Steeplechase records fall as 64 athletes meet Olympic Trials standard at HOKA ONE ONE Middle Distance Classic

Steeplechase records fall as 64 athletes meet Olympic Trials standard at HOKA ONE ONE Middle Distance Classic

Provided by USATF

LOS ANGELES -- Meet records in the 3,000-meter steeplechase fell Friday night as 64 athletes met the Olympic Trials standard in middle distance events ranging from 800 to 5,000 meters at the HOKA ONE ONE Middle Distance Classic. All races are available for free, on-demand viewing on USATF.TV.

The weather was perfect for top times across the board, along with a packed Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College, as American record holder Evan Jager highlighted the night’s top performances.

Steeplechase records shatter

Olympian Evan Jager bided his time in his section of the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, letting his Bowerman Track Club teammates push the pace until the final two laps, as Jager easily made a move to the front and put nearly 200 meters between himself and the chase pack on the final lap. Jager came home to a meet and stadium record 8:15.26, courtesy of a 2:00-flat final 800m, and led 10 other men to Olympic Trials qualifying times. Jager’s new meet record broke his teammate Daniel Huling’s previous Oxy record of 8:17.00 from 2014.

On the women's side, Jamie Cheever capped off an exciting week where she not only got engaged, but saw her set a meet record in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase in a meet-record time of 9:37.12. Cheever paced well with Oiselle teammates Olympian Shalaya Kipp and Marie Lawrence and took it out in quick enough pace for the trio, along with Marisa Howard, to qualify under both the Trials and Olympic standards. In total, 11 women qualified for the Olympic Trials in July between the two steeplechase sections.

Homecoming great for Grace

Oiselle’s Kate Grace continued her impressive start to the 2016 season, winning the women's 1500m in 4:05.65, recording both a Trials and Olympic standard. Grace, who owns her high school’s mile record at Jack Kemp Stadium, had the crowd on her feet with her PR performance, and solidified her spot as a contender to represent the red, white and blue in the women’s 1500m this summer in Rio. Grace was one of five women in her section to nab Rio qualifying standards in the 1500m and one of eight to register an Olympic Trials qualifying time (4:09.50).

Mead makes quick work of speed work

Hassan Mead turned heads while turning in a stunning finish in the 1500m Friday, winning the final section with a Trials-qualifying time of 3:37.65. Mead, who competed in the 10,000m in Beijing for Team USA, dropped down for speed work at Oxy ahead of his 5,000m at the Nike Prefontaine Classic next weekend. The third section of the men’s 1500m saw an impressive kick by Jordan McNamara give him the edge over Canada’s Charles Philibert-Thiboutot in the final 50m, with McNamara staring down his competitors and the finish line en route to the second-fastest finish of the night in 3:38.26.

Jenkins breaks through in 5k

Former University of Oregon standout Eric Jenkins came into Friday looking for a breakthrough in his first full professional season and he more than delivered, utilizing the pack mentality until the bell lap, where he threw down the hammer with a 55.38 final lap to leave the other six men in the dust. Jenkins gapped the field by nearly 20m with 200m to go and cruised to victory in 13:24.67. Multi-time USARC champion Sam Chelanga also qualified for the Olympic Trials with a time of 13:27.53.

Roesler leads another stacked 800m field

The women’s 800m has been one of the most stacked events for the U.S. in recent years, with five women going sub-2:00 in 2015. Roesler has neared the 2:00 barrier multiple times this season and utilized quick pacing by the rabbit, as well as a signature out-front performance by Molly Ludlow, to bide her time until the final 200 meters. Ludlow and Brenda Martinez began to gap Roesler but the 2014 Bowerman Trophy winner cruised after the final turn to edge Martinez at the line and take the win, 2:00.15 to 2:00.18.

Andrews utilizes signature kick for the win

Robby Andrews looked to be in fine form Friday, reaching into his usual bag of tricks to kick home over the final 150m for the win in 1:47.22. Beijing teammate Casimir Loxsom took the pace out with a bit of space between the pack and the rabbit, going through the first lap in 50.89 to lead with Andrews at the back of the eight-man pack. Harun Abda shifted into second behind Loxsom on the back straightaway and with 200m to go, Andrews was still sitting back in sixth. With the leaders hitting the final turn, Andrews turned on the afterburners and kicked home to pass Loxsom and come shoulder-to-shoulder with Abda with 20 meters to go. Andrews took the final section with Abda coming through in 1:47.42.

U.S. duo qualifies for #TrackTown16

Americans Jessica Tebo and Kellyn Taylor both nabbed the Rio and Trials standards Friday evening, doing much of the work in the 12.5-lap race. Tebo and Taylor switched position as the leader until the final three laps, with Canadian Andrea Seccafien taking the top spot for the duration. Seccafien came through in 15:17.81 to become one of two Canadians with the Rio standard. Tebo and Taylor notched their Trials spots in 15:21.88 and 15:22.10, respectively. Another notable performance was marathoner and USARC mainstay Sara Hall recording a fourth-place finish in 15:28.25 less than a month after running 2:30:06 at the London Marathon.

The next stop for the USATF Championship Series is the Nike Prefontaine Classic on Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28. Distance Night kicks off action on USATF.TV +PLUS at 11p ET Friday, while track action begins on NBCSN Saturday from 3:30-5 p.m. ET before switching over to NBC from 5-6 p.m. ET.

For full results from the HOKA ONE ONE Middle Distance Classic, click here.

Amanda Brooks