Sean McGorty, Elle Purrier Make Statement Wins Ahead of Trials; DK Metcalf Show Gets Eyes
Unpacking all of the action from the USATF Golden Games at Mt. SAC and other performances you may have missed in the track and field world
This is the CITIUS MAG Newsletter, a weekly round-up of the biggest stories in the running and track & field community with analysis and commentary by me, Chris Chavez. If you’ve been forwarded this email or stumbled upon a link online, you can sign up and subscribe here:
The Olympic Trials just got a little bit more interesting after Sean McGorty ran 8:20.77 to win his 3,000m steeplechase debut at the USATF Golden Games on Sunday night to give him the Olympic standard for the Summer Games in Tokyo.
McGorty immediately looked like he belonged in the race. He stayed back behind Evan Jager, who was entered in his first steeplechase race since 2018 but served as the pacer through about two kilometers before pulling off the track. A group of six were all in contention once Jager dropped out. 2018 NCAA champion Obsa Ali made a charge at the bell but McGorty and Dan Michalski quickly covered it and overtook him in the last backstretch.
McGorty’s first steeplechase race gets an A. He looked comfortable over the barriers and water jumps. His first attempt was faster than when Evan Jager ran 8:26.14 in his first try at the distance at the 2012 Mt. SAC Relays. Jager got down to 8:20.90 about a month later and then won both his races at the Olympic Trials. We’ll have to wait and see if McGorty gets another crack at the event.
According to LetsRun’s Jonathan Gault, McGorty told the post-race press conference that he had been planning to try the steeplechase in 2019. However, McGorty had a staph infection in his right foot that seeped into his heel bone and required surgery. He didn’t race from May 17, 2019 until Feb. 15, 2020. He showed he was back to full form last summer with a 5,000m personal best of 13:11.22 in a June 30 intrasquad meet with his Bowerman teammates. His flat race personal bests of 3:36.61 for 1,500m and 13:06.45, which he set on March 6, 2021 in California just add further credence as to why he’s a strong contender for an Olympic team spot in the steeplechase. His other option could be the 5,000 meters but he’d run into several of his Bowerman teammates with faster personal bests including Lopez Lomong (13:00.13), Woody Kincaid (12:58.10) and Grant Fisher (13:02.53) and you can’t count out Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo.
Michalski, who closed with a 62.38 final lap, lowered his personal best from 8:29.83 to 8:21.25 for second. He’s a 25-year-old competing under Tracksmith’s Amateur Support Program. In 2019, he was leading in the NCAA Championships but fell on the final water barrier and was unable to recover and took seventh in 8:43.48 He rebounded later that summer by running 8:30.69.
McGorty, Michalski, Isaac Updike, Mason Ferlic, Hilary Bor, Stanley Kebenei and Andy Bayer are the only men with the Olympic standard for Tokyo. Bayer is retired. Bor and Kebenei haven’t looked like they’re in top form in the steeplechase. Updike and Ferlic are trending in the right direction. Yet, you can’t discount the guys who have been there at the last two Olympics with Jager and Donn Cabral still biding their time to peak.
As mentioned on the broadcast, Jager can compete at the Olympic Trials without a qualifier thanks to his bronze medal at the 2017 world championships. He’ll have to get the Olympic standard of 8:22.00 in Eugene, unless he tunes up with a steeple race between now and the trials. Open invitation to compete at the Trials of Miles New York City Qualifier.
D.K. Metcalf Runs A Decent 100m, Snags Headlines
– The most anticipated men’s 100m since the 2019 world championships final would be the lead item in the newsletter but I felt like giving DK Metcalf the top spot in back-to-back weeks would be a bit much. The Seattle Seahawks wide receiver ended up running 10.37 (1.0 m/s wind) and finished ninth/last in his heat of the men’s 100m. He was 15th of 17 guys who competed as Brazil’s Derick Silva and USA’s Maurice Eaddy were the only runners slower on the day.
Metcalf defied most expectations. I thought he’d be more in line with Ato Boldon’s 10.5 prediction but he held his own and told the media that he thinks he “did very well for myself.” A 60m dash would be really cool to see him participate in because his start was decent and then it was the field that pulled away from him at the end of the race.
