U.S. Stars Flock To Sound Running’s Track Fest In Hopes Of Olympic Qualifiers | Meet Preview

By Paul Hof-Mahoney

May 9, 2024

Last weekend, Jack Kemp Stadium at Los Angeles’s Occidental College served as the site of season openers for several of the world’s biggest sprinting stars. This weekend, it’s all about the distance runners at Oxy as the Sound Running Track Fest comes to town. The second event of 2024 on the Sound Running circuit, these are just some of the athletes and races to watch Saturday night:

- The men’s 3000m steeplechase field is probably pretty close to what it will look like at the Olympic trials next month. Anthony Rotich, the only American currently with the Olympic standard, will be leading the way, but he’ll have to contend with last year’s national champion Kenneth Rooks as well as Duncan Hamilton. The field also features seven-time national champion and American record holder Evan Jager. Jager missed almost all of the 2023 season with a stress fracture, but he finished sixth in Eugene in 2022, showing that even in his mid-30s he can still contend on the global stage when healthy.

- Indoor 1500m silver and bronze medallists from Glasgow Nikki Hiltz and Emily Mackay will be stepping down to the 800m this weekend. Both runners sit comfortably under the entry standard for Paris in their signature event, so this race should just be some competitive speedwork for them as they look towards placing in the top three at the Trials. On the men’s side, the fastest PB in the field belongs to Moad Zahafi of Morocco. The 2022 NCAA champion for Texas Tech currently sits about half-a-second away from the Olympic standard, but his 1:43.69 clocking from 2022 means he’s more than capable of getting underneath the 1:44.70 standard.

Sifan Hassan winning the 2023 Chicago Marathon. Sifan Hassan winning the 2023 Chicago Marathon.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

- Sifan Hassan, also known as the rangiest woman in track and field, will be making her 2024 debut on the track Saturday night in the women’s 5000m. The ninth-fastest ever in this event and the reigning World Championship silver medallist, Hassan’s last two races have been marathons. In October she ran the second-fastest time in history in Chicago, and she nabbed a fourth place finish in a very strong field in Tokyo two months ago. It’s still unclear what combination of 1500m, 5000m, 10,000m and the marathon Hassan will contest in Paris, but this weekend’s race is sure to be fast. Hassan’s chief competition looks to be Elise Cranny, the American record holder in the indoor 5000m and ninth-place finisher at each of the last two World Championships. Cranny is currently .66 seconds behind the standard for Paris, so getting underneath that 14:52 barrier would be a huge confidence boost heading to the Trials in June.

- Coming off a disappointing DNF at the Olympic marathon trials in February, Keira D’Amato dropped 45 seconds off of her 10,000m PB at Sound Running’s The TEN in March. She’ll be looking for a similar improvement this weekend, as she currently sits about 25 seconds off the Olympic standard. Elly Henes is currently the first woman out of the World Rankings qualification quota, but her PB of 30:48.26 from last year’s edition of The TEN (which is outside of the qualification window for Paris) shows that she definitely has the potential to drop something big on Saturday and move up those rankings. Emily Infeld, a Rio Olympian in the 10,000m, will also be competing this weekend, looking to bounce back from a DNF at The TEN.

The main program will kick off with the men’s steeplechase at 10:45 p.m. E.T. on Saturday, May 10. Pay-per-view streaming is available on Tracklnd.

Paul Hof-Mahoney

Paul is currently a student at the University of Florida (Go Gators) and is incredibly excited to be making his way into the track and field scene. He loves getting the opportunity to showcase the fascinating storylines that build up year-over-year across all events (but especially the throws).