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 women’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 Women’s Race | 10:30 p.m. ET
I can still feel the heat from that 86-degree Saturday morning in Eugene. It’s been 11 months since Emily Sisson won the U.S. Olympic Trials women’s 10,000m in meet-record fashion (31:03.82) and secured her first Olympic team berth. It was an incredible performance where took the lead just after the second kilometer and squeezed the pace lap by lap. She split 15:49.15 for the first half of the race and then 15:14 for the final half to win by about 13 seconds. Karissa Schweizer, who was coming back from the 5000m, took second and Alicia Monson held onto the third spot to Tokyo before being taken to the hospital due to heat exhaustion.
The forecast for Friday evening looks to be far more favorable to distance racing, with temperatures in the mid-50s to low-60s. The wind, humidity, and chance of precipitation all look likely they could impact times (it is spring in the Pacific Northwest, after all), but if the weather breaks the right way at the right time, it could make for a quick evening.
A new champion will be crowned this year as Sisson has opted to focus on the roads in 2022 and has not raced on the track since her 10th place finish (31:09.58) at the Tokyo Olympics.
Elise Cranny, who finished in the dreaded fourth place spot at last year’s trials, is a strong candidate to try and win her third career U.S. title. The Bowerman Track Club star ran 30:14.66 in her outdoor season opener at Sound Running’s The Ten – less than a month after breaking the U.S. indoor 5000m record. That performance landed her in second place on the U.S. all-time list behind Molly Huddle’s 30:13.17 from 2016. The most impressive part of that race was the 7,000 meters of work that Cranny had to do solo after the pacer stepped off at 3K. After that, it was just her, lapped runners and the Wavelight technology on the rail. Cranny has spent much of this block training at altitude in Park City, Utah, with her teammates but popped by the USATF Golden Games at Mt. SAC to churn out a 4:08.07 1500m in early April so she’s been honing in on her speed in the lead-up to the 10,000m Champs. Better conditions and a healthy Cranny give her the “favorite” label heading into this race.
If you want to hear from Cranny after that 10,000m race in March, check out her appearance on The CITIUS MAG Podcast from March 2022:
Schweizer, who finished 12th at the Tokyo Olympics in 31:19.96, would also make a formidable title contender, however, she underwent surgery on her Achilles last fall. She skipped the indoor season while rehabbing but did make her return with a 15:02.77 victory at the Mt. SAC Relays last month. She is still looking for her first national title after a pair of runner-up finishes last year. A Bowerman 1-2 like we saw in the 5000m last year wouldn’t be surprising if both are healthy.
The On Athletics Club’s Alicia Monson and 2015 world championship bronze medalist Emily Infeld have made the team before and look to be in the shape to do it again. After a strong winter and spring, Dark Sky Distance’s Weini Kelati and Hansons-Brooks Distance Project’s Natosha Rogers may be dark horse contenders for a spot at Worlds as well.
– Monson, who was 13th at the Tokyo Olympics, has not raced a 10,000m race all season. She had a very strong start to 2022 by winning the USATF cross country championships (the first national title of her career), winning the 3000m at the Millrose Games in 8:31.62 (4th fastest American ever), finishing second at the USATF Indoor Championships in the 3000m and then finishing 7th at the World Indoor Championships in the event. The only outdoor race on her resume this season is a 4:07.36 for 1500m at Sound Running’s The Track Meet. Just two years into her pro career, Monson has proven to show up on the biggest stages. A few of the pundits in the CITIUS Mag Slack channel argued that she should be considered more of a favorite than Schweitzer, which I can also see.
If you want to hear about Monson’s breakout 2021 season and how she kept the momentum rolling into 2022, check out her appearance on The CITIUS MAG Podcast from Jan. 2022.
– Kelati (31:10.08 PB from Dec. 2020) making the United States team for the World Championships would be an awesome story. Just eight years ago, she represented Eritrea in the 3000m at the World Junior Championships at Hayward Field and finished eighth in the final. She skipped her team’s flight back home and sought asylum in the United States. Last summer, she finally got her United States citizenship just days before competing in the 10,000m final. Due to the hot conditions, she dropped out of the race and her hopes of representing the United States on the global stage had to wait another season. She’s still looking to get her first U.S. vest and this could be her chance. She enters with the fourth-fastest seed thanks to her 31:11.11 from Sound Running’s The Track Meet earlier this month, and she has not finished below third in any of her races in 2022.
If you want to hear what representing the United States would mean to Kelati, check out her appearance on The CITIUS MAG Podcast from Jan. 2021.
– Infeld is an intriguing athlete to watch for this race since she’s shown flashes of success since leaving the Bowerman Track Club and teaming up with coach Jon Green and the Verde Track Club in Flagstaff alongside Olympic bronze medalist Molly Seidel. Infeld was third at the USATF Cross Country Championships in January, third at USATF 15K Championships in March and just three seconds back (15:05.80) of Schweizer in the 5000m at Mt. SAC. This will be her first 10,000m since finishing eighth at the U.S. Olympic Trials. From 2015 to 2017, she was a regular on the podium at the U.S. Championships in the 10,000m, and the Georgetown alumna is still only 32 years old.
– Rogers isn’t getting as much attention coming into this race despite some good results. Cranny drew the headlines in Sound Running’s The Ten for the near-record but Rogers was the next American across the finish line in fourth place with a 31:16.89. It’s the second-best time of her career behind her 31:12.28 personal best from Dec. 2020. She also got her first outdoor track victory since June 2016 when she won the 5000m at Sound Running’s The Track Meet in 15:05.22. At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, she came close to making a U.S. team with her second-place finish in the 10,000m, but although she landed on the podium, she missed the standard by 14 seconds. In the years following that disappointment, she took a break from the sport. Her reappearance in the top ranks of pro running suggests she’s put that disappointment behind her and found a second act with Hansons-Brooks. But nothing would bury the ghosts of the past quite like finishing the job she started a decade ago by making a global championship.
If you want to hear about Rogers’ remarkable comeback, check out her appearance on The CITIUS MAG Podcast from Feb. 2020:
Ednah Kurgat, Sarah Lancaster, Marielle Hall, Paige Stoner, Danielle Shanahan, Stephanie Bruce and Emily Lipari all also hold the World Championship qualifying standard. Were another athlete to land on the podium without hitting the standard in the race, she would have a few more weeks to run 31:25.00 or faster as the qualifying window remains open through USAs.
🙏 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.