According to TV personality Emmanuel Acho, he asked Metcalf why he decided to do this and he said, “Everybody else is scared to do it.” It’s somewhat true. We see the headlines constantly with soccer players and NFL players being touted for world-class speed. Bolt’s run faster in sweatpants and yesterday, one of the best NFL players was beaten handily by athletes who train for this regularly. Yes, he garnered a lot of attention for it but he also earned respect from some members of the track and field community and brought people in to watch – even if it was for 10-20 seconds. Heck, the sport got some attention from Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.
Here are just a few of the track reactions:
2016 U.S. Olympian & 100m semi-finalist Marvin Bracy tweeted: “I tip my hat to you @dkm14”
2016 U.S. Olympian, 4x national champion Devon Allen tweeted, “Yo that was SOLID for sure! RESPECT @dkm14”
Two-time decathlon world champion Trey Hardee tweeted: “The dust has settled and I’ve only come to one conclusion: @dkm14 is at the top of my fantasy draft board for next season! Run some more 9’s!!”
This wasn’t a high-stakes meet where Metcalf was taking an opportunity away from a professional runner so I’m good with it. On the flip side, I can see why focusing too much attention on these exhibitions can take away attention from other great athletes like Will Claye, who won the triple jump in 17.15m, but says not one jump of his was shown on the TV broadcast. While Metcalf’s race led to thousands of people sharing, watching and discussing it on social media, the hope is that once someone tunes in, they stick around for more than 10 to 20 seconds to learn more about these other stars but we can’t get stuck in making it an hour-long DK Metcalf show.
One other interesting nugget that I caught was Boldon told The Dan Patrick Show that if Metcalf approached him on a four-year project to try and make an Olympic team, the NBC analyst thinks “he’d have a legitimate shot.” The big thing would be getting down closer to 200 lbs. and leaving millions of dollars behind in the NFL.
More from Mt. SAC...
– Elle Purrier had a statement win in the women’s 1,500m by making a 3:58.36 look so comfortable by running from the front for most of the race. We still don’t know how Shelby Houlihan looks this season and Jenny Simpson had a bad race at Oregon two weeks ago so I’d put Purrier in the top U.S. women’s 1,500m slot for now. It’s not a hot take since she was on fire indoors and holds the American indoor mile + two-mile record.
Canada’s Gabriele DeBues-Stafford was on Purrier’s heels through 1,200m before Purrier pulled away. She took second in 4:00.69 for her outdoor season opener. (Everyone’s been calling it that but technically the Texas Qualifier was an outdoor season opener in 2021. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) Quietly in that race, Lucia Stafford ran a personal best of 4:05.90. So maybe the Stafford duo ends up representing Canada together in Tokyo in the 1,500m?
Shannon Osika stuck her nose in the mix and came away with a 4:00.73 personal best down from her 4:01.80 in 2019. She’s been in the conversation for years now but can’t discount her in that unpredictable 1,500m race that’s set to come at the trials.
– In the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, American record holder Courtney Frerichs sat patiently before pulling away to a 9:27.70 win and the Olympic standard. Leah Falland continues trending upward in her comeback by running 9:28.72 and closing on Frerichs in the final lap. Marissa Howard, who won the Kansas City Qualifier last weekend, also got under the Olympic standard for a 9:29.65 personal best. In this event, you have to think Emma Coburn and Colleen Quigley are favorites to make the Olympic team but as we get more women under the Olympic standard, those last few laps at the Trials could have more women in the mix than we’ve seen in recent years.
– Sha’Carri Richardson ran 10.74 in the heats of the 100m, which is the fastest anyone has ever run in the first round. In the final, she ran 10.77 but into a 1.2 m/s headwind. Boldon said on the broadcast that it's worth something in the 10.6X range in better conditions. She said she wasn’t disappointed in the race and “At the end of the day, I know I can do better.”
