NEW YORK (29-Jan) -- With a snowstorm raging outside, Ollie Hoare of the Boulder-based On Athletics Club (OAC) unleashed his own fury in the WHOOP Wanamaker Mile at the 114th Millrose Games at The Armory, winning the meet's signature event in an Australian indoor record and world leading time of 3:50.83. Hoare, who celebrated his 25th birthday today, was one of just three OAC athletes who won their events in the first edition of these games in nearly two years. One year ago, when the pandemic reached its pre-Omicron height of cases, The Armory was used as a mass vaccination center. This afternoon it was packed with fans, instead, who witnessed the second Gold level meeting of the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Tour.
PHOTO: Geordie Beamish wins the 3000m at the 2022 Millrose Games ahead of Cooper Teare (center) and Cole Hocker (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
Hoare, who ran for the University of Wisconsin, rekindled his NCAA rivalry with Scotsman Josh Kerr (University of New Mexico) of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts Track Club. The two had both competed in the Tokyo Olympic 1500m final last August where Kerr won the bronze medal and Hoare finished 11th. Despite the strong 13-man field assembled by meeting director Ray Flynn, the two men knew that they would likely be the top contenders for the title.
"Going into this race I was extremely confident that I could run fast, to go with a hot pace," Hoare told the media. "Josh Kerr, bronze medalist in the Olympics, amazing engine and [is] someone you really want to race with." He continued: "We had our little back and forths since college so it's great to have him out at the Wanamaker Mile, race him and compete at a fast race."
Off of a halfway split of 1:54.6 by pacemaker Erik Sowinski, Hoare took over the lead after Sowinski dropped out with three laps to go. Kerr was right behind Hoare and the Americans Craig Engels and Colby Alexander remained close. With about a lap and a half to go, Kerr moved up and passed Hoare on the backstretch. It was a strong pass, but Hoare didn't panic and stayed composed. Kerr was the leader at the bell.
"I told myself that I would be aggressive and push and I knew a move was going to present itself," Kerr explained after the race. "And I may have pushed the move a little bit too early."
Hoare stayed on Kerr's heels, gathered himself, then pushed past his rival at the top of the backstretch. He expanded his lead out of the bend leaving Kerr to be satisfied with second place and a new Scottish indoor record of 3:52.27. Hoare became the first-ever Australian to win the Wanamaker Mile which has been held since 1926.
"When Josh passed me I was actually quite surprised," Hoare admitted. He continued: "I was pretty relaxed and I was confident I could go again."
A resurgent Colby Alexander finished third in a personal best 3:52.84, followed by Sam Prakel (3:55.73) and Johnny Gregorek (3:55.93). Back in ninth place, two-time Olympic medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand ran 3:59.71 and became the first man in history to run a sub four-minute mile for 20 consecutive calendar years.
"I knew it was going to be close," the 38 year-old Willis told reporters. When asked how he felt he said: "Relief, (with) a little bit of disappointment."
OAC athletes also prevailed in the 3000m races. On the women's side, Olympian Alicia Monson took the lead with eight laps to go in the 15-lap race and never relinquished it. USA 5-kilometer road running champion Weini Kelati ran in Monson's slipstream lap after lap, but never attempted a pass. Indeed, with a lap remaining Monson put two steps on Kelati and beat the former Eritrean 8:31.62 to 8:33.72. Monson's time was a world leader, meeting and facility record, and a personal best. She was confident about her training under coach Dathan Ritzenhein coming into today's meet.
PHOTO: Alicia Monson wins the 3000m at the 2022 Millrose Games (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"We've been doing some sea level training in Florida just because it's a little warmer there," Monson explained. "A lot of us are kind of stepping down in distance for indoors; better to get that speed in at sea level."
Mexico's Laura Galvan set a national indoor record in third place (8:42.29), and Brigham Young University's Courtney Wayment ran an NCAA-leading 8:50.05 in sixth place.
The OAC's Geordie Beamish won the men's 3000m, slipping past former University of Oregon teammates Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker on the inside and setting a New Zealand national indoor record of 7:39.50. Teare and Hocker, who were making their professional debuts representing Nike, finished second and third, respectively, in personal bests of 7:39.61 and 7:39.83.
Beamish ran near the front for the first two-thirds of the race, but when former University of Northern Arizona star Luis Grijalva of Guatemala surged with two laps to go, Beamish had to play catch-up. He ran his penultimate lap in 28.1 seconds to keep it close, then closed with blistering 25.8-second final circuit, passing both Hocker and Teare in the homestretch.
"I had a couple of good last laps," Beamish said, looking slightly surprised that he had won. On his last trip here for the Fifth Avenue Mile last September he got food poisoning and never even started the race. "Right when I made a move at 200, 180 to go I saw those two guys battling each other, and I knew it was a good chance it was going to come down to those two." He continued: "I had a feeling that if I stuck to the inside it would open up like that."
