside the 9:48.00 needed for the Olympic ‘B’ standard.
Barrett threatens 2m barrier
On Friday afternoon, the women’s high jump saw Brigetta Barrett clearing 1.95m to match Amy Acuff’s top performance in the world this season. The 21-year-old Universiade champion from last year who competes for the University of Arizona then called for the benchmark 2.00m height, which just barely eluded her on her first attempt. After that, fatigue appeared to set in for her remaining two tries.
"I'm really happy with my performance," Barrett told news outlets in Arizona. "My step is really consistent; this is the second week in-a-row where I've felt really natural and calm over the bar. I felt calm even over 2.00, my first attempt felt really good and really relaxed. I just need to learn how to stay relaxed over the bar and not try to rush it."
The men’s 5000 metres, as did its distaff counterpart, came down to a late sprint to decide the winner. Brent Vaughn went to the lead at the start of the gun lap, only to be overhauled in the final metres by Kenya’s Stephen Sambu. The University of Arizona student clocked a PB 13:31.51 to pip Vaughn’s 13:31.85 as six other runners crossed the line within three seconds in the mad scramble at the end.
Ritzenhein returns to the track to take 10,000m
Dathan Ritzenhein returned to the track after an absence of almost three years’ time during which he has been concentrating exclusively on road racing. The ninth-place finisher in the Beijing Olympic marathon held off university student Tyler Penell to win the 10,000m, 28:21.48 to 28:23.54, as David Jankowski finished third with 28:26.90.
The women’s 10,000m saw Tara Erdmann nip Kate DiCamillo at the finish, 32:31.15 to 32:31.97, as Iowa State University student Meaghan Nelson, in her debut over the distance, finished third with 32:33.40 after leading the race most of the way.
Olympic seasons always reveal new young talent, and the men’s steeplechase provided a case in point. David Adams, a 23-year-old electrical engineering student from Nebraska, showed the poise of a seasoned runner with a smooth, crisp finish, easily outkicking three-time US national team member Josh McAdams to easily win in 8:29.51, shaving almost 11 seconds from his previous best and dipping under the Olympic ‘B’ standard. McAdams held second with 8:36.94 ahead of Mexico’s Luis Ibarra (8:37.32).
Running strongly from gun to tape in the women’s 1500m was Canadian Nicole Sifuentes, who never saw any other competitor as she romped to a 4:11.80 win with Lithuanian Natalija Piliusina a distant second (PB 4:14.35). The men’s 1500m sections were headed by Jamel Ahrass of France with 3:39.04.
Reigning World junior discus bronze medallist Julian Wruck had no challenger as his 63.79m best was almost seven metres ahead of the field.
Decathlete Japheth Cato of the University of Wisconsin, the NCAA indoor runner-up in the Heptathlon last month, came away with two PBs, as he won the long jump with 7.47m and was fourth in the Pole Vault at 5.25m. The vault winner was Levi Keller, who pushed his PB up from 5.35m to 5.45m.
Over the years, the Stanford track has been notable as a distance-running mecca and, with its comparatively soft texture, not as a favourable venue for achieving sprint times. No one bothered to warn DionDre Batson about this before the weekend. The 19-year-old Sacramento student posted winning times of 10.27 and 20.89 (the latter against a 0.8 headwind) to establish himself as someone to watch in the near future.
Local sprinter Ashton Purvis, also 19, had the best sprint double in the women’s events, clocking 11.43 and 23.42.
Yet another 19-year-old, Chris Giesting of Notre Dame, was more than one second ahead of all 400m runners with his PB 46.32 which came in breezy conditions.
Ed Gordon for the IAAF