Pre Classic Men — Crouser’s Putting Stands Out In Impressive Collection Of Events

Ryan Crouser’s 73-11 turned back the best shot field of the year. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

Picking the first among superlatives in the cornucopia of men’s performances at the Prefontaine Classic frequently challenges both those roaring their approval in the stands and the meet management that puts it all together. So it was for the final edition of this meet at a Hayward Field Steve Prefontaine would mostly recognize. (See Jack Pfeifer’s story on the women’s side of the meet here.)

Fittingly, Oregon native Ryan Crouser won Athlete Of The Meet. Although the Olympic champion’s massive 73-11 (22.53) put did not gain him the world lead—as 5 other men did with their wins here—it dispatched a field with pedigrees to match the physical size of its members.

In the “center stage” ring, starting mid-meet with the stands packed with 12,667 exuberant fans, Crouser, who earned 6 Oregon prep titles at Hayward (Pre won 3), spun his first throw out to 72-1½ (21.98). He subsequently launched his 5 legal throws long enough to win, and sent his round-5 best out to a U.S.-leading 73-11.

With the No. 7 all-time U.S. put and second-longest of his career, a quarter-inch longer than his Olympic Record toss, Crouser topped Michal Haratyk’s 72-1 (21.97) Polish Record in frame 6, surprising Darlan Romani’s 72-¼ (21.95) Brazilian Record in the fifth round and foul-troubled reigning world champ Tom Walsh’s 71-8 (21.84, the best-ever mark for 4th) in round 2.

Among other world or Olympic winners down the order were Ryan Whiting (2 World Indoor crowns), David Storl (2 Worlds wins) and Joe Kovacs (’15 World titlist).

No wonder Crouser flashed a thumbs-up to the Hayward faithful.

“Friends and family were here and a lot of them have ties to Hayward Field,” he said. “So it was just really special at the last Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field to be able to go out and set a record like that and be Athlete Of The Meet.” The Crouser clan’s story here is well known.

Happy to be finding his rhythm after a hand injury over the winter, Crouser said of the big throw, “It was there, I was just knocking on the door the whole time and I just lined stuff up a little bit better and was a little bit more patient.”



Saying he was still working through “early-season jitters,” after 8 winter weeks in which he could not throw, Crouser mentioned a familiar and apt analogy: “Kind of like a golf swing, I’m going back and just muscling it through instead of just going back and swinging it through easy.

“So the last 3 throws I toned it down a little bit and just let it happen.”

Crouser says he has only just begun the ’18 fight: “Once I get a few more competitions, get loose, relaxed and comfortable in the ring, I think you’ll start seeing some really far throws.”

In a season that could see Crouser and list leader Walsh (74-4½/22.67) challenging the World Record, the American points to a key indicator, best stand throw in practice: “In Rio I threw, I think 18.30, so just over 60ft,” he says, “and I just hit over 20m in practice, so I’m up about a-meter-70, and threw the same [competition] distance today as I did in Rio.

“So there’s a lot of potential there once I can get to use it. So it’s a little bit frustrating but I just gotta trust the process and keep working.”

Noah Lyles claimed a share of the yearly 200 lead with his PR 19.69. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

The 200 saw young Noah Lyles drop his 19.90 PR from last year to 19.69 in a thorough trouncing of ’17 Worlds bronze medalist Jereem Richards (20.05) and a group that included world champion Ramil Guliyev (7th in 20.57).

Lyles, at age 20 now a winner of 4 Diamond League half-laps in two seasons and the event’s ’17 series champ, took full advantage of a just-legal 2.0 wind. In lane 7 he ran through the first half inches behind ’17 list leader Isaac Makwala to his outside, and when the Botswanan pulled up injured at the head of the straight, the American streaked away to equal the altitude-aided world lead of Clarence Munyai.

“I’m in love with the time,” Lyles said. “I said earlier I’m a little scared because I didn’t expect to run this fast this soon. So it just means the rest of the season is going to be even faster.”

Scared? Just a figure of speech. “I was injured last year,” Lyles explained, “so I thought it might take maybe two more races before I got up there to 19.6. But my body is just shocking me, to be honest.”

What did Lyles like about the run? “The start. That first 50 and all around that turn I felt that I got out and I was powerful, something that I’ve been working on for years. I’m glad that today it was able to come together.”

