CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, February 11 — On a Friday night when a number of the nation’s milers laid siege to times in the event, newly-minted pros Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker proved the best of the best in a humdinger of a race at Wisconsin’s inaugural Windy City Invite.
Teare held off his training mate for the win, 3:50.17–3:50.35 as they solidified their places as Nos. 3 & 4 on the all-time U.S. list (see box). Finishing 3rd was versatile Michigan State senior Morgan Beadlescomb, whose 3:52.03 was a brilliant sub-4:00 debut. (Continued below)
Racing on the new fast 200-meter banked track at Gately Park, the erstwhile Oregon teammates — who still train together under Duck coach Ben Thomas — made a spirited run at the 17-year-old AR of 3:49.89 by Bernard Lagat, who was there watching with his Arizona team.
That they didn’t get the record made it no less a race in what was dubbed “The Magnificent Mile” and was just that, easily the fastest ever on Illinois soil. A crowd of some 4000 oohed and aahed through introductions and the race itself, with the enthusiasm of the largely high school-age crowd stoked by veteran announcer Mike Jay.
Pacers Matt Wisner and James West took the small 5-man field through a slowish 30.44 split for the first 209m, but then picked it up en route to a 58.80 “quarter” with Hocker, Teare and Beadlescomb stringing behind, just tenths back. They went through the “half” at 1:56.99.
Wisner stepped off and West led them through the “three quarters” in 2:54.96 before dropping, and the race was afoot. Teare made his move — a strong confident one with good arm action — on Hocker early on the backstretch with about 300 left, and maintained that edge through the finish. He closed with a 54.96 for the final 400 and 26.69 for the last lap as Hocker was a tick back.
Said the 22-year-old Teare, “I didn’t feel fantastic, even right off the rip today, but it’s about just staying focused and working towards that goal. You know, you’re never gonna feel your best all the time.”
“I’d say tonight was like a 9 out of 10,” opined the 20-year-old Hocker. “Of course, 10 would be winning and getting the American Record.”
The duo’s race strategy was simple: count on the pacers and then run fast enough to get the record.
“Sometimes some of it’s planned,” Hocker said “And then some of it’s racing where you never know what’s gonna happen. But with these setup kind of pace races, we have more control over some of the variables. So, we had a little bit of a race strategy with our two pacers in front and then Morgan. He definitely threw in an extra element of adding that race feeling, which is just so awesome and made for a fast race.”
An Olympian and now a pro, Indianapolis native Hocker has a seriousness of purpose that belies his 20 years. “I’m very confident in my abilities and I definitely feel like I’m still fine tuning where I’m at. But if there’s someone that’s gonna test me, it’s my teammate because he always shows up every day.”
Teare was upbeat after his win, posing for selfies with kids. “We want the best for each other,” he noted. “I think we have to. That’s part of the relationship people don’t see. When we get out there, it’s pretty cutthroat. It makes us more hungry in training, so you know, we have such a back and forth, and I think it’s pretty cool.”
After his 4th in the 5K in last year’s Trials, Teare admitted he’s trying to make a statement. “For sure, I think we have something to prove at the end of the day again. We’re kind of coming in, the new kids on the block in terms of pro racing, but I think it’s kind of nice that we got to dip our toe in it a little bit last year. Cole definitely did on the world stage and I got some of the experience at the Trials.
“I feel like I was right there,” Teare said. “We went from being in college and doing it for the fun of it. Now, it’s my job. So, you know, there’s just not much more pressure, but I mean every day, we’re kind of just getting it in and looking at the big picture.
“It’s not really about one little goal. It’s about making World Champs and being competitive there. I think each of these races is kind of a stepping stone towards there. We’ve got to learn to run different races. I think we’re kind of used to running from the front like we did in college, just being able to come dominate races. Now we’re gonna have to kind of learn to sit back and respect our elders a little bit and just be able to kind of adapt and go with it.
“I don’t want to act like I know everything because I definitely don’t. I just go out there and give my all. I hope it works out and a lot of it’s got me this far. I’m just gonna keep doing that and learn from my mistakes and even from my elders and then try to beat them. At a certain point, we’re gonna become the elders, so you want to do that when you’re younger than older.”
Said the surprising Beadlescomb, who moved to No. 4 on the all-time collegiate list, “The whole goal of this race was to get in over my skis and handle it. We started slow, we started really slow which the pacers handled like pros, just cranked us down calmly. They didn’t panic, which is huge on their part.
“Nobody was talking about me being a contender in this. So with 200m to go, I decided to make myself a contender, put my name in the hat and see what happened. It’s not anywhere near the end of our season, we’re not anywhere near peaking, but I wanted to show people.”