I was a little late to the meet, so finding seats was a challenge. The meet had open entry for the first night to bring in a crowd for Distance Night. Most of the races were high school kids running as the warm-up act and we arrived in time for the high school women's and men's 1600m.
The lateness was due to stopping for dinner at Beppe & Gianni's Trattoria on 19th and Agate. I highly recommend lingering. Sampling wine would also be encouraged. Leave more time than I did to get to the track.
The girl's fired off and the pack stayed pretty tight through the first three laps with Devin Clark leading them out. The race was tight with Ryen Frazier hanging close, Christina Aragon and Jordyn Colter just back a touch. The race came down to Jones and Frazier dueling the entire final lap with the race not decided until the last straightaway when Ryen finally got a step in front at the tap.
She also had the best interview line of the night. When asked, Frazier was bubbling as she said, "Danielle and I have battled like that a lot, but this place is so awesome. I kept having to tell myself to stop smiling, you're supposed to be racing." Utterly charming and refreshing.
The men's side had the field separate much faster. Mike Braningan took the early lead and pushed the first lap in a 61. Salisbury, Barnard, and Ratcliffe were all in the mix as they juggled positions.
Hidden in the pack, Carlos Villareal floated in back in about sixth or seventh place for the first half of the race. By the end of the third lap, he was up to about fifth when Brannigan and Salisbury took off. The rest of the chase pack went after them but the two leaders had smashed open a 15 meter lead.
Coming off the final turn, Brannigan opened some more, but back 35 meters, Villareal exploded. The crowd responded as he flew down the straightaway, picking of Ratcliffe, then Barnard, then Salisbury. With 40 meters to go, only Brannigan was in front. With 20 meters to go, and the crowd on it's feet, he sprinted into the lead, and the win, and a PR of 4:05.
The featured events were the 5000m and 10,000m and the races lived up to the hype, especially the 10,000m with Farah and Tanui taking turns leading laps and Kamworor hanging on to third. The race came down to the last lap. Nobody outkicks Farah on the last lap. The times were the fastest of the season in the world, a good omen for the upcoming outdoor meets.
Bernard Lagat, ageless and graceful, ran his way into fourth position. Love to watch that man run.
Loved watching the high school kids taking a victory lap together. I don't think our runners have every had that honor. They grinned all the way around, high fiving along the way.