The rise of a new young sprint corps with Usain Bolt now retired has been much discussed. Indoor 60 WR-setter Christian Coleman has been right at the center of it along with Lyles. But 100 winner Ronnie Baker, who is 24, thinks he belongs too and made his case with a 9.78w win that might have lowered his own world lead but for a 2.4mps breeze.

Baker, in lane 5 with Coleman to his left, started nearly as well as the Tennessee alum favorite, who opened a small margin in the first half, but over the final 40 it was ’16 TCU grad Baker who sprinted clear.

Although Baker’s college career lacked the titles that Coleman put up, he won the Pre 100 last year, took 60 bronze at the World Indoor in March and dashed to the world lead with 9.97 at Mt. SAC in April.

“My goal this year is to win every race every time I step on the line,” said the Darryl Anderson-coached Baker. “There’s not really a time in mind, there’s not really anything I’m shooting for as far as time goals but I just want to win every single race.”

Also striding to the top of the ’18 lists in their events were Timothy Cheruiyot in the always stellar Bowerman Mile (3:49.87), steeplechaser Benjamin Kigen (8:09.07) and 18-year-old 2-miler Selemon Barega (8:20.01), whose full-throttle charge in the cool, breezy Friday evening session came over the final two laps with closing figures of 1:56.53 and 54.83.

The ’17 No. 2 World Ranker at 1500, Cheruiyot won from Ethiopian 18-year-old Samuel Tefera (3:51.26), world champion Elijah Manangoi (3:52.18) and an age-17 record from Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen (3:52.28) as Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz placed 6th in 3:53.61, his fastest mile since the ’16 Millrose Games.

While a case could be made that the magnitude of teen Tefera’s run was overlooked amid oohs and ahhs over that of the 11-months-younger Ingebrigtsen, that was understandable in light of the Norwegian’s kick over the last circuit. He rushed through that lap in 55.41, 0.24 faster than Cheruiyot, and at one point in the homestretch looked like he might collar Manangoi.

“I wasn’t quite expecting the race to be that fast,” said Ingebrigtsen, who camped at the very back of the strung out field for the first two laps. “I felt the first pace was a bit risky the first couple laps but then I had a lot more to give the last lap so I felt really good coming into the homestretch.”

Kigen, 4th in the Kenyan World Champs Trials last year in his first season of steeplechasing, dropped a blistering surge on the final backstretch so full of pace he appeared to teeter on the edge of control over the barriers and final water jump while building a more than 15m lead on Olympic/World champ Conseslus Kipruto and U.S. ace Evan Jager (both timed in 8:11.71).

The German javelin juggernaut was led by Thomas Röhler, who said, “The fans were really behind it, so it was fun to throw today.” (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

On the field, two competitions that did not produce world-leading marks—the javelin and triple jump—compensated with drama and quality.

Despite sub-60 temperatures and shifting winds, Friday evening’s javelin competition featuring the season’s three 90m/300ft men, all Germans, saw a pair of 89m-plus heaves, long-arching throws of quality rarely seen on these shores and magnificent to watch.

In round 3 world champion Johannes Vetter, sprawling on the runway after launch, sent his spear out to 293-1 (89.34) and in the next frame Rio gold medalist Thomas Röhler answered with the winner, 294-10 (89.88). The spectacle wasn’t quite over yet as in round 6 Andreas Hofmann solidified his hold on 3rd with a 283-7 (86.45) throw.

“The [7500] fans were really behind it so it was fun to throw today,” said Röhler, who then assessed the evening: “It was challenging. We started with a strong tailwind, ended with a crosswind, had a headwind from time to time. So this is why we’ve been all switching the javelins from time to time so we tried to adapt to it. It was about hitting the javelin right and this is what we’re happy about with the 4th round.”

With a field of Olympic or Worlds final quality, Röhler added, the Pre meet “is where I said you have to be prepared coming to throw the javelin this year.”

Although neither TJer plans many (and perhaps no) more jumps competitions in this “off year,” Christian Taylor and Will Claye pulled out the stops for their final appearances at Hayward Field as we know it.

