Ajee Wilson Back In Front, Cheserek At Altitude, & Other Pro Standouts

Sounds crazy, but it's true: we've already reached the unofficial midway point of the professional indoor track season. 

With just over 30 days until the 2018 World Indoor Championships kick off in Birmingham, England, there are some indicators of who will factor into the medal hunt at the beginning of March. Since there's only a month of results to draw from, it’s difficult to come to any solid conclusions; however, each week the picture gets a little clearer. 

As always, Jojo has your college recap. Here are a few of the professional storylines from last week:

Mid-Distance Madness

The women’s 800m has no shortage of subplots, particularly in the United States. Outdoors, there’s a logjam of women within two seconds in either direction of 1:57. This has made the U.S. championships and Olympic Trials fascinating in recent years, as there are more than five women fighting for the three spots on the national team. Indoors, it’s even tighter. The fields may not be as strong outdoors, but there are only two spaces on the U.S. team that make the world indoor championships. 

Ajee Wilson’s American outdoor record last season gained her some separation from the rest of the Americans. At the outset of 2018, she looks to be holding on to that position. On Saturday, Wilson won the Dr. Sander Invitational at the Armory in 2:00.90, beating Natoya Goule of Jamaica. 

Entering the weekend, Goule was the only woman to break two minutes this season (Laura Muir ran 1:59.69 on Sunday to edge Goule for the yearly lead). Wilson has two qualities that make her tough to beat indoors: she doesn’t take a long time to get into race shape (especially useful in a season that lasts eight weeks), and she's comfortable running from the front. 

Outdoors, the 800m is rarely tactical. Indoors, it’s a rarity to see a race go out slow. The tight spacing and the sharp turns reward someone like Wilson who can get ahead early and hold her position. 

The men’s 800m at the Armory provided more of a surprise. Erik Sowinski won the race in 1:46.98, while Robby Andrews finished fifth and Clayton Murphy took seventh. 



We shouldn’t be too confused by Sowinski winning the race in 1:46.98 — he’s an indoor ace and has thrived during the winter months throughout his career. Andrews and Murphy running 1:50 was a bit tougher to predict. But the benefit of the truncated indoor season is that both men won’t have to wait long to bounce back. Andrews is entered in the Wanamaker Mile at this Saturday’s Millrose Games.

Murphy’s Nike Oregon Project teammate Craig Engels fared well in the mile at the Armory. Engels ran 3:57.35 in his second pro race to finish ahead of Julian Oakley, who posted a 3:57.45. 

The women’s mile grabbed headlines with Missouri star Karissa Schweizer’s excellent performance to take third, but the pros ran pretty fast as well. Kate Van Buskirk ran 4:26.92 to win the race and Rachel Schneider took second in 4:27.30. 

Doubles & Altitude

Every race in 2018 has looked like a manageable workout for Yomif Kejelcha. In Seattle at the UW Invitational, Kejelcha teamed up with Galen Rupp to run 13:34 on Friday night. The two traded off the lead and ran comfortably across the line together. The next day, Kejelcha came back to win the mile in 3:56.95. The mark was quite a bit quicker than his 4:02.70 debut in Seattle two weeks ago, but it looked just as easy. 

Shadrack Kipchirchir ran personal bests in back-to-back days at the Terrier Classic in Boston. On Friday evening he ran 7:42, smashing his personal best and taking the world lead. The plan entering the race was for the pacer to set Kipchirchir up for a time under 7:40. The early pace was quick, but Kipchirchir had to run the last seven laps all by himself once the pacer stepped off. A world lead and a enormous personal best are good consolation prizes.

Watch the Terrier Classic Men's Mile featuring Shadrack Kipchirchir:


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The next day, Kipchirchir took the mile in 3:55. Again it's a personal best, and again it's evidence that Kipchirchir is developing the speed necessary to make him even more dangerous when he runs the 5000m and 10,000m outdoors. The mile race in Boston was deep with seven men breaking four minutes. The seventh, Emmanuel Bor, became the 500th American to break four minutes in the mile. 

However, the best mile performance of the weekend came from Edward Cheserek. Cheserek ran 3:54.73 in Albuquerque to easily win the New Mexico Team Invitational. Using NCAA conversion charts for altitude, the time converts to a 3:49. 3:50 has only been broken three times indoors. 

Marathoners On The Track 

Speaking of conversions: what is Shalane Flanagan’s 8:43 worth in the midst of a 110-mile week? Sure, Sifan Hassan put serious distance on her in the last lap at the Dempsey, but Hassan is one of the best in the world at that distance. Flanagan hung tough and ran 12 seconds faster than she did two weeks ago in Seattle. Hassan’s 8:34 was a facility record and puts her right on track to compete for gold in either the 1500m or 3000m at the world indoor championships. 

