By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
EUGENE, Ore. - Coming off his 2,000-meter world record just days earlier, Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen was coy about the upcoming pace for the Bowerman Mile on day one of the Prefontaine Classic and Diamond League finals at Hayward Field. At Friday's pre-meet press conference, however, he did tell American Yared Nuguse, "If you stick with me, I can get you under 3:46."
And that's how day one of the Classic finished Saturday afternoon. Ingebrigtsen ran the third-fastest mile of all time for the Diamond League championship in 3:43.73. Nuguse followed in 3:43.97, breaking Alan Webb's 16-year-old American record by nearly three seconds. Only Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj (3:43.13) and Kenya's Noah Ngeny (3:43.40) have run faster miles, both 24 years ago on the same July day in Rome.
"It had nothing to do with the world record," Ingebrigtsen said of the prescribed pace. "I set the lights for my own liking and it just happened to be a 10th of a second faster than the world record."
Nuguse entered the race with a best of 3:47 on an indoor track. He, too, hinted at a push for the American record during Friday's press conference but was shocked to break it by nearly three seconds.
"That's something I really appreciate about Jakob is he elevates all of us and pushes all of us to achieve things we didn't think we could achieve," said Nuguse. "I came in thinking 3:45 would be a really good race for me and I decided to go out and get that. Then I ran a 3:43, a second from the world record, like how in the heck did I do that? You have someone that keeps pushing you on and makes you keep on fighting for it even when you're really tired."
Both runners mentioned the usual winds on the back stretch at Hayward Field. The 80-degree temperature seemed to favor the runners, but the brilliant sunshine made the Wavelight pacing technology on the track difficult to see for runners.
"It was a little stressful to not have 100-percent control," Ingebrigtsen said. "If you have the lights, it's important that it's there. If not, it can only stress you with trying to watch something that's not as visible as it usually is."
The pace pushed personal bests from virtually the entire field. Great Britain's George Mills finished third in 3:47.65, followed by Spain's Mario Garcia in fourth just 0.04s later.
The American shot put record also fell late on day one. Two-time world champion Chase Ealey missed the seven-year old record of 20.63m by just two meters on her second throw Saturday afternoon. Her third toss reached 20.76m (68 feet, 1.3 inches) to break the former U.S. record set by Michelle Denee Carter at the 2016 Olympic Games. Canada's Sarah Mitton finished second on a throw of 19.94m.
"I've just been training really well and it was coming," Ealey said. "I told my coach it's happening and we were ready. I think, the end of the season, it all just came. The technique was right, the mood was right, the crowd was right. It was perfect: Hayward Magic."
One of the other ongoing stories through the 2023 track season involved the women's pole vault competition. Australia's Nina Kennedy reset several national records to keep up with 2022 world champion Katie Moon at the 2023 Worlds in Budapest. The pair ending up sharing the gold, and Kennedy set another national record to beat Moon after Budapest. Saturday morning it was no contest. Moon captured the Diamond League championship by clearing 4.86m (15 feet, 11 inches). Slovakia's Tina Sutej cleared 4.81m for second, and Kennedy slipped to fifth with a best height of 4.56m.
"It was a touch windy, but I only say that in that Budapest literally had no wind," Moon said. "Coming from Budapest, and Zurich's indoor train station to this, this was a little bit more. Honestly, this is my place to jump. It's my favorite runway. Conditions are almost always great. It got a touch swirly but the runway is so good it almost doesn't matter."
Day one of the Prefontaine Classic saw many of the best times and marks of the 2023 season. South Korea's Sanghyeok Woo set a national record to win the high jump by 0.02m at 2.35m (7 feet, 8.5 inches). That height is the best on American soil this year.
Javelin world champion Haruka Kitaguchi of Japan entered with the world lead. Her winning throw of 63.78m (209 feet, three inches) beat the Diamond League competition by more than two meters and is the best throw on American soil in 2023.
Norway's Karsten Warholm owns the 400m hurdle world record, but he and Brazil's Alison dos Santos have gone back and forth in recent years. America's Rai Benjamin hung with Warholm in that record-breaking run at the Tokyo Olympics. Saturday, Benjamin took the world lead for the year, also setting a meet record with the win in 46.39s. Warholm ran second in 46.53, and dos Santos dropped to fourth in 47.44s.
A loaded 3000m women's steeplechase resulted in the world lead by some four seconds. Bahrain's Winfred Mutile Yavi won the world title in Budapest in 8:54.29. She ran a blistering 8:50.66 at Hayward to earn the Diamond League title. Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech ran second in 8:51.67 to secure second place by eight seconds. The men's race did not break any records, but Kenya's Simon Kiprop Koech won by four-plus seconds in 8:06.26, the fastest time in America this year.
As Ealey was breaking her shot put record and the milers were taking the track, Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas added to her season best in the triple jump. Already the world record holder, she came up shy of that mark but won by 0.32 meters on a leap of 15.35m.
The sprints may have been more notable by who did not win. Three men entered Saturday's finals with a world-best 9.83s on the season. American Christian Coleman matched that time to upset world champion Noah Lyles by 0.02s. Jamaica's Shericka Jackson was clipped late by American Sha'Carri Richardson, who won the world title in Budapest. Saturday it was Jackson with the win in 10.70s, followed by Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou in 10.75s. Richardson fell to fourth in 10.80s.