Paul Chelimo Chases American 2 Mile Record & More Pre Classic Storylines

The sole U.S. stop on the IAAF Diamond League circuit is this weekend's Prefontaine Classic. This year's event marks its final appearance at pre-construction era Hayward Field, as the University of Oregon's historic facility will undergo massive renovations this summer in preparation to host the 2021 IAAF World Championships.

All the stars come out for the Pre Classic and this year is no exception. Read on for storylines to follow in each event.

Men's 2 Mile: Paul Chelimo Chases American Record

Matt Tegenkamp's American record of 8:07.07 in the two-mile may not make its 11th birthday, as the United States' top 5K runner Paul Chelimo has declared his intent to run faster on Friday night in Eugene.

Chelimo's 3K PB of 7:31.57 equates to 8:07.56, so the record is definitely within his reach. There is a huge chance he breaks the record and doesn't win the race, given the deep level of competition in the field.

FloTrack talked to Matt Tegenkamp after he broke the American record for two miles at the 2007 Prefontaine Classic:

Matt Tegenkamp


The major players include reigning world 5K champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia; four-time global medalist Paul Tanui of Kenya; world indoor 3K silver medalist Selemon Barega of Ethiopia; and Birhanu Yemataw of Bahrain, who most recently prevented Chelimo from earning his first Diamond League victory at the Shanghai 5K, 13:09.64 to 13:09.66

The big wildcard here is Skechers' Edward Cheserek, who is making his outdoor pro debut after a stellar indoor season saw him run the second-fastest mile in world history, 3:49.44.

Bowerman Mile: Jakob Ingebrigtsen vs. The Big Boys

The two best 1500m runners in the world, Kenya's Elijah Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot, will square off in a redux of their 2017 battle at the Prefontaine Classic, where they placed 2-3 in a blanket finish behind fellow Kenyan Ronald Kwemoi.

Manangoi would go on to win the world title in London later in the summer, though Cheruiyot would capture the title of 2017 IAAF Diamond League champion.

Cheruiyot started his season with a win in the Shanghai DL 1500m, though he was pushed to the line by 18-year-old Samuel Tefera of Ethiopia, who is also entered here. Manangoi ran the 800m in Shanghai, where he was second.

Norwegian wunderkind Jakob Ingebrigtsen is coming off a somewhat unlikely win in the Payton Jordan Invitational 1500m over a few of the top Americans here, including reigning Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz and world indoor finalist Craig Engels. The 2017 Prefontaine Classic is where he rose to worldwide prominence by becoming the youngest man in world history to break four minutes in the mile at age 16.

Watch Jakob Ingebrigtsen win the Payton Jordan 1500m over Centrowitz and Chelimo:

TASTY RACE: Teenager Jakob Ingebrigtsen Upsets Centro And Chelimo


Centrowitz and Engels' Nike Oregon Project teammate Clayton Murphy moves up in distance for the first time this season. He lowered his season's best in the 800m to 1:45.9 with a sixth-place run in Shanghai.

Women's 5K: Genzebe Dibaba vs. Hellen Obiri



The two stars of this show, at least on paper, are Genzebe Dibaba and Hellen Obiri, the fourth- and fifth-fastest women in history over 5K. 

Though Obiri decimated the field at last summer's IAAF World Championships in the event—defeating 10K world record Almaz Ayana by six seconds—she has not looked as strong in 2018 as she placed just fourth in the world indoor 3K final and a well-beaten 14th at the Doha Diamond League 3K.

Dibaba is traditionally a formidable indoor track runner and is coming off a flawless winter season this year that included two golds in the world indoor 3K and 1500m. The Pre Classic 5K is her outdoor debut and she returns as the defending champion in the 5K.

Beyond the big two names, athletes capable of making an impact include the Netherlands' Sifan Hassan, the 2018 IAAF world indoor silver and bronze medalist for 3K and 1500m; and Germany's Konstanze Klosterhalfen, a huge young talent who has run 14:51 for 5K and 3:58 for 1500m; both of whom are not listed on the Diamond League start list but will be in the race, according to the event website.

Ethiopians Gudaf Tsegay (3:59 1500m) and Fantu Worku (8:39 3K) will make their 5K debuts.

Men's 100m/200m: Christian Coleman Goes For The Double



A Diamond League event isn't usually the type of meet where athletes double in multiple events, but the United States' Christian Coleman is a special specimen. The reigning world indoor champion and world record holder for 60m will make his open outdoor debut by taking on loaded fields in the 100m and 200m in less than 90 minutes on Saturday.

The 100m, a non-DL event, is up first. Coleman, whose PB is 9.82, will face Shanghai DL winner Reece Prescod of Great Britain, reigning DL champion C.J. Ujah of Great Britain, world indoor 60m silver medalist Bingtian Su of China and world indoor 60m bronze medalist Ronnie Baker of the U.S. round out the field.

