Pre Classic Men — Oh My, What A Mile!

Josh Kerr outran a field worthy of an Olympic final with a bold strike from 600m out. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

EUGENE, OREGON, May 25 — The Bowerman Mile was the most-hyped event of the Prefontaine Classic and it certainly lived up to lofty expectations. World champion Josh Kerr won the race by making a bold move with a lap and a half to go and holding off rival Jakob Ingebrigtsen in a race that was dramatic, fast and deep.

Last year’s Bowerman, part of the season-ending DL Final, had been epic, with Ingebrigtsen (3:43.73) holding off Yared Nuguse (3:43.97) as they became the third- and fourth-fastest men of all time. But Ingebrigtsen, who dealt with an Achilles injury in the offseason, hadn’t raced since then. He spent much of the last several months in a back-and-forth war of words with Kerr, who had pulled off a stunning upset in the Budapest 1500, the Norwegian’s second straight world champs loss after winning the ’21 Olympic gold.

Following a chilly premeet press conference a day earlier, they let their legs do the talking in the final race of the meet. The pace was quick (55.91 and 1:52.74 for Abraham Alvarado), and then Kerr surged to take the lead at the 1000-meter mark.

The confident Scot hit three-quarters in 2:50.70 and pushed to hold his advantage. Over the final lap, Ingebrigtsen was unable to make a dent in Kerr’s slight lead, nor could Nuguse, who was just a few strides behind.

Kerr crossed the line in 3:45.34, the No. 10 time in history, breaking Steve Cram’s British Record of 3:46.32, set in 1985 — 12 years before Kerr was born. Ingebrigtsen (3:45.60) clocked the second-fastest time of his life, as did Nuguse (3:46.22, also the No. 2 U.S. clocking).

Brits Neil Gourley (3:47.74) and Jake Wightman (3:47.83) — both coming back from injuries of their own — looked strong to finish 4th and 5th as 9 men broke 3:50. That total was inferior only to the tally of 11 sub-3:50s in the Bowerman last year.

“I wanted to win and I knew it would take something along those lines to go out and win,” Kerr said. “But I wasn’t focused on the time. I tried to find comfort in that first 800, I was able to find that and then press through the field and then [with] 600 to go I thought, ‘You know what, why not take it on and press and scare myself a little bit?’”

The performance “tells me that I’m still the best 1500-meter runner in the world right now,” said Kerr, who signaled his strength (and gave his already healthy confidence another boost) with a dominant win in the 3000 at the World Indoor in March. But he knows that it’s still early in the season: “These guys I’m racing against are going to get better and better each month, and I need to do the same to try to stay ahead.”

For his part, Ingebrigtsen was pleased with the result. “I think it’s a very good start, definitely better than I was fearing,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve been injured, I lost a lot of training, so you never know 100% how it’s going.”

He plans on attempting the 1500/5000 double at the Olympics, having taken the last two world titles in the longer event. “I think I’m going to win both in Paris,” he said, “but if that is to happen, I really need to have a flawless next two months, which I believe that I’m able to do.”

Nuguse called it “a really good start to the meat and potatoes of the outdoor season” and added that “there’s a little more that I want to do, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not really happy to be really fit and I know that I’m definitely the strongest I’ve been in a long time.”

Shot star Ryan Crouser sat out the meet to prepare for the Olympic Trials, leaving the door open for Joe Kovacs to dominate the event. He opened with 75-6¾ (23.03), then finished his day with 75-10¾ (23.13) in the sixth round, the second-best mark of his career behind the 76-2¾ (23.23) he threw to win the ’22 Diamond League final. Payton Otterdahl was 2nd at 72-8½ (22.16).

“It’s great to have another two marks over 23m. I think there’s a lot more in the tank, but we’re really preparing for the Olympic Trials,” said Kovacs, the world champion in ’15 and ’19. “Today all six of my throws would have won the meet, so to me that means that I’m guarding that bottom end, so that when we go to the Trials, we’re getting the job done.”

Grant Holloway blasted out of the blocks and won the 110H easily in 13.03, the fastest time in the world this year. Daniel Roberts (13.13) and Freddie Crittenden (13.16) were well back in 2nd and 3rd.

“The race is going to be a little sloppy still [at the] end of May, but going forward obviously we’re just going to continue to build off that,” said Holloway, 3-time defending world champion.

Christian Coleman had a good start in the 100 and held off Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala, 9.95–9.98 for his first sub-10.00 of the year. Kenny Bednarek took the 200 comfortably in 19.89, with Courtney Lindsey 2nd in 20.09.

A week after setting a world-leading 46.64 in LA, Rai Benjamin scratched from the long hurdles at Pre, leaving the door open for an upset win by Costa Rica’s Gerald Drummond, a semifinalist at the last two world championships, who came on strong off the final barrier to win in 48.56. Estonia’s Rasmus Mägi (48.85) edged American CJ. Allen (48.99) for 2nd place.

Before the main program, Kenya held its qualifying race for the Olympic 10,000, with Daniel Mateiko prevailing in a sprint to win in a world-leading 26:50.81. Nicholas Kipkorir (26:50.94) snatched the other spot for Paris that was up for grabs, while a third berth will be decided by AK officials.


