Future and Current Stars Shine at 2002 Millrose Games

BY GARY FANELLI

MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NYC--This road runner would like to report on the Verizon Millrose Games track and field meet held February 1. This runner feels this is important because so many of these track people filter out into our roadrunning sport, and sometimes, with exceptional results.

Take 1: The Mile Races

Let this runner begin with the races which help our champions of the future get their start. The Women's High School Mile was a star-studded field of our top preps. Some runners came from as far away as Arizona and California for this very prestigious and serious race. Melissa Donais, from Phillips HS, Andover, MA, led this race from start to finish, recording the fastest indoor mile of the year in the U.S. Donais ran 4:53.90. Liz Gesel, of Central HS, New Hampshire, was second in 4:57.80. Third went to Meghan Owen, of Killingly HS, CT, in 4:59:10. In all, five runners ran the mile in under 5:00.

On the boys' side of the Millrose Invitational HS Mile, the lead changed hands about eight times before the race was done. Andrew Keino, a junior at Fork Union, and son of Olympic great Kip Keino, of Kenya, provided excitement with his presence as he took the lead at one point during the race. In the end, the lucky winner was Chris Lukezic, of Auburn HS, Washington State. I say lucky as it was a very close race, and he ran one intelligent race making the right moves at the right time. He won in 4:21:14. Alex Tatu, of Thomasdale HS, was second in 4:21:50. Third went to Brian Dalpiaz, of Sayville HS, Virginia, in 4:22:41. Andrew Keino finished out of the top five. The top five runners all ran under 4:24. Good times for running on an 11-lap-to-the-mile banked track.

The invitational Open Mile races were a real treat to see. In the Women's Invitational, 38-year-old super-track runner, Olympian, and American record holder, Regina Jacobs treated the spectators to a fabulous race as she easily defended her Mile title. Regina won convincingly with her great kick in 4:34:60 over second place Lyudmila Vasileyeva, who ran 4:35:31. Third went to Mary Jane Harrelson, who ran 4:36:20. Look out for Mary Jane to become one of the fastest rising stars in the U.S. You read it here first in Runners Gazette.

This road runner would like to report he got a big thrill from watching the Men's Mile as it was one of the best one-mile races ever run at Madison Square Garden. The top three Kenyan runners were in the field and after the designated rabbit towed the field through the 800m in a toiling 1:58, the real race began. In the field was the world's second fastest miler ever, Bernard Lagat. He had won this race last year and was looking to defend his title for the Wanamaker Mile. Leading with one lap to go, Lagat had the two other Kenyans right behind him. One of those other Kenyans in hot pursuit was 1:43, 800m runner Laban Rotich. Coming off the next to the last turn, Rotich struck with a classic move and surged to the lead, kicking at full speed. Lagat tried to catch Rotich but it was no use against such a fast kicker. Rotich won the event for the second time (1998). His time was 3:57:04. Lagat ran 3:57:36. Leonard Mucheru, of Kenya, was third in 3:57:68.

Take 2: The 3000m Race

The Millrose 3000m was a good race, but not a fast race. The competition was keen. Four-minute miler Brian Clas outlasted the field and won convincingly in 8:33:10 over David Slavinski in 8:36:79. In third was Sean Mick, of Haddonfield, NJ, a well-known road racer who ran the distance in 8:37:11.