Millrose Games Preview: Event-by-Event Breakdown
One of the world’s premier indoor track and field events, the Millrose Games, takes place this coming Saturday, February 16, at the Armory in New York City. The historic event once again features numerous Olympians, national record holders and future stars of the sport.
Here is our event-by-event breakdown for this weekend’s festivities:
The women’s 60m dash is loaded with experienced talent, which should make for a very close, exciting race. In 2012, the women’s race saw first through fourth place finish within .03 of each other, 7.25-7.28.
Leading the charge in the women’s field is U.S. Olympian Lauryn Williams, who’ll look to get her 2013 racing season underway with a big victory. It’s been a number of years since Williams ran her 7.01 60m personal best, but don’t be surprised to see the wily veteran challenging the 7.25 winning mark from last year.
Williams’ chief challengers will be veteran Me’Lisa Barber, U.S. Olympian Jeneba Tarmoh and Jessica Young. All three have had indoor success and are fully capable of pulling off the win. Barber tends to have great success indoors, while Young has a 60m best of 7.17. Not to be overshadowed Oregon standout sprinter English Gardner is entered and may challenge the professional contingent.
On the men’s side, experience is the name of the game. Doc Patton is the headliner, bringing his wealth of experience to the race. Patton has a personal best of 6.58 set in 2003, but despite the age of the PR, the veteran can still hang with the world’s best.
Two athletes who will challenge are Zambia’s Gerald Phiri and American Reggie Dixon. The two athletes have PRs of 6.59 (Phiri) and 6.58 and should push the field off of a fast start to a sub-6.60 clocking.
One of the best stories of the weekend is the inclusion of paralympian Richard Browne in the men’s 60m dash. Browne is one of the best paralympian sprinters in the world and it will be both inspirational and motivating to see how he stacks up against some of the very best professionals.
Women’s 400m Dash
On Saturday, U.S. Olympian Francena McCorory returns to the track to build off her successful 2012 season, which saw her run in Olympic 400m final and earn Olympic gold in the 4x400m relay. McCorory holds the American record indoors for 400m at 50.54 set in 2010 when she won the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships title, running for Hampton University. She’s the class of the field and should have no problem winning the race, but the quality of the field is still quite strong.
American Wineberg and Jamaican Sophie Smellie have indoor 400m bests of 52.12 and 52.65 and are sure to give McCorory a challenge, at least for the first part of the race.
University of Arizona and 2012 400m hurdle Olympian Georganne Moline is also entered in the field. Moline is coming off of a ridiculous 2012 season, where she shocked track fans around the world by placing fifth in the Olympic 400m hurdle final. This coming from an athlete who only a few months before won her first conference title. The Wildcat senior ran 52.27 for 400m last week and should be looking to lower that mark even more this weekend.
Men’s 600m Dash
One of the best rivalries in U.S. track and field resumes this weekend at the Millrose Games, as U.S. Olympians Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds go head-to-head over the 600m distance. Symmonds, who’s been the most dominant American 800m runner over the past handful of years, is starting to lose his grip in the top spot, as Solomon bested Symmonds in the Olympic final 1:42.82-1:42.95, then blasted open his 2013 season with an American record over 600m in 1:15.70.
Symmonds generally executes a sit and kick approach, while Solomon likes to get out fast, so it’ll be interesting on Saturday to watch these two contrasting styles play out over a shorter distance than they traditionally compete in. Solomon’s freshly minted American record could certainly be lowered.
One challenger not to overlook is Belgium Olympian Kevin Borlee. The former Florida State standout is a traditional 400m runner, but showed terrific range back in 2011, when he ran 1:15.65 over the 600m distance.
This race promises to be fast, heated and easily one of the top races to watch.
Women’s 600m Dash
While Olympians Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds battle in the men’s 600m, the women’s race features a few intriguing storylines of its own. U.S. Olympian Alysia Montano is the headliner, coming in with an eye on the American record. Montano loves to take races out fast, and ran a stellar 53.05 400m effort earlier this month, setting the stage to challenge for American indoor 600m record of 1:26.56, set by Delisa Walton-Floyd in 1981. It’s the oldest American indoor record, so it’d be nice to see it go down.
While Montano is the easy favorite, there is plenty of talent in the field, making it a fun race to follow. Canadian Melissa Bishop enters with a 1:59.82 800m personal best, while two-lap standouts Erica Moore and Ajee Wilson own 1:28.02 (Moore) and 1:27.30 (Wilson) 600m bests. Don’t be surprised if both athletes make serious runs at the American record, too.
Rounding out the deep field are Americans Phoebe Wright and Latavia Thomas. Both veterans have a wealth of experience and success to pull from, making them top three threats.
Men’s Wanamaker Mile
The historic Wanamaker mile field is set, with a collection of Olympians, national champions and future stars lined up and ready to blaze on the fast track of The Armory. The odds-on-favorite to win Saturday’s competition is Olympic 1,500m fourth place finisher Matthew Centrowitz. After winning the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix mile two weeks ago, the Nike Oregon Project athlete is ready to roll to a fast time and repeat at Wanamaker mile champion.
Centrowitz certainly won’t be alone up front, as fellow Olympians Ryan Gregson (Australia) and Ciaran O’Lionaird (Ireland) look to challenge for the victory. Both are in good shape and should be looking to lower their personal bests at Millrose.
While the trio of Olympic 1,500m talent lead the field, U.S. Olympians Lopez Lomong and Donn Cabral are both showing signs of very good early season fitness. Last weekend at the Husky Classic at the University of Washington, Lomong beat a stacked field over 800m in 1:46.53. Meanwhile, Cabral lost a close-knit battle to Evan Jager or Andrew Bumbalough in the mile at the Husky Classic, running a new personal best of 3:56.41. A big time drop has to give the former Princeton standout a mental boost that he can pull off the victory Saturday.