– On the men’s side, Ollie Hoare and Justyn Knight glued themselves to the pacer and snagged Olympic standards for the 1,500m. Hoare won in 3:33.18, which only strengthens his case for selection by Athletics Australia for their squad in Tokyo. He ran 3:32.35 indoors for a national record and has run a 13:22.16 5K PR this outdoor season. This can’t mess this up. He should be a shoo-in. In his post-race interview, Knight complimented Hoare’s form for distracting him and dragging him to a PB despite this not being his main event.
– There were 14 women in the 800 during the main event, which looked like chaos with people brushing elbows for their space. Great Britain took 1–2 with Jemma Reekie and Laura Muir running 1:58.27 and 1:58.46. Seven women broke two minutes including Heather MacLean and Sinclaire Johnson doing it for the first time. In the B-heat, 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials champion Kate Grace won in 1:59.72. Brenda Martinez ran 1:59.87 in her first race since last August.
– In the women’s 110m hurdles, 2019 world championship silver medalist Keni Harrison won in 12.48 to equal her season’s best. Sydney McLaughlin set a personal best of 12.65 for fifth place in the race, which is a good sign for when she decides to open up in the 400m hurdles. She hasn’t run her specialty event since the 2019 world championships final in Doha, where she ran 52.23 for silver behind Dalilah Muhammad.
– Gabby Thomas won the women’s 200m in 22.12. Allyson Felix was second in 22.26. Her husband and daughter were spotted wearing shirts that said, “My Wife/Mom Is Faster Than Your Mom.”
– Noah Lyles cruised to a 19.90 victory to catch Kenny Bednarek for the win in the men’s 200m. In the B heat that took place earlier in the day, 17-year-old sprint star Erriyon Knighton set a personal best of 20.30, which puts him at No. 9 on the U.S. all-time boys high school list. That’s just .01 faster than Matthew Boling ran in 2019.
– Rai Benjamin ran 47.13 to break Edwin Moses’ stadium record at Mt. SAC. This was his first 400m hurdles race since his silver medal at the 2019 world championships.
– Donavan Brazier scratched from the men’s 800m. Bryce Hoppel ran 1:44.94 for a season’s best and the win. This is his seventh sub-1:45 of his career. Kenya’s Michael Saruni was second in 1:45.18. Clayton Murphy took third in 1:45.31, which is the fastest he’s run for the event indoors or outdoors since the semifinals at the 2019 world championships.
– Mason Ferlic set a personal best of 13:24.94 to win the men’s 5,000m. Took almost a full second off his time from his win at the Texas Qualifier. Julie-Anne Staehli ran 15:02.34 for the win, which makes her the sixth-fastest Canadian all-time. Only Andrea Seccafien and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford have run faster in the last two years. Laura Galvan, who has made a name for herself with victories on the Trials of Miles circuit, broke the Mexican national record in the 5,000m with a 15:02.48 runner-up finish. The previous record of 15:04.32 was held by Adriana Fernández set in 2003. Canada’s Natalia Hawthorn and Great Britain’s Jessica Judd also got under the Olympics standard. It was not the best day for Molly Huddle as she finished in fifth place in 15:23.24. Maggie Montoya, who was working at the King Soopers supermarket’s pharmacy in Boulder, Colo. during the mass shooting on March 22 that left 10 people dead, returned to racing and set a personal best of 15:25.81 to get her closer to an Olympic Trials berth.
The Oregon Twilight Meet Notables
– Notre Dame’s Yared Nuguse just outleaned Oregon’s Cooper Teare for the 3:35.96 win in the men’s 1,500m and the fastest time in the NCAA on the season. Not only that but Nuguse is now the fastest American 1,500m runner of the year. Teare was second in 3:35.97 and his teammate Cole Hocker took third in an outdoor personal best of 3:36.47.
Watch the last lap below:
– Adams State’s Eilish Flanagan, who represents Ireland internationally, broke the NCAA Division II steeplechase record with a 9:40.68 victory. The previous record of 9:47.92 was held by Western Colorado’s Alicja Konieczek.
