Pre Classic (Eugene Diamond League) 2024

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Josh Kerr Set To Duel In Bowerman Mile At Pre Classic

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Josh Kerr Set To Duel In Bowerman Mile At Pre Classic

The latest Diamond League meet offers a little bit of everything. Many of the event's top performers are competing in Eugene on Saturday At Pre.

May 23, 2024 by Tim O'Hearn

The fifth stop on the 2024 Wanda Diamond League tour is the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. 

Tabbed for Saturday at Hayward Field, this year’s contest comes at an exciting time. The competition will take place less than a month before the U.S. Olympic Trials takes place and at a point in the season where athletes are chasing standards and world ranking in order to qualify for the Paris Olympics. 

On the women’s side, the meet will feature the discus, pole vault, triple jump, 5,000m, 1,500m, 3,000m steeplechase, and 800m. On the men’s side, there’s the 400mH, 100m, 110mH, shot put, 200m and mile. 

Adding to the suspense? We may have the best assembled men’s field in the history of the Bowerman Mile.

How Will The Men's 110mH Shake Out In Eugene? 

While the Prefontaine Classic ostensibly is a showcase for Nike’s top athletes, adidas might have the last laugh in the men’s 110m hurdles.

Grant Holloway, 26, and Trey Cunningham, 25, are the top two men to watch here. The American hurdlers are entering their first Diamond League race of the season to guarantee that the top five finishers from last year’s World Championships will be in the 110mH race in Eugene. 

Holloway, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, earned a world lead just over the weekend with his 13.07 at the Atlanta City Games, while this will be Cunningham’s outdoor opener. 

The race will feature Holloway, defending Olympic champion Hansle Parchment, Cunningham, Daniel Roberts, Freddie Crittendon, Shunsuke Izumiya, and Cordell Tinch, who just missed out on a spot in the final last summer.

Roberts opened his season with a wind-legal 13.11 at the Diamond League Suzhou meeting on April 20.

It's Next Up Time In The 3,000m Steeple; Who Will Make A Statement? 

Track is a brutal sport. 

There’s no better evidence of that fact than the current state of the steeple. America’s top two women, Emma Coburn, 33, and Courtney Freirichs, 31, have suffered season-ending injuries. 

Freirichs, a silver medalist in the steeple at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, revealed an ACL injury just days ago. Coburn, meanwhile, broke her ankle while competing in the steeplechase in the Diamond League Shanghai meet last month. 

But those injuries have opened the door for others. Madison Boreman made her case last week at the LA Grand Prix when she ran 9:21.98 to beat 2022 World Champion Norah Jaruto. 

The four remaining American women will toe off against some of the best in the world, including world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech. Eyes will be on NAZ Elite’s Krissy Gear, who is coming off an impressive 4:03.65 1,500m performance.

Despite Mu Being Out In The 800m, We Will Still Get An Incredible Race Here

The women’s 800m lineup is too good to be true. Six of the eight finalists from last year’s 800m in Budapest are slated to run. 

That championship final was one of the all-time great races in the modern era of the event. 

Unfortunately, Jamaican Adelle Tracey will not be present in Eugene to make it an exact rematch. Her compatriot Natoya Goule-Toppin will be running, though, and she will be joined by Ethiopia’s Tsige Duguma and Australia’s Catriona Bisset.

Although these women are the best in the world, some of them will surely be left out of the final at the Paris Olympics later this summer. 

Qualifying through the rounds is difficult even for the favorites, evidenced by Athing Mu tripping and nearly falling during a qualifying round in Budapest. This makes the premise of a straight final in Eugene enticing. 

Mu was the wildcard in this contest. After scratching from the LA Grand Prix, she was expected to make her season debut here. But on Wednesdsay, she scratched again. Only this time we found out why — she’s nursing a sore left hamstring. 

Last season, Mu only ran two 800m races outside of the World Championships. 

The last time a women’s 800m was run at Pre was in 2022. Keeley Hodgkinson won in 1:57.72. 

In a perfect world, it might take a 1:56 effort to win against this field.

Simply Put, The Bowerman Men's Mile Will Be One For The Books

The Bowerman Mile should be a race for the ages. 

The distance is seldom contested outdoors and each time an elite mile field is assembled, national records and personal bests abound. 

Most of the storylines here revolve around Jakob Ingebrigtsen.

Ingebrigtsen has had but a few blemishes as a senior athlete. His two most notable defeats came at the hands of athletes from the United Kingdom. 

Jake Wightman outkicked Ingebrigtsen in the 1,500m at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene. Then Josh Kerr pulled off a similar caper in the 2023 world final in Budapest. 

The presence of these three men makes the Bowerman Mile the must-watch race of the meet.

The field will also include the 2024 World Indoor 1,500m champion Geordie Beamish, plus 2016 Olympic gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz, Reynold Cheruiyout, Mario Garcia Romo, Lamecha Girma, Neil Gourley, Olli Hoare and Cole Hocker. 

Oh, there’s more! 

We can’t forget about 2024 World Road Mile champion Hobbs Kessler, Abel Kipsang, 17-year-old Cam Myers and American record holder in the mile Yared Nuguse. 

Unlike the 1,500m at a global championship, the Bowerman Mile will be a straight final featuring pacers. The requested pace and competitors’ commitment to sticking to it will determine how the race will be settled. 

Matthew Centrowitz’s performance in 2016 bookended the era of “tactical” 1,500m racing – a slow race with a fast (in his case, a sub-51-second) last lap. 

Centrowitz, who was beaten by a 17-year-old Ingebrigtsen the first time they raced in 2018, now finds himself in an era of 1,500m running where that is no longer the preferred strategy. 

The mile time needed to hit the Olympic qualifying standard for the 1,500m is 3:50.40. Centrowitz is one of the few competitors who has not yet achieved any qualifying standard, so he’ll line up knowing there’s only so much his kick can accomplish.

Even if it does come down to a kick, it might turn into the fastest race of all-time. While the 1,500m world record of 3:26.00 is otherworldly, the so-called “softer” mile record of 3:43.138 is within reach. 

Last year, Ingebrigtsen dipped under 3:44, followed closely by the American Yared Nuguese. The next fastest time in the field is Olli Hoare’s 3:47.48, but he’s still working himself back into full form following a major injury in November. 

The entire field may go under 3:48, but the grudge match that is inevitably going to play out in front will have serious implications for the 1,500m at the Olympics. With a win and another sub-3:44, Ingebrigtsen should further the case that his major losses were, indeed, flukes. 

Anyone else earning the win, however, will head into the Olympics with massive expectations for a medal. It’s a true privilege as a track fan to see this type of field assembled.

Even with many of the fields yet to be announced, the Prefontaine Classic promises to be the highlight of the circuit this year, with at least three races matching the quality of Olympic finals. 

The TV window in Eugene begins at 1:00 PM PST.

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