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For an 800m runner, Charlene Lipsey is developing into quite the miler. At last week’s Sir Walter Miler, the 27-year-old ran 4:27.28 to take victory—showing that she has the endurance to be a competitor at the longer distance. But before we get to hypothesizing about what event Lipsey chooses to focus on in 2019, there still is the matter of figuring out just how high her ceiling is in the mile. Thursday night’s West Chester Mile can help us answer that.
In West Chester, Lipsey will be tested by 1500m specialists like Emily Lipari and Stephanie Brown. Lipari just ran her personal best of 4:05.68 in Heusden, Belgium. Put that together with her big kick to win the Morton Games 1500m and she is in great form at the moment.
Brown ran her lifetime best at the Portland Track Festival, where she won the race in 4:06.71. Like Lipari, she didn’t advance to the finals of the 1500m at the U.S. Championships, but she did bounce back to have a strong July.
The ascendent Ce’Aira Brown is scheduled to race. Like Lipsey, she's an 800m runner who dabbles in the longer distances. Her 2018 has been one lifetime best after the next. Nine of her 10 best 800m marks of all time have come in 2018. She’s dropped her personal best from 2:00.84 all the way down to 1:58.01 and shown no sign of slowing down. Brown was looking to reach her apex at the U.S. Championships, where she finished third and PR’d.
But then, she PR’d two more times. She’s not as tested in the 1500m/mile. Her best in the 1500m is a 4:09.44 from March and her best mile also came in Santa Barbara in April, a 4:36.94.
Also expected to contend is Helen Schlachtenhaufen, also just off personal best in Heusden (4:06.04) and placed eighth at the U.S. Championships.
Amanda Eccleston and Lauren Johnson will look to improve upon their placing at Sir Walter, where they took 11th and 13th, respectively. Both women have run 4:25 for the mile.
The men’s field is headed up by Johnny Gregorek. He ran an outdoor personal best of 3:54.53 to finish runner-up at Sir Walter. It was Gregorek’s second 3:54 of the year. This field in West Chester isn't as stacked so Gregorek is the rightful favorite. He will be joined by four of his NJ-NY Track Club teammates—Ford Palmer, Travis Mahoney, Rob Napolitano, and Ben Malone.
The most interesting entrant, and perhaps the one who is most likely to upset Gregorek, is 24-year-old Charlie Marquardt. Marquardt had a huge breakthrough at Sir Walter Miler, running 3:55.97 to break four minutes for the first time and cutting more than four seconds off his lifetime best. Can he drop his time even more on Thursday night? The Sir Walter field was so deep (13 men broke four minutes), that Marquardt was only able to take ninth—if he runs the same way in West Chester he will surely be toward the front of the pack.