Reigning world champion Justin Gatlin was originally listed among entries, but has apparently withdrawn from the race.

The 200m pits Coleman against reigning world champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey, 2017 DL champion Noah Lyles of the U.S. and Botswana's standout Isaac Makwala, whose 19.77 is the fastest PB in the field.

Women's 400m: World Final Rematch Headlined By Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Phyllis Francis, Allyson Felix



This race is absolutely loaded with talent, thanks to the likes of reigning Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, reigning world champion Phyllis Francis, reigning world indoor champion Courtney Okolo and the United States' most decorated female track and field Olympian, Allyson Felix.

Add in 2017 world silver medalist Salwa Eid Naser and 2018 world indoor silver medalist Shakima Wimbley, and you have a race.

Most of these women are making their outdoor debuts in this event, which makes it super unpredictable—though Wimbley has run 50.18 already. Just take a look at the above photo to see how close things were the last time they all raced at last year's world final, with Francis taking the surprise win over Naser, Felix and Miller-Uibo.

The top two fastest times in the world this year are by collegians, Kendall Ellis' 49.99 and Sydney McLaughlin's 50.07. Can the pros rewrite the world lists?

Women's 100m: Tori Bowie Takes On Elaine Thompson, Marie Josée Ta Lou, Murielle Ahouré, Dafne Schippers



Reigning 100m world champion Tori Bowie skipped out on the indoor season and while she's raced here and there (11.04, 22.75 SB) outdoors, Prefontaine will mark her true season opener.

She'll be joined by 100m world silver and bronze medalists Marie Josée Ta Lou and Dafne Schippers, as well as fourth-placer Murielle Ahouré and fifth-placer Elaine Thompson, the reigning Olympic and Diamond League champion in the event.

Ta Lou currently leads the world lists with her Doha-winning mark of 10.85. Blessing Okagbare, second in Doha and No. 2 on the world lists at 10.90, will also contend for the win.

Men's Steeplechase: World Medalists Conseslus Kipruto, Evan Jager Soufiane El Bakkali Reconvene

Three men who have finished in the top four in the world for the past Olympic/World Championships cycle will have another go at it this Saturday at Pre. Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya is the undisputed king of the steeplechase after winning the past two world titles, though Evan Jager of the United States has made him work for it—and racked up an Olympic silver medal and world bronze for his efforts.

Kipruto won the Commonwealth Games steeple in April with a time of 8:10.08, which remains the world leader.

Women's 1500m: Jenny Simpson vs. Laura Muir, Plus Colorado's Dani Jones 

The two fastest women in the 1500m field are Jenny Simpson of the United States, who captured silver in the world final last summer, and Laura Muir of Great Britain, who ran a great double at this March's World Indoor Championships, capturing bronze in the 3K and silver in the 1500m. Muir's 3:55 PB also makes her the fifth-fastest woman in world history.

Though Muir would have been a heavy favorite to medal at the Commonwealth Games, she skipped the championship to focus on finishing veterinary school. The Prefontaine Classic will thus mark her outdoor debut.

Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya has huge range (4:03 1500/8:59 steeple/14:39 5K) and is coming off a win in the Shanghai DL steeplechase. She was runner-up in the Commonwealth Games 1500m to Caster Semenya.

Other challengers include fellow sub-4 minute runners Winny Chebet (3:59 PB) and Dawit Seyaum (3:58 PB), plus Brenda Martinez, the 2013 world silver medalist.

The Bowerman Babes also have a solid trio entered: 1500m world indoor finalists Shelby Houlihan and Colleen Quigley, and world outdoor semi-finalist Kate Grace.

There's also one surprise NCAA entrant.

While the rest of the Colorado Buffs will compete in Sacramento this weekend for the NCAA West Prelims, junior Dani Jones—who appears to be redshirting after an up-and-down indoor season—will compete in her first Diamond League race.

Jones ran a career-best effort of 4:08 last year, which makes her one of the slower athletes in the field, but it should be exciting to see how she fares. After all, the Pre Classic served as former Buff Simpson's coming out party in 2009, when she clocked 3:59.9 to set a new collegiate record.

Women's 800m: Caster Semenya vs. Everybody



The most loaded women's distance event at the Prefontaine Classic is definitely the 800m. Worldbeater Caster Semenya is back to defend her title in what might be her last season racing with her natural body chemistry.

The 27-year-old beat Margaret Wambui by nearly two seconds to win the Commonwealth Games in 1:56.68, which should give you an idea of what her winning margin might be on Saturday.

Last year, the natural pecking order in the women's 800m was consistently Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba, Ajee Wilson and then Wambui, with everyone else a second or two behind in no particular order. 

Have things changed? We'll find out on Saturday...

Wilson's Juvenus TC teammates Charlene Lipsey and Raevyn Rogers are also in the Diamond League section, as is 2016 Olympian Chrishuna Williams.

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