The Prefontaine Classic is so jam-packed this weekend that I’ve decided to separate my preview for all of this weekend’s action into multiple posts. This preview will cover Friday night’s U.S. Championship men’s 10,000m race. The top three men and women will secure their spots for the World Championships, so long as they have the World Championship qualifying standard (27:28.00 for men and 31:25.00 for women) by the time the rest of Team USA is determined at the U.S. Championships (June 23-26).
HOW TO WATCH: You can watch Friday night’s action from the Prefontaine Classic starting at 10:30 p.m. ET on USATF.TV+ with a subscription. You can find a complete schedule of events, entries and results here.
I will also be on-site providing you with live updates on Twitter. I’ll also join my colleagues Dana Giordano and Mac Fleet to bring you a special edition of After The Final Lap live from Eugene. Subscribe to the CITIUS MAG YouTube channel and set your reminder.
WHAT TO WATCH ON FRIDAY – MAY 27
USATF Championship 10,000m Men’s Race | 11:15 p.m. ET
This race was the first thriller of last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials and saw Woody Kincaid capture his first U.S. title with a 53.47-second last lap to win in 27:53.62 ahead of his teammate Grant Fisher (27:54.29) and On Athletic Club’s Joe Klecker (27:54.90). All three are back to try and make another team.
One of the biggest differences this time is that Fisher will be introduced on the starting line as the American record holder after running 26:33.84 (#7 all-time in the world) at Sound Running’s The Ten on March 6. His only other race of 2022 was his indoor 5000m American record of 12:53.73 at Boston University on Feb. 12. Assuming his coursework for his Stanford master’s degree in management science and engineering hasn’t left him too stressed out in the past few weeks, Fisher enters this one as the heavy favorite. He has demonstrated recent fitness, the ability to kick off a fast or slow pace, and in his 5000m in February showed he isn’t afraid to squeeze down the pace from a long way out.
Kincaid has yet to race this outdoor season aside from pacing his teammates at Sound Running’s The Track Meet. All three of his professional 10,000m races came last year with a 27:12.78 personal best in February, his 27:53.62 at the Trials and then 28:11.01 for 15th at the Tokyo Olympics. He had a low-key indoor season with a 13:05.56 indoor 5000m personal best, winning the second heat at Boston University after a small setback in training in the fall. If we see someone make a big move with three or four laps to go, it may well be for fear of Kincaid’s lethal kicking speed.
Klecker is coming around at the right time after being sidelined with an injury for part of the winter. He was hit with COVID in late March but opened up running a 3:58 mile split in the OAC 4 x Mile record attempt and then notched a 5000m personal best of 13:04.42 at Sound Running’s Track Meet, which was the top performance of the day by an American. Klecker is more of a pure strength runner than his Bowerman rivals, but if he can hang on when the pace gets hot, he’s shown he can outlast most of his competitors.
Here’s a rundown of the other intriguing entries in this one:
Guys looking to make their first World Championship track team:
– Bowerman Track Club’s Sean McGorty has the fourth-fastest seed time thanks to his 27:18.15 debut at the distance at The Ten. He was an NCAA champion in the 5000m in 2018 and stuck with the event for much of the first few years of his professional career. Last year, he attempted to make the U.S. Olympic team in the steeplechase but finished 7th in the Trials final. The separate 10,000m championship provides an intriguing opportunity for McGorty to further showcase his versatility.
– The US Army’s Emmanuel Bor made the U.S. national team for the World Indoor Championships in the 3000m but was forced to make a late scratch due to the U.S. State Department advisory discouraging travel to Serbia. He has only run two 10,000m races in his career: 27:22.80 in May 2021 and then a 10th place finish (28:05.00) at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
– Conner Mantz, the two-time NCAA cross country champion from BYU who signed with Nike earlier this year, was the next man up to replace Bor for Indoor Worlds but opted to race the NYC Half instead. Mantz has raced quite a bit this year but has been rewarded with personal bests in the indoor 3000m (7:41.43); indoor 5000m (13:10.24); outdoor 5000m (13:13.25) and 10,000m (27:25.23). He likely won’t be a factor if the race comes down to a big final lap, but if the men’s race turns into a grindfest like the women’s Trials last year, he could run the kicks out of the competition.
– Dillon Maggard is looking to make his first outdoor national team after qualifying for the World Indoor Championship and placing ninth in the 3000m Belgrade. He ran a personal best of 27:37.26 at the Payton Jordan Invitational on April 29. He did an interview with Mac Fleet for The Victory Lap in March.
Do these veterans still have it?
– Ben True, who finished fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials in a performance that actually broke him, has entered his first track race since then. Last fall, he made his marathon debut in 2:12:53 in New York City and returned to the Big Apple in March to claim a half marathon personal best of 62:10. The biggest question is whether he’s got track speed back – and whether it will be enough to earn his first global championship berth since 2015.
– You have to go down to the 11th spot on the entries to find the man who was the U.S. champion in this event just three years ago. Lopez Lomong is entered with his 27:39.96 from The Ten in March, which means if he finishes in the top three in a time not under the World Championship qualifying mark he’ll have four weeks to get it. He struggled in the Olympic Trials 10,000m and withdrew from the 5000m due to injury, ending his hopes of making a third U.S. Olympic team. At 37, he’s looking to recapture that 2019 form, where he won the U.S. Championships and then took seventh at Worlds in a personal best of 27:04.72.
– The most overlooked man in this field is likely Shadrack Kipchichir. I had the chance to speak with him back in January and it’s not too late to remind yourself of his 10,000m prowess. A torn calf forced him to miss the entire 2021 outdoor season but in my CITIUS MAG Podcast episode with him, he goes into detail about the hours of work he put in at the Olympic Training Center and at a local Lifetime Fitness (where he taught himself to swim) to return to form. He roared back with a win at the USATF Cross Country Championships in January, jumped on the track for a 13:10.79 indoor 5000m at BU in February, ran 27:24.93 at The Ten and nailed his half marathon debut in 61:16 at the NYC Half in March. Let’s not forget that Kipchirchir knows how to perform when it counts: he made every 10,000m U.S. team from 2015 to 2019.
If you want to hear more about Shadrack Kipchirchir’s rise in the sport and how he worked himself back to a U.S. title in January after an injury-plagued 2021, catch his appearance on The CITIUS MAG Podcast in January:
🙏 Thanks again for reading and sharing. Follow along on Twitter: @chrischavez and Instagram: @chris_j_chavez. Tell your friends to sign up for the newsletter to stay in the know on what and how to watch the best track and field action.