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Lagat beats Rupp for USA Title

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – (February 26, 2011) – On Saturday evening, two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat was the victor in his highly-anticipated Nike Men’s 3000 meter showdown against 2008 Olympian Galen Rupp at the 2011 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships presented by BMW in Albuquerque.

Hall - Simpson (nee Berringer)

Hall - Simpson (nee Berringer)

Lagat, 36, who won last year’s USA Indoor title in 8:12.60, was even with Rupp with three laps to go before Rupp grabbed the lead with 2½ laps remaining. Lagat turned on his patented kick with 1½ laps to go and continued to lengthen his lead throughout the remainder of the race, finishing first in 7:57.17.

“I didn’t have a lot of strategies,” said Lagat, a two-time world champion. “I wanted to sit back and watch the race and feel the race. I wanted to stay near the front position so I wouldn’t get boxed in. I waited, and then I went. I knew (Brent) Vaughn was a front-runner. For me to race against him was really special…I’m not under pressure. I just have to run and run hard.”

Rupp, who earlier this month set the U.S. 5000m indoor record for the second time in his career, was the national runner-up in 7:59.91. Aaron Braun, who earlier in the race held the lead for a number of laps, finished third in 8:02.59, and 2011 USA Cross Country champion Brent Vaughn was fourth in 8:09.45.

Jennifer Simpson and Sara Hall ran stride-for-stride through much of the 3000m race. With 100m left to go, Simpson (nee Barringer) pulled ahead of Hall and headed down the final straight away with a strong kick. Crossing the finish line with her fists pumping in the air, Simpson, 24, claimed her first national indoor title in 9:02.20, proving that she is back in her collegiate-form after struggling with injury during her first season as a professional athlete in 2010.

“When I looked at the screen, it felt good. I’m back,” Simpson said. “I missed the whole season last year. It was hard for me to go seven or eight months without racing. I needed to get back into the routine of it and show what I’m capable of.”

Hall repeated her runner-up performance of 2010, clocking a 9:03.91. After running to a 4th place finish at last week’s NACAC Cross Country Championships, Allie Kieffer made a quick transition to the track to place third in 9:35.89.

The third and final event of the USA Track & Field 2011 Indoor Visa Championship Series, the USA Indoor Championships will be televised live on Sunday, February 27, from 4:30 – 6:00pm Eastern Time on ESPN. The meet is also being webcast at in partnership with The free webcast will run from 11:30am – 6:00pm on Sunday.

USA Indoor Track & Field Championships: 3000m
Albuquerque, NM, Saturday, February 26, 2011

1) Bernard Lagat (AZ), 7:57.17
2) Galen Rupp (OR), 7:59.91
3) Aaron Braun (AZ), 8:02.59
4) Brent Vaughn (CO), 8:09.45
5) Scott Smith (AZ), 8:18.45

1) Jenny Simpson (OR), 9:02.20
2) Sara Hall (CA), 9:03.91