Elsewhere Around the Running World
– Wearing Nike spikes despite being sponsored by Adidas, Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay ran 29:39.42 for her 10,000m debut at the Fernanda Ribeiro Gold Gala in Portugal. That time puts her at No. 5 all-time behind Almaz Ayana, Wang Junxia, Vivian Cheruiyot and Sifan Hassan. In 2021, Tsegay has run 1:57.52 indoors for 800m, 3:53.09 indoors for 1,500m, 8:22.65 indoors for 3,000m, 14:49.7 for 5,000m at altitude in Ethiopia and now the world-leading time for 10,000m outdoors. Interesting what she may ultimately end up deciding on as her focus for Tokyo.
Here’s how a 1,500m and 10,000m double would look like:
Monday, Aug. 2; AM session– 1,500 Round 1
Wednesday, Aug. 4; PM session – 1,500m Semifinal
Friday, Aug. 6; PM session – 1,500m Final
Saturday, Aug. 7; AM session – 10,000m
This just reminded me that we haven’t seen the reigning Olympic champion Ayana in action since she finished 18th/last in the women’s 3,000m at the Prefontaine Classic held at Stanford on June 30 in 2019. She missed the Doha world championships since it appears she was still recovering from undergoing surgery on both her knees in 2018.
– Benjamin Pacheco went viral on social media after running 14:47.62 for 5,000m while wearing Crocs at the Portland Track Twilight Meet. A few years back, he ran 71:53 at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Half Marathon.
– Newbury Park (CA) took victories in the girls and boys 3,200m at the Arcadia Invitational. Mia Barnett won the girl’s race in 10:01.18. Colin Sahlman led 15 boys under 9:00 with his 8:44.42 win. His teammate Lex Young (NAU freshman star Nico Young’s younger brother) took him to the line and finished second in 8:43.71.
– In Michigan, Hobbs Kessler won a 3,200m in 8:54.42 as five boys broke nine minutes. Kessler closed his final 400m in 56.8.
– Under rainy conditions, Ryan Crouser threw 22.69m for the second-farthest throw in the world for 2021 behind Joe Kovacs’ 22.72 earlier this month. Darrell Hill had his fourth-best throw ever with a 22.34 to win at Mt. SAC so the United States’ squad from the 2019 world championships currently occupies the top three spots on the world list. Keep your eyes peeled on the USATF Throws Festival on May 22 in Tucson, AZ for some big possible marks.
– A test event took place at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium. One of the best performances was 19-year-old Ryuji Miura winning the men’s steeplechase in 8:17.46 to break the Japanese national record and qualify for the Summer Games. The previous record was 8:18.93 set by Yoshitaka Iwamizu in 2003. His compatriots Kosei Yamaguchi and Ryohei Sakaguchi were third and fourth in the race in 8:22.39 and 8:23.93, which was good enough to crack the all-time top 10 Japanese performers list at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively.
Watch the race below. Miura takes the lead with less than three laps to go and never lets up.
On The CITIUS MAG Podcast
“I’m thankful for the opportunity I have to make the U.S. Trials. It’s always easy to talk about things you don’t have but I’m so thankful for this club. For the first time in my career, I feel like I have opportunities to run times that I dreamed of when I was 13 or 14 years old and first started the sport. If you told my sophomore year high school or 15-year-old self that I’d have an opportunity to run 3:55 or 3:54 (for the mile), I probably wouldn’t believe you. But now I 100% believe it.”
In this episode, you’ll get to know Empire Elite’s Eric Holt a bit better after he recently won the Trials of Miles Kansas City Qualifier men’s 1,500. He’s one of the guys on the cusp of break 3:40 and trying to get into the U.S. Olympic Trials. Eric went to Binghamton, where he was a six-time America East track and field champion. Eric took a break from the sport after graduating but is now fully back in. He’s run 3:40.77 for the 1,500m and 3:58.88 for the mile. This one goes out to all of the people who know there’s more to give after college and are still willing to give it your best shot, because that’s what he’s doing.
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That’s it from me in the latest edition of the CITIUS MAG Newsletter. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, learned something new or have any questions or commentary on anything featured in this issue, feel free to hit my inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org