Watch the UW Invitational 3000m with Sifan Hassan and Shalane Flanagan:


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Another marathoner prepping for Boston took to the track this weekend. Kellyn Taylor ran the mile in 4:33.40 at the Terrier Classic to finish second to Natalja Piliusina. Taylor beat her personal best in the distance from 2009 in a race that probably felt very, very short for her. 

Obscure Records & Other Odds & Ends

The quartet of Kyra Jefferson, Deajah Stevens, Asha Ruth, and Daina Harper set the American indoor record in the 4x200m. The group ran 1:32.67 at the Armory beating the old record was from 1994.

Not nearly as obscure — but worth a mention — was Laura Muir’s 1:59.69 800m on Sunday. The time is a Scottish record. The mid-distance runner announced early this year that she isn’t racing Commonwealth Games, but she is running the 2018 World Indoor Championships. She could have a chance to medal in any of three events: the 800m, 1500m, or 3000m.

Mariya Lasistkene high jumped 2.04 meters on Saturday. That is two centimeters off her personal best and five centimeters from the world record. 



Lasistkene was one of the 18 Russian athletes who had their status as “authorized neutral athletes” renewed last week by the IAAF. She won the world championships last year competing as a neutral athlete as Russian continues to be banned by the sport's governing body. 

Samuel Tefera Upsets Yomif Kejelcha, Breaks 1500m WR

Ethiopian Samuel Tefera broke the world record in the 1500m on Saturday, running 3:31.04 in Birmingham, England to better Hicham El Guerrouj’s mark of 3:31.18 from 1997. 

Hassan, Wanders To Race Monaco 5K On Sunday

Monaco is typically known as the home for one of the world’s top Diamond League meets. But this Sunday, a few of the biggest names in the world will take to the roads on the French Riviera in a 5K. The men’s field is highlighted by Julien Wanders, who just broke the European record in the half marathon, while Sifan Hassan is the top entrant for the women.

FloTrack Predicts Top-12 NCAA DMRs For This Weekend

This weekend for most mid-distance squads is called ‘DMR weekend’, where majority of the top DMR schools compete for an NCAA qualifier (Top-12 National Mark).

Weekend Watch Guide: Fast Miles & DMR At UW, Austin Marathon LIVE Sunday

With NCAA conference championships next weekend and many of the top pros coming off of the Millrose Games last Saturday, this upcoming Friday through Sunday will be a little quieter for the top track and field athletes. But there's still plenty of entertaining races coming your way on FloTrack this weekend, from fast mid-distance action in Seattle to our race coverage of the 2019 Austin Marathon and more.

House Of Run: What's Kejelcha's Next Move?

Jason and Kevin discuss Yomif Kejelcha’s almost world record, Ajee Wilson and Donavan Brazier’s American records, the scary scene involving Kemoy Campbell and all the other news from this year’s Millrose Games.

These 58 Returning All-Americans Haven't Qualified For NCAAs Yet

With just two weeks left to qualify for the 2019 Division I NCAA Indoor Championships, there are a lot of big names who have yet to make the top 16 in one of their marquee events. Below is a list of 161 athletes who have the talent or experience to become an All-American this year, but currently do not hold a top-16 mark. Among these athletes, a staggering 58 of them were All-Americans in 2018 (indoors/outdoors).

NCAA 800m Champ Sammy Watson Is Going Pro

2018 NCAA outdoor 800m champion Sammy Watson of Texas A&M, who won nationals as just a freshman last spring, has turned professional, according to the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle.

A Crazy Second Lap And Other Takeaways From Kejelcha's 3:48.46 Mile

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Despite falling short of his goal of breaking Hicham El Guerrouj’s 3:48.45 by an excruciating 0.01 seconds, Yomif Kejelcha’s mile on Saturday completely lived up to the pre-race hype. Not only did he run the fastest time indoors in 22 years, but his inconsistent splits underscored a performance that could have been faster with smoother pacing. And at just 21-years-old, Kejelcha’s near-miss at the Armory felt much more like a triumph than a failure.

Fantastic Update: Kemoy Campbell Is 'Awake And Talking'

Update: Kemoy Campbell posted an update on his Instragram, which included a video of him walking for the first time since arriving at the hospital on Saturday night:

FloSports Partners With KXAN To Air 2019 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon

Today, FloSports, the innovator in live digital sports and original content, and KXAN, the NBC affiliate station in Austin, announced a partnership to globally broadcast and provide live and on-demand coverage of the 2019 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon on FloTrack.com, while KXAN will broadcast to the local Austin Market.