Hagos Gebrhiwet sets meet record in men’s 3K; Mary Cain shatters HS 2-mile record.
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BOSTON — An explosive surge two-thirds of the way through the men’s 3000m here Saturday night at the 18th New Balance Indoor Grand Prix propelled Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet to a new world junior and meet record of 7:32.87, also a world-leader. Yet the 18 year-old’s mark was eclipsed in importance for the partisan crowd by American high schooler Mary Cain, 16, who smashed the U.S. high school and junior records for two miles and 3000m by wide margins.
Cain, who broke the U.S. high school mile and 1,500m indoor records at last Saturday’s New Balance Games in New York City, ran in a pack of professional woman who trailed Ethiopian superstar Tirunesh Dibaba by more than half a lap. Dibaba won easily in a world-leading 9:13.17, but it was Cain who got the biggest cheers when she sprinted to a third-place finish in 9:38.68. That mark smashed Melody Fairchild’s national high school record of 9:55.92 which had stood for nearly 22 years. En route, Cain split the 3,000m mark in 9:04.51, breaking both Fairchild’s high school mark of 9:17.4, but also Aisling Cuffe’s junior record of 9:15.56 set last year.
“I definitely felt very strong,” said Cain. “I was trying to stay in the race as much as I could, and stay really relaxed.” She said that she was inspired by being in the same race as Dibaba. “It was really an honor to run against her. It was amazing to be in the same race.”
Gebrhiwet’s mark came at the end of the meet in a thrilling head-to-head race. The Ethiopian teenager matched strides with America’s Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Galen Rupp through 2,000 meters before boldly launching into the lead. Gebrhiwet, who finished 11th at last summer’s Olympic 5,000m, broke away from Rupp over the last kilometer with a powerful surge, hitting the finish tape in 7:32.87. His mark just eclipsed the previous world junior record of 7:32.89 run by Kenya’s Isiah Koech in Liévin last year.
Close behind him, the crowd roared as Rupp clocked a personal best 7:33.67, a mark which was just 1.24 seconds off of Bernard Lagat’s American record. His coach was less concerned about the record, but rather that Rupp had competed well.
“We don’t worry about times,” said Alberto Salazar, who coaches Rupp and double Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah. “Galen would have liked to break that American record today, but he’s just going to go in and compete. If the race is right he might break it.”
Reigning World Championships bronze medalist Matthew Centrowitz won a tactical mile in 3:56.26, holding off a final charge to the tape by Will Leer (3:56.35). Centrowitz was happy to win, but he had anticipated a faster race, something he was ready for.
“I didn’t expect it to be tactical, nor did I want it to be tactical,” Centrowitz lamented. “I’ve told you guys for a couple of weeks now I’m fit, I was ready to run fast. I guess with the way the field went the conditions today it just ended up being tactical.”
The women’s mile went very slowly, allowing Morocco’s Btissam Lakhouad to take the win using her superior sprint speed. She was timed in 4:39.23, and didn’t mind the slow race.
“It was a good race,” she said in French. “It was my first race of the year and it was good.”
Phoebe Wright nipped her training partner Erica Moore in the homestretch of the 800m, coming from third place to win in 2:03.96 to 2:03.98. Moore, last year’s World Indoor Championships 800m bronze medalist, was also beaten at this meet last year in a sprint finish against Maggie Vessey and Ethiopia’s Fantu Magiso. She said she didn’t blame Wright for her tactics.
“I would have done the same thing,” she said wryly.