Grijalva didn't go home empty-handed. He hung on for fourth place and set a Guatemalan indoor record of 7:41.21.
In the women's WHOOP Wanamaker Mile the hoped-for fireworks between defending champion Elle Purrier St. Pierre and Olympic 800m gold medalist Athing Mu never materialized. Mu, 19, was in fifth place through 1300m and was on a 4:23 mile pace, but she abruptly slowed and dropped out. She did not speak with the media.
Purrier St. Pierre, who was raised on a dairy farm in Vermont and represents New Balance, never saw the Nike-sponsored Mu during the race. She loosely followed the pacemaker Charlene Lipsey for the first half while German Konstanze Klosterhalfen, Australian Jessica Hull, and Americans Josette Norris and Sage Hurta kept Purrier St. Pierre in their sights. But with a one and a half laps to go, Purrier upped her tempo, and with a lap to go already had a three-meter gap on Norris and Klosterhalfen, her closest chasers. A final quarter of 63.7 seconds gave Purrier St. Pierre a solid win over Norris, 4:19.30 to 4:20.81. Klosterhalfen, who was the runner-up last year, got third in 4:22.59. Hull, Klosterhalfen's Nike Union Track Club teammate, set an Australian indoor record in fourth: 4:24.06.
"Two in a row," said Purrier St. Pierre with a big smile. "Obviously, the last time I raced here (when she set the USA indoor record of 4:16.85) set the bar pretty high. So, coming back from that was going to be pretty hard to top, but I went in it with confidence and just believed in all the training I did over the years."
Norris was thrilled to lower her indoor personal best by nearly 11 seconds, and even run faster than her outdoor best by almost two seconds.
"I feel really good about it," said Norris who runs for the Reebok Boston Track Club in Charlottesville, Va. "To come out in January and run a personal best, there's not much more I could ask for. I gave it my best shot."
The 800m races went mostly to form. In the women's race Ajee' Wilson successfully defended her title from 2020 with a controlled effort, clocking 2:01.38. Bryce Hoppel won the men's four-lap race by chasing down defending champion Michael Saruni of Kenya in the last 100 meters to win in 1:46.05 to Saruni's 1:46.32.
"I just kind of judged it off of Saruni because he took it over," said Hoppel who represents adidas. "I was like, he can have it. I was just staying on his shoulder then I was going to give it what I had at the end."
Wilson, who also ran in the first edition of the Millrose Games held at the Armory ten years ago, took a patient approach. The 27 year-old hadn't raced since last August and was feeling a little rusty.
"I was kind of nervous," she said. She added: "I think it was maintaining, stay strong, and be ready for any surges."
PHOTO: Oliver Hoare holds the winner's trophy for the Wanamaker Mile after running an Australian indoor record of 3:50.83 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
Two high school girls ran in the elite 800m race, Roisin Willis of Stevens Point, Wisc., and Sophia Gorriaran of Providence R.I. They finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively, in 2:03.28 and 2:03.66.
Donavan Brazier, the 2019 world 800m champion who failed to make last year's Olympic Games, stepped down to the 400m today, and put in a great performance. Finishing a close third to Jamaica's Christopher Taylor, Brazier ran an absolute personal best of 46.55 and said he felt great.
"It felt good to be back out there," Brazier said, clearly pleased. "I still have a little bit of, I guess, of nostalgia running the Olympic Trials last year since that was my last race. So, the key behind the 400 today was to kind of attack it and kind of get over that last race I had beforehand."
In the Michael Blum Men's Mile, essentially the "B" section of the Wanamaker, the Atlanta Track Club Elite's Shane Streich got the win in a personal best 3:57.98, out-sprinting Irishman Luke McCann (3:58.21). Collegians Dan Schaffer of Binghamton University (3:59.31) and Cameron Ponder of Furman University (3:59.48) also broke four minutes. Streich is an 800m runner who made it to the semi-finals of last June's USA Olympic Trials. He said that the half-mile was still his primary distance.
"My 800 is still my strongest suit right now, but I'm just kind of coming into my own in the 1500 and mile," said Streich. "Only my second sub-4:00 ever."
The boys' and girls' high school miles went to form. Gavin Sherry of Conard High School in West Hartford, Conn., won the boys race easily in a meet record 4:06.58 (he had run 4:06.72 at The Armory on January 8). The girls' title went to 2021 USA Olympic Trials 800m qualifier Juliette Whittaker of Mount DeSales Academy in Catonsville, Md., in 4:47.14. Riley Stewart of Greenwood Village, Colo., finished a strong second in 4:47.22.
Today's meet marked the tenth edition of the Millrose Games to be held at The Armory. The meet was moved from Madison Square Garden in 2012 by the late Armory president and founder Dr. Norbert Sander who acquired the rights to the Games from the Millrose Athletic Association. Sander died suddenly in 2017 at the age of 74. A painting of him hangs in The Armory's media room.