Millrose Games Men — Kejelcha Scares Mile World Record

A mere 0.01 faster would have seen Yomif Kejelcha equaling the mile’s World Indoor Record. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

New York City, February 09—Yomif Kejelcha was the star of the 112th edition of the Millrose Games, but he had considerable competition for that title. The U.S.-based Ethiopian, 21, scared the World Record in the mile at the Armory, coming up an excruciating 100th of a second shy of equaling the all-time fastest. Meanwhile, Michael Saruni of Kenya became history’s second-fastest 800 runner and American shot putter Ryan Crouser moved to No. 4 on the all-time list in his event.

But Kejelcha saved the best for last, following an aggressive pace and holding on for a 3:48.46 clocking in the Wanamaker Mile, the meet’s climactic event. The 2-time world indoor 3000 champ was a whisker shy of Hicham El Guerrouj’s hallowed ’97 best of 3:48.45.

The pace was hot early, with rabbit Rob Napolitano leading through the quarter in 54.7. He was due to pace the field to 1000m, but Kejelcha, who trains under Alberto Salazar as part of the Nike Oregon Project, grew impatient and moved ahead at 700. He hit halfway in 1:52.0 and was well clear of challengers Clayton Murphy and Edward Cheserek. After flying through the 1320 in 2:50.3 and the 1500 in 3:33.17 (good for =No. 6 on the all-time list), it looked like Kejelcha had a shot at the mark. Alas, he had to settle for the No. 2 spot ever and an absolute Ethiopian Record. “The beginning was a little bit too fast,” he said. “I think I felt that at the end.” Cheserek won a back-and-forth battle with Murphy for the runner-up slot, his 3:53.29 just ahead of the American’s PR 3:53.30.

Though Kejelcha plans to focus on the 5000 and 10,000 outdoors, he vowed to take another swing at the indoor mile WR this winter. “I only missed it by a little bit,” he said. “I believe the second time it will happen.”

The 800 also lived up to premeet hype for a fast race. Following the rabbit, Michigander Donavan Brazier came through halfway in 49.89 and continued to push past 600 (1:16.21). Finally, with about 75m to go, Saruni—the NCAA Indoor champ last year for UTEP—closed down on the American and used the momentum off the final curve to snatch the lead. He broke the tape in 1:43.98, second only to a pair of marks by WR holder Wilson Kipketer of Denmark.

Brazier was rewarded for his bravado with an American Record 1:44.41. That took down the ancient 1:45.00 standard that Johnny Gray set back in ’92. “I was really looking forward to this race, so when you have a lot of adrenaline on your side it doesn’t feel too bad,” Brazier said of the blazing early pace. “But it definitely does catch up to you. That last 150 I was just trying to move. I know my posture was getting sloppy, but I was trying to hold it as best I can.”

The men’s shot was contested in the center of the oval, a flashy showcase not seen in the iconic meet since it was held at Madison Square Garden. Olympic gold medalist Ryan Crouser set the tone immediately with a 70-10½ (21.60) in the opening round. His next two throws—70-¼ (21.34) and 70-7 (21.51) were both over 70—before he exploded in the fourth round with a monster toss of 73-3¼ (22.33), the world’s best undercover mark since ’08. Only Randy Barnes, Ulf Timmermann and Adam Nelson have ever thrown farther undercover. Crouser finished off his remarkable series with heaves of 71-9½ (21.88) and 70-2¼ (21.39). “Stoked with today’s opener,” he said. “First time I’ve had 6 throws over 70-feet indoors, really happy with the consistency.”

Grant Fisher of Stanford narrowly held off Wisconsin’s Morgan McDonald to win the men’s 3000. Fisher set an American CR of 7:42.62 and he and McDonald (7:42.76) moved to the No. 3 and 4 spots on the all-time collegiate list.

The arena’s collective heart stopped early in the race when pacer Kemoy Campbell collapsed into the infield unconscious. Medical personnel worked with a defibrillator for a gut-wrenching period before the Jamaican was stretchered off to the hospital. Hopeful indications came through a few hours later with a Jamaica Gleaner report Kemoy’s condition was stable and a tweet from teammate Aisha Praught Leer: “I saw @RayPFlynn [the stricken runner’s agent Ray Flynn] in the hotel lobby. He says Kemoy’s CT scan and echocardiogram were clear. That’s all I know for now.” [As of Tuesday, February 12, medical details had not been announced but, heartening sign, video of Campbell walking for the first time since his collapse was posted on Twitter].