Other key challengers are middle distance standout Robby Andrew, 2012 Wanamaker runner-up Garrett Heath, 3:56 collegiate runner Ryan Hill (NC State) and 2012 NCAA indoor 3k and 5k champion Lawi Lalang (Arizona).
Women’s Wanamaker Mile
Where do we begin? This race is incredibly intriguing, with multiple storylines, rivalries, country v. country and so much more.
Leading the way are top collegiate athletes, and rivals, Abbey D’Agostino (Dartmouth) and Jordan Hasay (Oregon). Whenever these two clash good things happen, and being so evenly matched at the mile distance, it would not be surprising to see both athletes drop a fair amount of time off their indoor mile bests. D’Agostino ran a 4:34.15 effort in mid-January, which currently ranks her near the very top of the collegiate leaderboard and US#4. Meanwhile, the two met up at the University of Washington earlier this indoor season, as D’Agostino edged Hasay 8:55.41-8:57.46 over 3,000m. This time around, the final results should be even closer, as both eye sub-4:30 times.
While D’Agostino and Hasay lead the American contingent, a trio of Canadians in Sheila Reid, Hilary Stellingwerff and Nicole Sifuentes all have the talent and closing speed to take home the victory. Reid, who’s very well known in the Northeast, will be one of the crowd favorites.
Other notable top contenders include Sarah (Bowman) Brown and Emily Infeld. Brown has been running strong all indoor season and currently ranks US#1 over the mile distance, having run 4:31.61 at the New Balance Games. Meanwhile, Infeld, while perhaps not as sharp as she would like heading into a fast mile race, finished a very strong fourth at the USA Cross Country Championships two weeks ago.
Much of the pre-race hoopla focuses in on prep phenom Mary Cain, who looks to challenge the professional and collegiate field, while looking to lower her 4:32.78 American prep mile record. Cain is on a tear this indoor season, with American high school records over 1,500m, mile, 3,000m and two-mile distances. She’s going to have a great opportunity Saturday against some of the top competition in North America to push herself to even higher levels.
While the Wanamaker Mile generally gets the headline attention at the Millrose Games, this year’s men’s two-mile could arguably be a better race from top to bottom. U.S. Olympian Bernard Lagat, who’s perhaps the greatest indoor distance runner of all-time, looks to challenge the U.S. record of 8:09.72, set by Galen Rupp last year. Lagat owns every distance record from 1,500m-5,000m besides the two-mile mark. A first mile of 4:03-4:04 should be expected.
As Lagat goes after the American record, he’ll have plenty of challengers. For starters, Oregon Track Club Elite teammates Evan Jager and Andrew Bumbalough should provide Lagat plenty of competition. The two Portland-based athletes ran 3:56.12 (Bumbalough) and 3:56.14 this past weekend. Both athletes closed in under 56 seconds and should be ready for the fast early pace Saturday.
Following closely behind should be Olympians Cam Levins and Donn Cabral. Levins has shown time and again that he can grind out some terrific times, while Cabral continues to improve as a professional, finishing just behind Bumbalough and Jager last weekend at the University of Washington in 3:56.41.
Five key contenders makes it an amazing race on paper already, but there will be a race within a race too, as prep phenom Edward Cheserek shoots for the American high school record of 8:40.0, set by Gerry Lindgren back in 1964. It’s the oldest boys high school indoor record and fans should cheering on Cheserek Saturday to smash the mark.
Milers Riley Masters and Will Leer, both of whom have shown early season success, should position themselves nicely to challenge for a top five finish, too.
It’s not every day a silver medalist decides to compete at the Millrose Games. The legendary event has hosted literally hundreds of Olympians over the years, but often times Olympic medalists decide to stay away from the indoor circuit, especially after the dramatic Olympic year.
Well, the Millrose Games not only got one silver medalist for the men’s 60m hurdles, they got two silver medalists. 110m hurdle silver medalist Jason Richardson is ready to jump into his 2013 racing season by challenging for the Millrose win. One of his chief rivals will be decathlon silver medalist Trey Hardee, adding even more excitement to the event.
Along with Richardson and Hardee, NCAA 100m and 110m hurdle champion Andrew Riley looks to start his first full season as a professional on the right foot, while experienced American Jeff Porter hopes he can better his 7.54 personal best.
On the women’s side, defending Millrose champion Kristi Castlin returns, looking to best both her 7.91 winning time from last year and her 7.84 personal best. She’ll have plenty of competition from the experienced field, as Yvette Lewis and Queen Harrison look to challenge for the victory.
Women’s Field Events – HJ, LJ, PV
While the track races get much of the attention at the Millrose Games, fans need to remember there are some fantastic field events lined up. Leading the way is the women’s pole vault competition, which sees defending champion Jenn Suhr return to set the tone for her 2013 season. Suhr has a best of 16-0, which she accomplished in 2012, and it would not at all be surprising to see the Olympian test that height once again.
Suhr will be challenged by Greek vaulter Ekaterini Stefanidi, who’s vaulting quite well this season thus far, as well as U.S. Olympian Becky Holliday and consistent veteran Mary Saxer.
While pole vault should capture plenty of attention Saturday, both the high jump and long jump offer their own intrigue. In the high jump, University of Arizona champion and 2012 Olympian Brigetta Barrett headlines the field and looks to improve upon her season best of 6-3.25 set at the Razorback Invitational in late January.
In the long jump, U.S. Olympian Brittney Reese seeks to challenge her indoor American record of 23-8.75, which she set in 2012. Reese loves putting on a show for the fans, making the long jump a can’t-miss event.