100(1.2): 1. Christian Coleman (US) 9.95; 2. Ferdinand Omanyala (Ken) 9.98; 3. Brandon Hicklin (US) 10.08; 4. Ackeem Blake (Jam) 10.12; 5. Sandrey Davison (Jam) 10.13 PR; 6. Rikkoi Brathwaite (BVI) 10.19; 7. Benjamin Azamati (Gha) 10.21; 8. Hiroki Yanagita (Jpn) 10.26; 9. Brandon Carnes (US) 10.33.

200(1.8): 1. Kenny Bednarek (US) 19.89; 2. Courtney Lindsey (US) 20.09; 3. Kyree King (US) 20.15; 4. Joe Fahnbulleh (Lbr) 20.16; 5. Alexander Ogando (DR) 20.27; 6. Aaron Brown (Can) 20.47; 7. Jeremiah Curry (US) 20.69; 8. Brandon Carnes (US) 20.83.

Mile: 1. Josh Kerr (GB) 3:45.34 NR (WL) (6, 10 W) (3:30.92 [WL]) (2:50.70) (56.9, 56.5 [1:53.4], 57.3 [2:50.7], 54.6 last 409.35) (13.2, 26.3, 53.2, 1:50.1, 2:46.7);

2. Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Nor) 3:45.60 (3:31.11);

3. Yared Nuguse (US) 3:46.22 (x, 2 A) (3:31.51);

4. Neil Gourley (GB) 3:47.74 PR (3:32.95); 5. Jake Wightman (GB) 3:47.83 PR (3:32.56); 6. Raynold Kipkorir (Ken) 3:48.59 (3:33.78); 7. Cole Hocker (US) 3:48.95 (3:33.43); 8. Geordie Beamish (NZ) 3:49.09 PR (3:34.47 PR); 9. Olli Hoare (Aus) 3:49.11 (3:34.27); 10. Mario García (Spa) 3:50.14 (3:34.28);

11. Cameron Myers (Aus) 3:50.15 NJR (5, 5 WJ) (3:34.69);

12. Abel Kipsang (Ken) 3:51.82 (3:35.71); 13. Lamecha Girma (Eth) 3:53.82 PR (3:38.48); 14. Cooper Teare (US) 3:53.92 (3:38.57);… dnf—Hobbs Kessler (US);… rabbit—Abraham Alvarado (US) (55.91, 56.81 [1:52.74])

(best-ever mark-for-place: 3, 5).

Non-DL 10,000(Kenya OT): 1. Daniel Mateiko (Ken) 26:50.81 PR (WL);

2. Nicholas Kipkorir (Ken) 26:50.94 PR (10:45.42, 13:28.14, 16:10.42, 21:34.22, 24:17.41); 3. Benard Kibet (Ken) 26:51.09 PR (18:51.69); 4. Edwin Kurgat (Ken) 26:51.54 PR; 5. Benson Sigei (Ken) 26:55.09 PR; 6. Kibiwott Kandie (Ken) 26:58.97 PR; 7. Stanley Waithaka (Ken) 27:07.37 PR; 8. Daniel Ebenyo (Ken) 27:24.33; 9. Francis Abong (Ken) 27:37.68 PR; 10. Ronald Kwemoi (Ken) 27:47.72; 11. Peter Mwaniki Aila (Ken) 27:49.43 PR;… rabbit—AJ Ernst (US) (2:41.41, 5:23.00, 8:04.01).

110H(-0.1): 1. Grant Holloway (US) 13.03 (WL);

2. Daniel Roberts (US) 13.13; 3. Freddie Crittenden (US) 13.16; 4. Hansle Parchment (Jam) 13.28; 5. Trey Cunningham (US) 13.29; 6. Asier Martínez (Spa) 13.31; 7. Shunsuke Izumiya (Jpn) 13.33; 8. Jamal Britt (US) 13.36; 9. Cordell Tinch (US) 13.38.

400H: 1. Gerald Drummond (CR) 48.56; 2. Rasmus Mägi (Est) 48.85; 3. CJ Allen (US) 48.99; 4. Roshawn Clarke (Jam) 49.07; 5. Malik James-King (Jam) 49.51; 6. Trevor Bassitt (US) 49.62; 7. Jaheel Hyde (Jam) 49.83.

Field Event

SP: 1. Joe Kovacs (US) 75-10¾ (23.13) (WL) (x, 9 W, A) (73-8¼, 75-6¾, 74-1¾, 73-8¼, 73-11, 75-10¾) (22.46, 23.03, 22.60, 22.46, 22.53, 23.13);

2. Payton Otterdahl (US) 72-8½ (22.16) (70-3¾, 71-10¾, 70-10, 72-8½, 71-1¼, 71-8) (21.43, 21.91, 21.59, 22.16, 21.67, 21.84); 3. Chuk Enekwechi (Ngr) 71-10¾ (21.91) NR (69-10¾, 71-10¾, 71-3½, 70-11¼, 71-3¼, 69-4) (21.30, 21.91, 21.73, 21.62, 21.72, 21.13); 4. Josh Awotunde (US) 70-7¾ (21.53); 5. Tom Walsh (NZ) 69-11¾ (21.33); 6. Roger Steen (US) 68-2¼ (20.78); 7. Rajindra Campbell (Jam) 67-10¼ (20.68); 8. Tripp Piperi (US) 67-5½ (20.56).