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Lagat wins at USA Indoor

Bernard Lagat

Bernard Lagat

ALBUQUERQUE – Bernard Lagat brought the crowd of 2,037 to their feet in the final lap of the men’s 3,000-meters while William Claye jumped a world leader in the men’s triple jump and Amber Campbell established a meet record during the first day of the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The meet continues Sunday beginning at noon Mountain Time.

The fourth and final stop on the indoor Visa Championship Series, the meet will be broadcast on ESPN on Sunday, February 26, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Eastern. Spots will be on the line for Team USA for the World Indoor Championships, which will be held March 9-11 in Istanbul, Turkey.

You can also tune in via a live webcast on provided in partnership with RunnerSpace on Sunday from 12:00-4:10 p.m. mountain time. The webcast will feature select events on Sunday.

With the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, the New Mexico Sports Authority, University of New Mexico, the city of Albuquerque and USATF New Mexico all as official hosts, this is the third consecutive year the Albuquerque Convention Center has hosted the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Men’s 3,000m
In the most anticipated race of the night, the Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat match-up in the 3,000m didn’t play out as most would have expected. Rupp, Lagat and Lopez Lamong led the pack and quickly distanced themselves from the rest of the men in the field. However, with 700m to go, Rupp began to show signs that he was laboring and began to fade back from Lagat and Lamong. While the two men entered the bell lap together, Lagat unleashed his signature kick and soared over the final 200m in only 26 seconds. Lamong took the runner-up spot in 7:51.75, while Rupp finished third in 7:57.36.

Men’s Triple Jump
Will Claye jumped the third best indoor mark in American history of 17.63m/57-10.25 to claim his first USA Indoor men’s triple jump title. Claye battled once again with former University of Florida teammate Christian Taylor, who placed second with a mark of 17.21m/56-5.75. Aarik Wilson placed third with a mark of 16.53m/54-2.75.

Claye won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships and his mark Saturday is currently the best in the world.

Women’s Weight Throw
All it took was one throw for Amber Campbell to win her sixth USA Indoor title in the women’s weight throw. On her first attempt of the day, Campbell sent the hammer flying 24.78m/81-3.75 to improve her own USA Indoor Championships record from 2010. Campbell’s mark also sets her atop the women’s standings in the Visa Championship Series. Brittany Riley finished as the runner-up with a toss of 23.88m/78-4.25. Gwendolyn Berry claimed the third spot in 22.80m/74-9.75.

Women’s 3,000m
After Shayla Houlihan lead the first portion of the race, it looked like a repeat of last year’s race as Jenny Simpson and Sara Hall took the lead in the women’s 3,000m. Simpson took the lead with a little more than six laps remaining and never looked back to win her second consecutive USA Indoor 3,000m tile. While it looked like Hall would take the runner-up spot in this race for the fourth time, Jackie Areson passed her on the last lap to take second in 9:20.61. Hall finished a little more than a second behind in 9:21.87. Simpson will return Sunday to defend her title in the 1500m as well.

Men’s Weight Throw
A.G. Kruger won his seventh USA Indoor title in the men’s weight throw with a lob of 24.57m/80-7.5. Kruger sat in second behind Michael Mai for much of the competition before gaining the lead on his fifth attempt. Mai finished second with 23.91m/78-5.5, and Garland Porter took the third spot on the podium with a throw of 23.37m/76-9.25.

Men’s 3,000m Race Walk
Trevor Barron took the lead from the beginning and consistently put distance between himself and the rest of the field in setting a new USA Indoor Championships 3,000m race walk meet record of 11:36.27. Barron, the owner of six American Junior race walk records and the 2010 USATF Youth Athlete of the Year, finished ahead of his coach Tim Seaman (12:01.48) and John Nunn (12:11.86), who finished second and third, respectively. Seaman is the holder of a total of 10 American race walk records and Nunn won the Olympic Trials Men’s 50 km Race Walk in January.

Women’s Pole Vault
Battling through an Achilles injury, Jenn Suhr cleared both 4.67m/15-3.75 and 4.62m/15-1.75 on her first attempts to claim her sixth USA Indoor pole vault championship. Already having established an American record earlier this month with her effort of 4.88m/16-0 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, Suhr made three attempts to improve that record at 4.90m/16-0.75 but was unable to notch another record Saturday. Mary Saxer picked up second place with a vault of 4.62m/15-1.75.

Suhr is also the American outdoor record holder in the event, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist and the 2011 indoor Visa Championship Series winner.

Men’s High Jump
Jesse Williams added a second USA Indoor title to his resume with his winning height of 2.31m/7-7 to claim the men’s high jump. The reigning World Outdoor Championships gold medalist and 2011 Jesse Owens award winner outlasted Jamie Nieto, who placed second at 2.26m/7-5.

Williams cleared the winning height on his final attempt before missing all three attempts at 2.31m/7-7. The No. 1 ranked high jumper in the world after the 2011 season, Williams currently owns the sixth best jump in the world this indoor season.

Women’s Triple Jump
Patience was the name of the game for Amanda Smock as she didn’t take the lead in the women’s triple jump until her fifth attempt. Smock soared 13.77m/45-2.25 to win her first USA Indoor title. Erica McLain finished second in 13.74m/45-1, while Crystal Manning rounded out the podium with a mark of 13.65m/44-9.5.

Nike Men’s 60m Hurdle Prelims
Dexter Faulk ran the fastest time in the world this year by storming to a 7.40 in the third heat of the men’s 60m hurdle prelims. Omoghan Osaghae ran the second fastest time of the day as he won the first heat in 7.53, while David Oliver won the second heat in 7.60.

