Ajee Wilson had her work cut out for her when she received the baton at Saturday’s Millrose Games. In order to break the 4x800m relay indoor world record, Wilson needed to run close to her indoor personal best. The three teammates who ran before Wilson didn’t leave her much room for error, but they did run fast enough to give a her chance of breaking the existing world record of 8:06.24.
While passing lapped runners and putting the second-place team out of sight, Wilson cobbled together an anchor leg of 1:58.37, and her 800m split lifted the United States team to a time of 8:05.89, besting the times set by a Russian quartet in 2011.
After the first leg, the American chances looked dim. Chrishuna Williams led off for the United States in 2:05.10, far slower than the average split the American team needed to break the record. But Raevyn Rogers and Charlene Lipsey responded with splits of 2:00.45 and 2:01.98 in the second and third legs, keeping the quest for 8:06 alive.
When Lipsey handed off to Wilson, she needed to run 1:58.71 to break the record. And she’d have to do it with only the clock as competition. The second-place team, the New York All-Stars, were close at the final exchange, but Wilson quickly dispatched them. The only athletes she had to chase were lapped runners. But with one lap remaining, Wilson had the record in her grasp and was able to secure the record for the United States.
The 4x800 wasn’t the only race that featured historic performances at the Armory. In the women’s 300m, Shaunae Miller ran 35.45, tying Irina Privalova’s world record from 1993. Miller took command of the race early and built up a margin that only seemed to increase throughout the race. Sage Watson finished second in 37.08.
The men’s 800m also created some serious revisions to the all-time lists.
The large field of 10 athletes didn’t slow down the pace as the rabbit Russell Dinkins took to the front with an opening laps of 24.39 and 25.99. After Dinkins stepped off, the race came down to two runners: Emmanuel Korir and Donavan Brazier.
Brazier led at the bell, but Korir came flying past in the final 200m to run 1:44.21. Brazier held on for second in 1:45.35 and Drew Windle made late charge to run 1:45.53. Korir’s mark is the third-fastest ever indoors and Brazier and Windle’s times make them the second- and third-best Americans ever in the event.
Kyle Langford ran 1:46.43 for fourth, and Clayton Murphy took fifth in 1:46.61.
In the Wanamaker Mile, Chris O’Hare found himself all alone at the front of the pack after the pacer stepped off the track. With four laps remaining, O’Hare had established a sizable cushion on the rest of the field. He continued to click off laps right around 29 seconds as the rest of the field was unable to cut into his margin.
On the final lap, the pack started to move. Ben Blankenship and Josh Kerr gave chase as O’Hare slowed slightly and looked over his shoulder frequently to check on his evaporating lead. But O’Hare had just enough. He finished in 3:54.14, ahead of Kerr’s 3:54.72 and Blankenship’s 3:54.77. Nick Willis, who was attempting to win his first Wanamaker Mile of his career, took fifth in 3:57.72.
There was also some late-race drama in the women’s Wanamaker Mile. At the bell, six women were within one second of the lead. But steeplechaser Colleen Quigley was able to hold her position in the front to win in 4:30.05. Kate Grace closed quickly but had to settle for second in 4:30.08. Ireland’s Ciara Mageean placed third in 4:30.99.
A collegiate record fell in the women’s 3000m. Karissa Schweizer of Missouri ran 8:41.60 to place fourth in the race, breaking Jenny Simpson’s mark of 8:42.03 from 2009. That mark is the latest in string of impressive performances for Schweizer. Last week at the Armory she ran 4:27.54 in the mile.
Ahead of Schweizer on Saturday, training partners Aisha Praught-Leer and Emma Coburn went one-two. The steeplechasers finished in 8:41.10 and 8:41.16, both personal bests. Dominique Scott was just behind in third running 8:41.18.
Shadrack Kipchirchir kept up his winning ways this indoor season, taking the men’s 3000m. Kipchirchir led at the bell and then ran the final 200 meters in 26.69 to finish in 7:45.49. Justyn Knight, who finished second to Kipchirchir last week in a mile in Boston, passed two runners on the last lap to take second in 7:45.86. Ryan Hill and Woody Kincaid, both of the Bowerman Track Club, rounded out the top four.
Earlier in the meet, high schooler Brodey Hasty just missed becoming the third high schooler to break four minutes. The senior from Tennessee ran 4:00.05 to take fifth in the invitational mile. Eric Avila won that race in 3:57.45.
In the sprints and hurdles, Ronnie Baker ran 6.48 to win the 60m. Noah Lyles finished second in 6.59, a personal best. Murielle Ahoure ran 7.11 to take the women’s 60m, holding off Tori Bowie who posted a 7.14.
Devon Allen just edged Aries Merritt in the men’s 60m hurdles 7.50 and 7.53. The times were season bests for both men. In the women’s race, Tobi Amusan was the only woman to break eight seconds. The 20-year-old posted a 7.90 to finish in front of Kristi Castlin (8.02) and Queen Harrison (8.03).