Distance Runners Face Top-Level Competition

This weekend's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University will have several national level events to test Oregon and Oregon State athletes, OTC Elite athletes, and local athletes. Three of the Oregon athletes that need the biggest tests are Andrew Wheating, Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott and Alexandra Kosinski.

Andrew Wheating has not lost an 800 or 1,500 meter race all year. Including indoor races and outside of the Distance Medley Relay (he has had the fastest 800 split in every race) and a 4x400 meter relay split he has run four races all year. He will face experienced and successful competition that could run faster than the outdoor leading time of Ryan Brown at 1:47.18 (indoor leader was Nick Symmonds at 1:46.48). Kevin Hicks ran 1:44.94 in 2005, won the NCAA championship and was third at the US championships. Last year he was a US semifinalist (season best 1:47.28). Last year Floyd Thompson finished sixth at the US championships and ran his season best 1:46.11. Hicks and Thompson were joined by semifinalist Brandon Shaw and Tetlo Emmen and Christian Smith who all competed at last year's national championships. The first four ran 1:47.28 or better last year. Michael Garcia of Stanford and Elias Koech of UTEP were NCAA competitors last year. This will be Wheating's first true chance to gage his progress against top-level competition this year.

AJ Acosta was third at the NCAA indoor mile behind Texas' Lyle Manzano and his teammate Jake Morse. He is in the second heat (A heat at 7:50 pm) and will compete against 2006 US indoor champ and Washingtonian Chris Lukezic. Matt Tegenkamp was fourth at the World Championship 5k and was the third fastest American last year at the 1500 meters, 3:34.25. NCAA bronze medallist Russell Brown of Stanford and teammate Garrett Heath, fourth at the 2008 NCAA indoor mile, will also be part of this fast heat. 2007 indoor mile bronze medallist Stephen Pifer of Colorado, Wisconsin's freshman sensation Evan Jager, and OTC Elite's Sean O'Brien, fifth in the US indoor mile in 2007 will also be in the field. In the fastest heat Nick Symmonds of Oregon Track Club Elite will face last year's NCAA champion Lopez Lomong, five time NCAA champion (3k and 5k) Chris Solinsky, and 2002 NCAA champion Don Sage, This year the fastest US time outdoors in the 1,500 is by Lopez Lomong at 3:39.50 (Bernard Lagat ran 3:35.23 indoors).

Teammates Joaquin Chapa and Scott Wall will run in the lower seeded third heat of the 1500. Oregonians Lauren Jespersen of Stanford and Ryan Vail of Oklahoma State are entered in this race. Isaac Stoutenburgh and Chris Winter will compete in the slower second heat of the 3,000 steeplechase against ex-Duck Brett Holts and many collegiate and post-collegiate runners of similar ability. In the first heat recovering Thomas Brooks of OTC elite (third in 2007 US championships) will contend against ex-Duck and current Sun Devil Kyle Alcorn, US seventh place finisher Ben Bruce, eighth place finisher Max King of Oregon Track Club Elite, and ex-Cal Bear Kevin Davis (ninth at US). Anthony Famiglietti ran a very good early season time of 8:26.94 to lead the US list this year in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Oregon's Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott will make his track debut in the slower second heat of the men's 5,000 meters. Teammate Kenny Klotz will join him and try to beat his vanquisher at the US junior championships, freshman Elliot Heath of Stanford. They will also face Pepsi contestants from Minnesota, Hassan Mead and Chris Rombough. The top heat will have many top competitors highlighted by the appearances of US 10k champ Abdi Abdirahman and World 1500 and 5k champ Bernard Lagat. The US leading time by Sean Quigley at 13:30.25 will very likely be improved upon.

The women's 1500 meters will be the toughest outdoor competition Alexandra Kosinski has had this year in that event. Ex-Duck Amber McGown of Team XO, Oklahoma's Jessica Eldridge, ex-leading 2006 collegian Jemissa Hess, and this year's sixth ranked collegian Nichole Jones of Baylor (all with prs under 4:20) will provide tough competition in the second fastest 1500 heat. In the top heat three US finalists from last year led by the fifth place finish of Sara Hall will face Canadian 800 champion Diane Cummins, 2006 US 5k champion Lauren Fleshman, US junior champion (and meet record holder) Jordan Hasay and top visiting Japaneese athletes.

In the 800 Oregon's Zoe Buckman will face four US championship finalists including the champion, Alysia Johnson of Cal. Morgan Uceny, formerly of Cornell, finished fourth at the US championships last year, Geena Gall of Michigan was sixth and Nikeya Green finished eighth. Canadian Rebecca Johnston runs for Nike now and was a multiple NAIA champion for Simon Fraser.

Three Duck seniors will be chasing regional qualifying marks. In the men's 400 Marcus Dillon will face the only NCAA regional qualifier in the race, Andrew Dargie of Stanford at 46.56, and others from Stanford also chasing the regional qualifying mark. Mike McGrath will face comparable competition in the 800 from Cal and Stanford runners also looking for regional qualifying marks. In the 1500 meters AJ Casteel is also looking for his first regional qualifying mark as a Duck with at least half of the competition with prs superior to the qualifying mark of 3:47.80.

As usual the men's Kim McDonald 10,000 meter run will have some of the top US runners and select international competitors. This competition will feature high quality international visitors Australian Craig Mottram (third in the 2005 world 5k) and world 5k competitor, Olympic finalist Ireland's Alistair Cragg (pr 27:39.55 from this race last year) and Englishman Mo Farah (sixth at last year's World Championship 5k and eleventh at this falls World cross country long course). This race is always very fast. Last year ten of the top 13 US times were run at this meet. Also running are University of Portland teammates Michael Kilburg and John Moore, fourth and sixth in the collegiate rankings respectively, and are automatic qualifiers for the NCAA championships. Ex-Duck Jason Hartmann will look to test his fitness and improve his pr. The most dangerous up-and-coming runner is Scott Bauhs of Chico State. If he stays close to the leaders he is likely to out-kick them. Due to performances last fall and winter he is likely to break 28 minutes and make clear that he is a challenger for an Olympic spot on the US squad. The US leading time of Sean Quigley at 28:03.72 will likely not last the night. In the second race Duck Diego Mercado will try to improve his 22nd place ranking in the 10k so that he will have a better shot of qualifying for the NCAA championships.

In the women's race it has already been stated that US 5k record-holder Shalane Flanagan will take a shot at breaking Deena Drossin's American record of 30:50.32 run at this meet in 2002. Kim Smith of New Zealand and multiple time US team member Jennifer Rhines (pr 31:17.31) will keep her company. Collegiate record holder and five time NCAA champion Sally Kipyego (31:56.72) and former collegiate record holder Alicia Shay (32:19.97) will test themselves against this top competition.

Coverage from flocast can be viewed at: http://www.flocasts.org/flotrack/coverage.php?c=256

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