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This weekend marks the unofficial beginning to the 2019 track season, and the best distance action of kick-off Saturday will be at the UW Indoor Preview in Seattle. Pro athletes like Clayton Murphy, Yomif Kejelcha, Katie Mackey and Josh Kerr will look to break up the monotony of winter miles with an early-season test, and droves of collegians will line up next to them. The meet will also feature the return to action of 1,500m American record holder Shannon Rowbury, who missed the 2018 track season as she welcomed her first child.
Here are the events to watch from Seattle:
Men’s Mile (12:10 pm PT)
Who: Clayton Murphy (Nike Oregon Project), Yomif Kejelcha (Nike Oregon Project), Drew Windle (Brooks Beasts), Sam Parsons (Adidas/Tinman Elite), Amos Bartelsmeyer (Unattached)
Analysis: Nike Oregon Project studs Clayton Murphy and Yomif Kejelcha will race each other for the first time on Saturday, and they'll do so twice as both double in the 1k and mile. The Olympic 800m medalist Murphy is prepping for a fast Wanamaker mile later this indoor season at the Millrose Games, and the two-time defending World Indoor 3k champion Kejelcha-- who won three races at the Dempsey in 2018-- will pose a significant challenge to the American.
2018 800m World Indoor silver medalist Drew Windle will also make an appearance in the fast heat, and this race will mark his first indoor mile in nearly three years. Windle probably isn’t ready to hang with the NOP duo in a distance outside of his comfort zone, but expect his 4:09 PR to drop significantly this weekend.
Two other names to watch are 3:57 miler Amos Bartelsmeyer and 3:38 1,500m guy Sam Parsons.
Women’s Mile (11:35 am PT)
Who: Konstanze Klosterhalfen (Nike Oregon Project), Katie Mackey (Brooks Beasts), Lilli Burdon (Washington), Katie Rainsberger (Washington)
Analysis: 21-year-old Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany will make her Nike Oregon Project debut on Saturday, and she'll do so in classic NOP fashion: by doubling in the 1k and mile in quick succession. Her 3:58 1,500m best makes her the class of the mile field, but she'll be running on tired legs with approximately 25 minutes between races.
Challenging the German will be Katie Mackey, who had a banner 2018 indoor season that culminated in the first World team of her career. The former Washington star will try to begin 2019 in victory against Klosterhalfen and two current Husky All-Americans-- Lilli Burdon and Katie Rainsberger.
Women's 3,000m (3:35 pm PT)
Who: Shannon Rowbury (Nike Oregon Project), Mel Lawrence (Oiselle), Allie Buchalski (Brooks Beasts)
Analysis: 1,500m American record holder Shannon Rowbury had a baby girl in June, and this weekend will mark her first track race since Sep. 2017. The World Indoor 3k medalist will battle Oiselle's Mel Lawrence and her 8:50 PR, as well as 2018 NCAA 5k runner-up and new pro Allie Buchalski.
Men’s 800m (2:50 pm PT)
Who: Josh Kerr (Brooks Beasts), Derek Thomas (Hoka Aggies)
Analysis: NCAA 1,500m record holder and Brooks Beasts pro Josh Kerr will step down to the 800m on Saturday as he races at the Dempsey Indoor for the first time in his career. The 21-year-old has a 1:48.87 indoor PR that could be in jeopardy this weekend as he faces 1:47 guy Derek Thomas.