The year’s Brazilian find, 24-year-old Almir dos Santos, claimed an early lead with a 56-11¼ (17.35) jump in the second round. World Indoor champ Claye bettered dos Santos first, with leaps of 57-2¾ (17.44) and 57-3½w (17.46) in the next two rounds. But nobody who has watched the Claye-versus-Taylor show for the past 7 years assumed the game was over. It wasn’t.

“This is my style, I like to put on a show,” said Taylor afterwards. “Will and I have been doing this since Florida days so the back and forth I’m very familiar with.”

With two Olympic golds and three Worlds golds in his collection, Taylor know how to bring the “forth.” He inched closer with 56-10w (17.32) and 57-¼ (17.38) bounds in rounds 4 and 5, then reached deep on his last jump and soared 58-2 (17.73), a seasonal best, to take it.



“I was quite surprised myself,” said Taylor of his distance. “I’m really focused on [his goal of] 44 seconds [in the 400], every week I’m really chasing this, but I’ve jumped so long, so many years, so I do know the triple jump and love to compete. So if I’m pushed then I rise to the occasion.”

Taylor’s training coming in consisted of “500s, 400s,” not much jumping.

“I ran really well in Shanghai [45.24] and this was some really good momentum to come here,” he said. “It’s Hayward Field. There’s magic in the track, there’s magic in the stands. It’s not that you don’t have to prepare to come here, but there is something special about competing here. Special things happen.”


PREFONTAINE CLASSIC MEN’S RESULTS

Diamond League; Eugene, Oregon, May 25-26 (attendance 7500/12,667)—

5/25—800, 2M, PV, JT)

100(2.4): 1. Ronnie Baker (US) 9.78w (a-c WL, AL) (a-c: =12, x W; =5, x A);

2. Christian Coleman (US) 9.84w; 3. Reece Prescod (GB) 9.88w; 4. Bingtian Su (Chn) 9.90w; 5. Isiah Young (US) 9.94w; 6. CJ Ujah (GB) 10.12w; 7. Ben Youssef Meité (CI) 10.13w; 8. Gavin Smellie (Can) 10.16w.

200(2.0): 1. Noah Lyles (US) 19.69 PR (AL; =WL; lo-alt WL) (=10, 30 W; 7, =12 A);

2. Jereem Richards (Tri) 20.05; 3. Aaron Brown (Can) 20.07; 4. Anaso Jobodwana (SA) 20.42; 5. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (GB) 20.51; 6. Ameer Webb (US) 20.56; 7. Ramil Guliyev (Tur) 20.57;… dnf—Isaac Makwala (Bot).

800: 1. Emmanuel Korir (Ken) 1:45.16; 2. Nijel Amos (Bot) 1:45.51; 3. Wycliffe Kinyamal (Ken) 1:46.14; 4. Kipyegon Bett (Ken) 1:46.46; 5. Kyle Langford (GB) 1:46.53; 6. Adam Kszczot (Pol) 1:46.64; 7. Ferguson Cheruiyot (Ken) 1:46.90; 8. Erik Sowinski (US) 1:46.91;… rabbit—Harun Abda (US) (49.85).

Non-DL International Mile: 1. Luke Mathews (Aus) 3:57.02 (Pre sub-4:00 performance #400); 2. Drew Hunter (US) 3:57.29; 3. Henry Wynne (US) 3:57.61 PR; 4. Fouad El Kaam (Mor) 3:58.00; 5. Izaic Yorks (US) 3:58.04 PR; 6. Riley Masters (US) 3:58.12 (Hayward Field sub-4:00 performance #500); 7. Pat Casey (US) 3:58.26; 8. Colby Alexander (US) 3:58.38; 9. Eric Avila (US) 3:58.51; 10. Blake Haney (US) 3:58.70 PR; 11. Henrik Ingebrigtsen (Nor) 3:58.72; 12. James Magut (Ken) 3:58.74; 13. Brodey Hasty (US) 4:04.53 (out AJL, HSL);… rabbits—Casimir Loxsom (US) (58.12 [409m], 2:00.14 [809m], Elijah Kiptoo (Ken) 3:00.94 [1209m]).