Click here for Millrose women’s coverage


New York City, February 09 (200 banked)—

60: 1. John Teeters (US) 6.56; 2. Ameer Webb (US) 6.66; 3. Tevin Hester (US) 6.69; 4. Kevaughn Rattray (Jam) 6.73; 5. Jermaine Brown (Jam) 6.75;

6. Seth Boomsma (US) 6.75; 7. Chris Royster (US) 6.77; 8. Darien Johnson (US) 6.87.

400: 1. Marcus Chambers (US) 46.99; 2. Dontavius Wright (US) 47.04 PR; 3. Brycen Spratling (US) 47.37 PR; 4. Daniel Jamieson (Jam) 49.46 PR;… dnf—Lalonde Gordon (Tri).

800: 1. Michael Saruni (Ken) 1:43.98 NR (WL) (2, 3 W) (24.82, 25.59 [50.41], 26.22 [1:16.63], 27.35) (50.41/53.57);

2. Donavan Brazier (US) 1:44.41 AR (old AR 1:45.00 Johnny Gray [SMTC] ’92) (5, 8 W) (24.60, 24.29 [49.89], 26.32 [1:16.21], 28.20) (49.89/54.52);

3. Sam Ellison (US) 1:46.13 PR; 4. Joe White (US) 1:46.59 PR; 5. Erik Sowinski (US) 1:46.61; 6. Drew Windle (US) 1:49.35.

Mile: 1. Yomif Kejelcha (Eth) 3:48.46 NR (WL) (2, 2 W) (3:33.17 [WL]—=6, =9 W);

2. Edward Cheserek (Ken) 3:53.29 (3:37.71);

3. Clayton Murphy (US) 3:53.30 (AL) (3:37.40 AL [8, x A]);

4. Josh Kerr (GB) 3:53.65 (3:38.75); 5. Craig Engels (US) 3:54.18 (3:38.94); 6. Nick Willis (NZ) 3:54.80 (3:39.16); 7. Oliver Hoare (Aus-Wis) 3:54.83 (CL) (6, 8 C) (3:39.50 CL =8, =9 C);

8. Johnny Gregorek (US) 3:55.52 (3:39.49); 9. Riley Masters (US) 3:58.55 (3:41.19); 10. Sam Prakel (US) 3:59.36 (3:42.98);… dnf—Robby Andrews (US).

Open Mile: 1. Amos Bartelsmeyer (Ger) 3:59.75; 2. David Timlin (US) 4:01.99; 3. Julian Oakley (NZ) 4:02.07;

4. Peter Callahan (Bel) 4:02.26; 5. Will Leer (US) 4:02.34; 6. Daniel Winn (US) 4:02.47; 7. Colin Daly (US) 4:03.82.

3000: 1. Grant Fisher (US-Stan) 7:42.62 PR AmCR (old AmCR 7:44.91 Eric Jenkins [Oregon] ’15) (AL, CL) (3, 3 C; in/out: 4, 4 C; 2, 2 AmC);

2. Morgan McDonald (Aus-Wis) 7:42.76 PR (4, 4 C; in-out: 5, 5 C); 3. Amon Kemboi (Ken-Camp) 7:44.77 PR (7, 7 C);

4. Eric Avila (US) 7:48.03 PR; 5. Patrick Tiernan (Aus) 7:48.36 PR; 6. Travis Mahoney (US) 7:48.72 PR; 7. Brian Barraza (US) 7:49.95 PR; 8. Graham Crawford (US) 7:50.98 PR; 9. Jacob Thomson (US) 7:54.34; 10. Ben Flanagan (Can) 7:54.40; 11. Jack Bruce (Aus) 7:57.71.

60H: 1. Devon Allen (US) 7.61; 2. Freddie Crittenden (US) 7.61 PR; 3. Chad Zallow (US) 7.69; 4. Josh Thompson (US) 7.71; 5. Trey Holloway (US) 7.72; 6. Johnathan Cabral (Can) 7.83; 7. Ryan Fontenot (US) 7.83; 8. Ryan Billian (US) 7.96; 9. Kirk Lewis (Bah) 7.99.

MileW: 1. Nick Christie (US) 5:55.58 PR; 2. Emmanuel Corvera (US) 6:09.87.

Field Events

SP: 1. Ryan Crouser (US) 73-3¼ (22.33) (WL, AL) (4, 4 W; 2, 3 A) (70-10½, 70-¼, 70-7, 73-3¼, 71-9½, 70-2¼) (21.60, 21.34, 21.51, 22.33, 21.88, 21.39);

2. Joe Kovacs (US) 68-5¼ (20.86); 3. Ashinia Miller (Jam) 67-4¾ (20.54); 4. Josh Awotunde (US) 66-4¼ (20.22); 5. Curtis Jensen (US) 64-3¼ (19.59).

Wt(2/07): 1. Conor McCullough (US) 76-3 (23.24); 2. Adam Kelly (US) 73-11 (22.53); 3. Rudy Winkler (US) 72-6¼ (22.10).

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