James Mwaura finishes third in TrackTown USA 3K at Lilac Grand Prix | Sports

James Mwaura placed third in the TrackTown USA 3K at the Lilac Grand Prix held at the Podium with a time of 8:03.34.

The main event of the evening was the men’s 3,000 metres, and not just because of Mwaura. 2016 Olympian Ben Blankenship and fellow Oregon Track Club racer Jake Heyward were also part of the initial six-man field. Brook’s Beasts runners David Ribich and Waleed Suliman rounded out the pros while Air Force’s Sam Gilman was the only middle schooler besides Mwaura. Every professional in the field has boasted of a career best in less than four minutes per mile.

The Tacoma native donned a white jersey with red Gonzaga lettering on the chest, contrasting the neon Brooks uniforms worn by Ribich and Heyward’s Oregon Track Club uniform. Mwaura received the loudest ovation of the night during his introduction, beating Engels as a fan favorite.

By race time the field had narrowed to Mwaura, Ribich, Heyward and leader Craig Nowak.

Regardless, Mwaura cleared the first 200 meters in just under 32 seconds as the five-man field quickly regrouped. Tyson cheered on his star pupil near the 60-yard mark on the track, fully aware of the stakes with Mwaura the only middle schooler.

Nowak cleared the mile mark in 4:11, a second slower than the winning boys’ high school mile time. With five laps to go, Ribich and Heyward started to build a small but noticeable 10m gap over Mwaura.

Heyward hit the gas with 600 remaining, running his last three 200m splits in 31 seconds, 29 seconds and 30 seconds as the Briton pulled away from Ribich and Mwaura who beat him for second place. Ribich eventually won this duel as Mwaura couldn’t muster a big enough kick to overtake him.

“It wasn’t the results I wanted, but it was a good learning experience,” Mwaura said. “Not every race will go to plan, that’s one of the lessons learned from racing. Overall it was an amazing experience and being able to compete here at home with the home crowd made it really memorable.

Heyward finished below the World Championship qualifying mark, winning the race in 7:48.83. Ribich ran 8:00.58 for second while Mwaura finished in 8:03.04 for third. Mwaura ran almost every 200 meters between 31 and 32 seconds, but couldn’t find a higher speed.

Mwaura’s time was well short of his season and school best record of 7:54.50 at the University of Washington preview less than two weeks ago. This time ranks 31st in the NCAA for indoors this season, while his efforts at the Lilac Grand Prix would not make the top-50.

“James was bold,” head coach Pat Tyson told gozags.com. “He went to the bottom of the pit running the first mile like a pro in 4:12! There will be time to be disappointed. It’s life; it’s sports! James will bounce back. It’s James Mwaura!

The women’s open mile featured the only other people competing for GU. The University of Idaho swept the top three spots with Katja Pattis crossing the line in 4:56 for the victory. Brittney Hansen was the first Zag to cross the line, running 4:58.77 for the fourth and fourth fastest times in school history.

Rosina Machu, a Zag competing without a tether, ran 5:02.62, edging out GU’s Kate Donaldson for fifth place. Donaldson’s time of 5:03.46 was the tenth fastest in program history. Makenna Edwards completed the field by finishing eighth. Each GU rider achieved a personal best time in the event.

Junior GU Yacine Guermali was supposed to compete in the men’s open mile, but pulled out of the event.

Mwaura was not the only star to compete on the podium as two world record attempts took place to close out the encounter. Donovan Brazier kicked off the competition trying to beat his own world record of 1:13.77. A professional runner for Nike, Brazier competed for Texas A&M before bursting onto the international running scene in 2019 as the world champion in the 800. Although he is a favorite to win the 800 at the 2021 Olympics, Brazier failed to qualify for the final in the event.

Representing the Nike Union Athletic Club, Brazier took on Isaiah Harris with the other two runners on the field acting as point guards. Brazier covered 200 meters in a blistering 22 seconds before setting up for a potential world record with a time of 48.4 in 400. Brazier and his effortless stride camp just shy of a world record, running 1 : 13.97 to miss his own record by two tenths of a second. Still, his time is the second-fastest time ever recorded over 600 meters indoors.

In the Surging for Serbia 1,500 meter race, nine men who eclipsed the four-minute mark on the mile crossed the line. The field came out in 56 seconds as Brannon Kidder acted like a bunny for the field. With 200 meters to go, Charlie Hunter made his move from the back of the peloton and passed Cameron Proceviat within five meters of the boards. Hunter finished in 3:41.34, missing the world championship standard.

Stryd’s women’s 5,000 meter race featured four women competing for Hoka Northern Arizone Elite, while Katie Izzo, Natalia Hawthorn and Regan Yee represented Adidas Golden Coast Track Club, Brooks Running and Under Armour, respectively.

Hawthorne and Kellyn Taylor led for much of the race, as Taylor put nearly 20 yards between her and Hawthorn with four laps to go. Nearly 20 meters separated each competitor as the peloton widened.

Taylor passed Regan Yee in the final 200 yards to claim first place in 15:21.54 for the 35-year-old as Hawthorn came second. Although there is no world championship standard for the 5k, if a woman runs a certain amount of time she is eligible to compete in the 3k at the world championships.

Three women gave up before the end of the race. Anna Connor and Stephanie Brown Brokaw retired after their pacing homework while Lauren Paquette ran sideways near the 7-minute mark.

In the men’s 800m, a mustachioed, mullet Craig Engels raced to the line to the delight of the podium crowd. After two failed starts, the Ole Miss graduate came in 200 seconds behind Josh Kerr. Both crossed 800 in a quick 51.0. Engels started to catch up but couldn’t beat Kerr as the Brook’s Beasts athlete held off Engels and achieved a world qualifying standard of 1:46.64 in the process.

The second world record attempt came at the end of the encounter as a relay team of Ella Donaghu, Raevyn Rogers, Sinclaire Johnson and Shannon Osika attempted to beat a set time of 10:40.31 five years ago by Sydney McLaughlin and Team USA in the distance medley relay.

The foursome got off to a perfect start as Donaghu gave the team a three-second lead on the world record pace on stage one. From there, the record seemed palpable as Rogers and Johnson did their homework before moving on to Osika.

Osika, who was racing against the clock, needed a 67-second 400 to seal the deal and etch her name in the record books. She barely did, crossing the line in 10:39.91, with less than four tenths of a second to spare. Uniquely, the world record team was made up of athletes who all trained under the same head coach, as opposed to national teams or “all-star” teams vying for the mark.

Less than a month after opening its doors, the Podium has already recorded a world record performance.

Up next for the Zags is the Whitworth Invitational on the podium and the Husky Classic in Seattle before the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 11 in Birmingham.

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