Thursday, February 23, 2012

Battle Royale: Rupp/Lagat duel leads USA Indoor Championships

Does Rupp have enough to get by the master?
(Photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
The USA Indoor Track and Field Championships kick off Saturday and the distance race of the meet will certainly be the showdown between Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp. They'll close out Saturday night at 8:05pm Mountain Time in an event in which Lagat owns the American Record (7:32.43); the 3000 meters. Both should qualify for the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey from March 9-11, as the top two in each event will qualify, if they have hit the standards.

Both are fresh off breaking each other's American Records in recent weeks; with Lagat besting Rupp's 5000 Record and Rupp trumping Lagat's 2 Mile Record just hours later. It should be a two man show, but Lopez Lomong could make things interesting, as he makes his first indoor appearance in an event over 800 meters this year (where he ran 1:47).

Right before the Men take the stage, the Women will square off in another duel of sorts for 3000 meters. The favorite has to be Jenny Simpson, but Sara Hall may give her a run for her money, as she beat her to the line in Boston (after Simpson faded from going out hard). Hall also is coming off a national Cross Country title, so her confidence will be high.

On Sunday (at 2:15), the first distance event will be the Men's 800. Last year's winner, Duane Solomon, leads the field in his indoor season debut. The New York New Jersey Track Club has the next three qualifiers in Michael Rutt, Tevan Everett and Christian Gonzalez, while the unattached (sponsors take heed) Mark Wieczorek rounds out the top five. It'd be nice to see Wieczorek take the win and secure some sponsorship before his outdoor bid to make the Olympic Team. He'll have his hands full in doing so!

Sara Hall will know how to lean
this weekend if needed
30 minutes later, the Men's 1500 will go off. Leading the field is Daegu Bronze Medalist, Matt Centrowitz. Centro looked awesome in the Wannamaker Mile at the Millrose Games, but will have to execute brilliantly again to hold off Leo Manzano, Garrett Heath, Russell Brown, Jeff See (who won last year) and Galen Rupp, who will look to double up after the 3000 Saturday night.

The Women's 1500 field will hit the track next in a Jenny Simpson/Sara Hall rematch. Also, the sharp Brenda Martinez will look to continue her excellent season by facing these two mainstays. The Women's 800 will follow with Phoebe Wright looking to repeat. Erica Moore and Latavia Thomas look to be her top competition as Maggie Vessey has opted out of the event.

The event will be broadcast (via tape delay) Sunday on ESPN at 7:30pm Eastern. Also, everything that isn't on TV will be streamed live via RunnerSpace.com. Flash Results will have live results starting Saturday and here's a link to the newly re-designed USA Indoor Championships homepage. Oh, and make sure you wear the right uniform.

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