The Millrose Games Tops This Weekend’s Watch List

Yomif Kejelcha heads into Millrose with mile WR thoughts. His 2 previous miles this season were fast-time wins: a 3:52.61 in Seattle and a 3:51.70 in Boston (above). (KEVIN MORRIS)

As we hit the second weekend of February, action continues to ramp up at all levels of competition, with Saturday’s 112th Millrose Games likely to dominate headlines:

Millrose To End With A Big Bang?

The Armory’s biggest meet features a banner line-up of top talent. Among the storylines: Can Yomif Kejelcha threaten the World Record in the Wanamaker Mile? “I think I might be able to do it,” he says. Or will Clayton Murphy, Edward Cheserek and veteran Nick Willis somehow make things tougher for him? Can Colleen Quigley defend the women’s mile crown, narrowly won last year in a close finish with Kate Grace? This time she will also face German Kontstanze Klosterhalfen and she’s excited about it, explaining, “It’s that energy from the crowd and the hype and everything–you just feed off that energy. It gets you really hyped.” Can Emma Coburn this time top her training partner, Aisha Praught Leer, in the 3000? She says, “It’s whoever is better on that day.”

Prominent in Millrose advertising has been 16-year-old Katelyn Tuohy, who will be running the prep mile. Just two weeks ago she set a national record 9:01.81 in the 3000. Distance fans will get another thrill from the men’s 3000, featuring college stars Morgan McDonald and Grant Fisher along with Patrick Tiernan, Justyn Knight and Hassan Mead.

The hype is also heavy on Ajee’ Wilson, who is expected to chase teammate Charlene Lipsey’s American Record of 1:58.64, set two years ago. “I know that it will be a tough race with the talent and strength of the other girls running,” she says. The men’s 800 looks promising, with Donavan Brazier and Kenyan Michael Saruni. Joining them will be Isaiah Harris, the ’18 NCAA champion in his first full season as a pro.

Big Collegiate Matchups At Tyson Invitational

Some of the nation’s best collegians will be going head-to-head in Fayetteville. On the women’s side, the USC and LSU sprinters will be tangling. Georgia’s defending NCAA champion Lynna Irby will run the 400 against Florida’s Sharrika Barnett. The 4×4 looks like an NCAA final: Florida, Alabama, USC, Arkansas and Georgia. The men’s side looks equally thrilling. The 200 will feature Jaron Flournoy of LSU (20.63 last week) and USC’s Eric Allen (also 20.63 last week, but at lower altitude). And the men’s 4×4? Iowa, USC, LSU, Florida (with Grant Holloway’s only appearance of the meet) and Baylor—another dry run for the NCAA meet. Don’t overlook the vault either, with Chris Nilsen and Matt Ludwig, 19-footers and winners of the last two outdoor collegiate titles, plus 19-3 vaulter Andrew Irwin heading a deep field.

Husky Classic Now A 1-Day Wonder

Bad weather and a Friday afternoon shutdown of the Washington campus forced Husky organizers to compress their schedule and make it a 1-day Friday event. Look for a solid 3000 featuring NCAA champions Allie Ostrander (Boise State), Jessica Hull (Oregon), Edna Kurgat (New Mexico) along with the host’s Katie Rainsberger. The other distances should feature the usual parade of fast times, including a solid men’s mile that should put multiples under 4:00.

Tiger Paw Invitational

The fast Clemson track will host some of the top college programs, including current top 10 men’s teams Florida State (No. 2), Houston (4) and Texas A&M (7). On the women’s side is Texas A&M (3), Florida State (5) and Kentucky 10). Jazmine Fray of A&M, who set the collegiate 800 record here two years ago, will be back. South Carolina’s Quincy Hall will highlight the 400 and A&M’s Devin Dixon will be looking to better his recent American collegiate record 1:45.27 in the 800.

Iowa State Classic Goes Long

Some of the distance races in Ames should be loaded as college coaches have their charges going after NCAA qualifying marks. The 5000 should be especially good, featuring Minnesota’s Obsa Ali, Iowa State’s Edwin Kurgat, Alabama’s Vincent Kiprop & Guilbert Kigen, and BYU’s Clayton Young & Connor McMillan.