BMW Men’s 60m Prelims
Justin Gatlin nabbed a U.S. leading time of 6.51 in the preliminary heats of the men’s 60m as he won the first of three heats. Mookie Salaam won the second heat and clocked the second fastest overall qualifying time in 6.58. Calesio Newman advanced automatically by winning the third heat in 6.63.

Nike Women’s 60m Prelims
Tianna Madison continued her fast times in the 60m by clocking the fastest time in the opening round of 7.10 in winning the opening heat. The world leader in the event and close contender for the 2012 indoor Visa Championship Series title, Madison advanced to Sunday’s semi-final along with Lakya Brookins (7.13) and Barbara Pierre (7.14), who each claimed first place in the second and third heats.

Men’s 800m Prelims
Duane Solomon turned in the fastest time of the night to lead the group of six into Sunday’s final of the men’s 800m. Solomon won the third heat with a time of 1:48.81. Also winning their heats were Tevan Everrett and Michael Rutt. Also advancing to the finals was Mark Wieczorek, Kevin Hicks and Christian Gonzalez.

Women’s 800m Prelims
Six women advanced to Sunday’s final in the 800m and were led by Erica Moore, who won the opening heat with the fastest time of the night of 2:03.24. Also picking up wins in the second and third heats, respectively, were Latavia Thomas (2:05.94) and Phoebe Wright (2:05.76). Also advancing to the final were Stephanie Charnigo, Bethany Praska and Lindsey Schnell.

Women’s 400m Prelims
Competing in her first indoor season since 2006, Sanya Richards-Ross ran the fastest time of the night to win the opening heat of the women’s 400m. The current world-leader in the 400m, Richards-Ross turned in a time Saturday of 51.33 to lead the group into Sunday’s final. Also winning their 400m heats were Dee Dee Trotter (52.12) and Natasha Hastings (52.41). Also advancing to the final was Leslie Cole, Jernail Hayes, Monica Hargrove, Shelise Williams and Jessica Cousins.

Men’s 400m Prelims
Frankie Wright turned in the fastest time of the day in the men’s 400m prelims in 46.26 as he won the second heat. Gil Roberts won the first heat in 47.41, while Calvin Smith took heat three in 46.57.

Athlete Quotes

Bernard Lagat, men’s 3,000m
“I came to the last lap and I thought ‘why not?’ I felt good. I came down Thursday and did a run and everything was feeling good. Every time I come here I feel so good. I felt like if I could outlast everyone at the end I would have it. I am the defending world champion and I want to be able to do it again.”

On being 37 years old
“I have been disproving people for years. When I go out for training I am still serious.”

Will Claye, men’s triple jump
“I feel awesome. I am just thankful to come out here healthy. In the past I’ve had a lot of injuries, so to come out here healthy, compete and get a good mark is a blessing.

“My goal this season is to get that American indoor record. They said that I passed Willie Banks on the all time U.S. list. I’m just blessed to be of the same caliber. This will give me confidence for outdoors.

“Me and Christian (Taylor) are bringing the triple jump back to where Al Joyner, Mike Conley, Willie Banks and Kenny Harrison had it back then.”

Amber Campbell, women’s weight throw
“I felt really good about today. I have been really focused on my technique lately. From here I want to work on throwing the hammer really far. This is my sixth USA Indoor title in a row so I am super blessed. I had a lot of people here and that has made this exciting.

On not having the weight throw at the World Indoor Championships
“It is frustrating. I wish they would reconsider having it at the World Championships. They have the hammer so why not the weight throw?”

Jenny Simpson, women’s 3,000m
“I was excited coming here, and nervous coming here. Today was my first of two hard days. It was fun. I’m not going to Turkey (for World Indoors). I think it is important to be here. It is important as an American to run in the USA Championships, but this year I have a big, big task ahead of me, and I need to go home and train hard.”

AG Kruger, men’s weight throw
“Lucky enough, it came together and went far, and that’s good. (On his fouls) It’s kind of our motto ‘last throw, best throw’ so I just went after it. I’m getting ready for outdoors. I want to get that A standard out of the way, then make the Olympic team. We (him and coach) expect really big things this year.”

Trevor Barron, men’s 3,000m race walk
“I’ve been living at altitude for about six months now, so I actually came down a bit for this. I went out a little faster than I probably should have. I felt great at the start, but my technique felt a little choppy. In a race like this, there isn’t much of an opportunity to get into a good rhythm.”

Jenn Suhr, women’s pole vault
“It was a great competition, the girls were doing really great. I did pass some heights; I wanted to save my jumps. I did attempt the record. When you’re feeling good and you’ve got the crowd right there, why not go for it.”

On her Achilles: “It hurts, so I’m going to go get some ice and take care of it.”

Jesse Williams, men’s high jump
“Being able to come here and pull it off is fun. I’m a competitor and I don’t want to lose. Honestly, I didn’t feel good, but it was great how I came out and competed. I’m really happy to be able to win here. I had a difficult day so I was glad to get the win. As long as I can get it together I am going to be good. I have been jumping a lot lately and my legs are pretty tired. You never know with the high jump.”

Amanda Smock, women’s triple jump
“I felt like it was a process. I was trying to be very, very patient. My best jump didn’t come until my fifth and sixth attempts. I’m thankful that I could stay patient and I was just thrilled with the result. I’ve got my bags packed [for World Indoor].