Bowerman Mile: 1. Timothy Cheruiyot (Ken) 3:49.87 (WL) (3:35.05); 2. Samuel Tefera (Eth) 3:51.26 PR (WJL) (9, 9 WJ) (3:35.39) (2:53.5);

3. Elijah Manangoi (Ken) 3:52.18 (3:36.74); 4. Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Nor) 3:52.28 PR (age-17 record) (11, x WJ) (3:37.25 NJR);

5. Clayton Murphy (US) 3:53.40 (=AL; out AL (3:38.93);

6. Matthew Centrowitz (US) 3:53.61 (3:38.71); 7. Bethwel Birgen (Ken) 3:54.60 (3:38.60); 8. Ayanleh Souleiman (Dji) 3:55.87 (3:38.46); 9. Thiago André (Bra) 3:56.03 (3:38.92); 10. Aman Wote (Eth) 3:56.49 (3:40.59); 11. Ben Blankenship (US) 3:56.67 (3:40.17); 12. Craig Engels (US) 4:01.70 (3:44.95); 13. Johnny Gregorek (US) 4:02.01 (3:44.07); 14. Silas Kiplagat (Ken) 4:04.77 (3:46.72); 15. Vincent Kibet (Ken) 4:06.29 (3:48.17);… rabbits—Jackson Kivuva (Ken) (56.1), Andrew Rotich (Ken) (1:55.9).

St: 1. Benjamin Kigen (Ken) 8:09.07 PR (WL);

2. Conseslus Kipruto (Ken) 8:11.71;

3. Evan Jager (US) 8:11.71 (AL);

4. Amos Kirui (Ken) 8:15.23; 5. Nicholas Bett (Ken) 8:15.52; 6. Jairus Birech (Ken) 8:18.76; 7. Hillary Bor (US) 8:21.51; 8. Paul Kipsiele Koech (Ken) 8:23.22; 9. Andy Bayer (US) 8:29.70; 10. Tesfaye Deriba (Eth) 8:33.36;… rabbit—Haron Lagat (US) (2:43.44).

2M: 1. Selemon Barega (Eth) 8:20.01 PR (WL) (WJL) (7:51.27); 2. Paul Chelimo (US) 8:20.91 PR (AL) (7:51.43—out AL);

3. Birhanu Yemataw (Bhr) 8:21.54 PR (7:51.76); 4. Mo Ahmed (Can) 8:22.29 PR (7:52.06); 5. Henrik Ingebrigtsen (Nor) 8:22.31 PR (7:51.93); 6. Ryan Hill (US) 8:22.36 PR (7:52.56); 7. Eric Jenkins (US) 8:23.50 PR (7:52.45); 8. Ben True (US) 8:23.76 PR (7:52.36); 9. Emmanuel Bor (US) 8:23.96 PR (7:52.58); 10. Hassan Mead (US) 8:24.09 PR (7:51.87); 11. Jacob Kiplimo (Uga) 8:25.17 PR (7:53.46); 12. Albert Rop (Bhr) 8:25.44 PR (7:52.57); 13. Muktar Edris (Eth) 8:26.11 PR (7:52.60); 14. Shadrack Kipchirchir (US) 8:28.38 PR (7:53.32 PR); 15. Edward Cheserek (Ken) 8:31.43 PR (7:56.31 PR); 16. Richard Yator (Ken) 8:31.92 PR (7:57.52); 17. Paul Tanui (Ken) 8:33.44 PR (7:58.44); … rabbits—Kirubel Erassa (US), Lopez Lomong (US).

110H(3.0): 1. Omar McLeod (Jam) 13.01w (a-c WL);

2. Sergey Shubenkov (Rus) 13.08w;

3. Devon Allen (US) 13.13w (a-c AL);

4. Orlando Ortega (Spa) 13.17w; 5. Ronald Levy (Jam) 13.26w; 6. Aries Merritt (US) 13.27w; 7. Andy Pozzi (GB) 13.51w; 8. Aleec Harris (US) 13.52w.

Field Events

HJ: 1. Mutaz Barshim (Qat) 7-8¾ (2.36) (7-5, 7-6, 7-7¼, 7-8¾ [3], 7-11¼ [xxx]) (2.26, 2.29, 2.32, 2.36 [3], 2.42 [xxx]); 2. Danil Lysenko (Rus) 7-7¼ (2.32); 3. Yu Wang (Chn) 7-7¼; 4. Erik Kynard (US) 7-6 (2.29); 5. Jeron Robinson (US) 7-5; 6. Andrii Protsenko (Ukr) 7-5 (2.26); 7. Mateusz Przybylko (Ger) 7-5; 8. Donald Thomas (Bah) 7-3 (2.21).

