With the 2018 U.S. Championships a week away and the qualifying window for the IAAF Indoor Championships quickly approaching, Saturday’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix is one of the final chances for professional athletes to round into form before the postseason begins.
Christian Coleman, Edward Cheserek, Jenny Simpson, Emma Coburn, and Raevyn Rogers are all scheduled to compete in Boston, which is available live on FloTrack for U.K. and Ireland viewers.
Here are five storylines that we are following.
Christian Coleman Could Set A World Record That Counts
Coleman’s scintillating 6.37 60m dash at the beginning of the year most likely won’t count as a world record because the facility was not using electronic blocks and the meet did not have on-site drug testing. Assuming both of those pieces are in place in Boston on Saturday (and Coleman once again runs under 6.39) the world record will be his without any asterisk or debate.
If he runs that fast he won’t have any competition from the rest of the field. If he falters, Noah Lyles could apply some pressure. The 200m specialist popped a 6.59 last weekend to finish runner-up at the Millrose Games.
What Does Edward Cheserek Do In The Second Half Of His Weekend Double?
On Friday night, Cheserek will attempt to become the fourth person ever to break 3:50 in the mile indoors (and he’s doing it live on FloTrack). Less than 24 hours later, he’s scheduled to race in a different indoor track in Boston at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Cheserek is entered in to the 3000m and will get tough competition from Ethiopian's Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet.
While it’s difficult to say how Cheserek will respond to two races in back-to-back days, he does have experience from his college days of racing multiple times in a short time frame. Given that experience, plus his incredible hot streak this winter, it would be foolish to count him out in this race, even against more seasoned international stars. Gebrhiwet is the world leader with a 7:37.91 from Dusseldorf last weekend and Gebremeskel is an Olympic silver medalist in the 5000m.
U.S. Championships Preview In Women’s 800m
They teamed up to take down the world record in the 4x800m at the Millrose Games last weekend, but on Saturday Raevyn Rogers and Charlene Lipsey will be back in their usual role as competitors. If you assume that Ajee Wilson is a safe bet to grab one of the spots on the world championship team, then that leaves only one space on the American women’s 800m team.
Rogers and Lipsey look like the top two candidates and both will be looking for some positive momentum heading the 2018 U.S. Championships. On the season thus far, the two are quite close. Rogers had a faster split in the 4x800m, but Lipsey wasn’t far behind. We are only one year removed from a season in which Lipsey ran 1:58 indoors and ran under 1:58 on two occasions outdoors. Saturday’s race should indicate just how tight that race for a top-two finish at the U.S. championships will be.
The Return Of Boris Berian
Saturday will mark the return of Boris Berian in the men’s 800m. This will be his first appearance since 2016. Berian was out all of 2017 with injuries and the last race he finished was the 800m final at the 2016 Olympics. Before his year away from competition, Berian had one of the most rapid ascensions in the sport — rising from obscurity to run 1:43, win an world indoor title, and qualify for the Olympics. Saturday will be an interesting glimpse at whether he is poised to rejoin the ranks of the best middle-distance runners in the world.
Donavan Brazier, who won the 2017 U.S. Championships in Berian’s absence, looks like the man to beat in Saturday’s field. Brazier finished second last weekend at Millrose in 1:45.35. The time was an indoor personal best and third best American time ever indoors. With USAs just one week away, he can cement his place as favorite with another strong performance in Boston.
The Debut Of Jenny Simpson
The 3000m will be the first chance of the season to see last year’s silver medalist, Jenny Simpson. Throughout her career, Simpson has often debuted at this meet and performed well. Her personal best of 8:42.03 from the 2009 NCAA Championships could be topped with some solid pacing in the early laps.
Her best competition should come from steeplechase gold medalist, Emma Coburn. Coburn ran 8:41.16 at the Millrose Games to finish just behind the winner of the race Aisha Praught-Leer. If she takes another step forward this week, we could see a time in the 8:30s. Also entered is Fotyen Tesfay of Ethiopian. She was fourth at the 2016 World Junior Championships.