PV: 1. Sam Kendricks (US) 19-¾ (5.81) (17-9, 18-2¾, 18-8¾ [3], 19-¾, 19-4¼ [xxx]) (5.41, 5.56, 5.71 [3], 5.81, 5.90 [xxx]); 2. Mondo Duplantis (Swe) 18-8¾ (5.71); 3. Piotr Lisek (Pol) 18-8¾; 4. Paweł Wojciechowski (Pol) 18-2¾ (5.56); 5. Renaud Lavillenie (Fra) 18-2¾; 6. Shawn Barber (Can) 17-9 (5.41);… nh—Changrui Xue (Chn), Thiago Braz (Bra), Raphael Holzdeppe (Ger).

TJ: 1. Christian Taylor (US) 58-2 (17.73) (55-11, 54-7½, 56-6¾, 56-10w, 57-¼, 58-2) (17.04, 16.65, 17.24, 17.32w, 17.38, 17.73); 2. Will Claye (US) 57-3½w (17.46) (56-1¼, 55-9, 56-6¾, 57-2¾, 57-3½w, 56-1¼) (17.10, 16.99, 17.24, 17.44, 17.46w, 17.10); 3. Almir dos Santos (Bra) 56-11¼ (17.35) (f, 56-11¼, 56-2, 56-2, 56-5¼w, 47-7¼) (f, 17.35, 17.12, 17.12, 17.20w, 14.51); 4. Alexis Copello (Aze) 56-6¾ (17.24) (55-10¼w, f, 56-6¾, f, f, 51-4¼) (17.02w, f, 17.24, f, f, 15.65); 5. Bin Dong (Chn) 56-6 (17.22); 6. Max Heß (Ger) 55-7½ (16.95); 7. Nelson Évora (Por) 55-6½ (16.93); 8. Chris Benard (US) 55-4¾ (16.88); 9. Jean-Marc Pontvianne (Fra) 51-4½ (15.66).

SP: 1. Ryan Crouser (US) 73-11 (22.53) (AL) (x, 7 A) (72-1½, 71-7¼, f, 72-7, 73-11, 71-11¾) (21.98, 21.82, f, 22.12, 22.53, 21.94);

2. Michał Haratyk (Pol) 72-1 (21.97) NR (69-2½, 70-6½, 70-½, 67-10¾, f, 72-1) (21.09, 21.50, 21.35, 20.69, f, 21.97); 3. Darlan Romani (Bra) 72-¼ (21.95) NR (f, 70-11¼, 70-8, 67-11¾, 72-¼, f) (f, 21.62, 21.54, 20.72, 21.95, f); 4. Tom Walsh (NZ) 71-8 (21.84) (71-½, 71-8, 69-11¾, f, f, f) (21.65, 21.84, 21.33, f, f, f);5. Darrell Hill (US) 69-6¼ (21.19); 6. Ryan Whiting (US) 67-8¾ (20.64); 7. David Storl (Ger) 67-2¾ (20.49); 8. Joe Kovacs (US) 66-9¾ (20.36); 9. Konrad Bukowiecki (Pol) 66-¼ (20.12); 10. Stipe Žunić (Cro) 65-4 (19.91).

(best-ever mark-for-place: 4)

JT: 1. Thomas Röhler (Ger) 294-10 (89.88) (f, 278-3, f, 294-10, f, f) (f, 84.82, f, 89.88, f, f); 2. Johannes Vetter (Ger) 293-1 (89.34) (f, 289-11, 293-1, 264-11, f, f) (f, 88.37, 89.34, 80.74, f, f); 3. Andreas Hofmann (Ger) 283-7 (86.45) (282-2, 274-1, 282-8, f, f, 283-7) (86.01, 83.54, 86.17, f, f, 86.45); 4. Jakub Vadlejch (CzR) 280-2 (85.40); 5. Magnus Kirt (Est) 272-9 (83.13); 6. Neeraj Chopra (Ind) 265-1 (80.81); 7. Ahmed Bader Magour (Qat) 256-5 (78.16); 8. Petr Frydrych (CzR) 228-7 (69.67).

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