By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2024 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission. 

NOTE: This story was written remotely –Ed.

(16-Feb) — The two-day USATF Indoor Championships kicked off today in Albuquerque and all eyes were on Yared Nuguse of the On Athletics Club and Elle St. Pierre of New Balance Boston in the 3000m.  Both athletes emerged victorious and booked their places on Team USATF for the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow next month.

Nuguse, who ran a sizzling 3:47.83 to win the Wanamaker Mile in New York last Sunday, ran an intelligent race tonight.  He stayed close to the front but allowed Abdi Nur (Nike) to set the pace in the middle section of the race.  Nur got into the lead at about 1300 meters, then towed the field for the next five laps, holding the pace steady at just below 32 seconds per lap.

The big move came with about 500 meters left when Olin Hacker of HOKA Northern Arizona Elite surged on the backstretch and took the lead from Nur.  Hacker had slowed the pace to 29.7 seconds, and Nuguse quickly reacted.  Nur was still there, as were Dillon Maggard (Brooks Beasts) and Morgan Beadlescomb (Adidas).

On the penultimate lap, Nuguse surged to the front, and Hacker tried to cover the move, but the former Notre Dame star ran his last two laps in 28.3 and 26.1, which was too hot for Hacker.  Nuguse won in 7:55.76, clinching his team spot and first national 3000m indoor title.

Yared Nuguse takes the 3000 meters, photo by Randy Miyazaki for Race Results Weekly, used with permission.

“Yared executed to plan,” said his On Athletics Club coach, Dathan Ritzenhein, in a text message.  “With the short turnaround from Millrose, only four easy days between, we kept it simple: stay out of trouble, wait until the last couple of laps, get the lead, and use the speed.  It’s good to finish this one so he can focus on Glasgow now.”

Hacker was a clear second in 7:56.22, holding off a strong charge from Beadlescomb, who had to settle for third in 7:56.70. Hacker does not have the World Indoor Championships standard, so he will have to see if he can gain entry to the meet under the World Athletics points system.

The women’s race had a painfully slow start –just 79 seconds for the first 400m– and St. Pierre could be seen looking at her competitors in near disbelief.  She didn’t speed up immediately but waited to move to the lead at 800 meters.  After that, she was never seriously challenged.  She won her second national 3000m indoor title in 8:54.40, and since she has the World Athletics Indoor Championships qualifying standard of 8:37.00 in hand, she also sealed her team berth.

St. Pierre, 28, who won the silver medal in the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, just tried to play it safe today.  She was confident of her fitness after winning the Wanamaker Mile for Women at the Millrose Games last Sunday in a world-leading 4:16.41, and she just tried to avoid mistakes.

“She didn’t want to lead just five days after Millrose, but we decided beforehand if they were jogging, she’d just make it honest enough that she’d be OK,” explained her coach, Mark Coogan, in a text message.  “Elle said it’s tough to race at altitude.”

Josette Andrews of the On Athletics Club won second in 9:03.10 over Katie Wasserman of HOKA Northern Arizona Elite (9:06.99).  But Andrews was only awarded a provisional team berth because she doesn’t have the standard.  In fact, only Elly Henes –who finished sixth in 9:12.25– has the standard among athletes who competed in Albuquerque today.  Andrews has to see if she can move up far enough in the World Athletics points system to qualify for a spot.

Also, today, the first round of the men’s and women’s 800m was contested, and all of the favorites advanced to tomorrow’s final.  On the women’s side, Addy Wiley (adidas) ran the fastest time, 2:01.29, in the second of three heats.  She had reigning Millrose 800m champion Allie Wilson right on her heels, who advanced on time in 2:01.64.  Nia Akins of the Brooks Beasts Track Club won the third heat, besides losing her left shoe early in the race.  She maintained her composure and clocked 2:02.53.

“Ugh, stressful,” quipped her coach Danny Mackey in a text message.

Sammy Watson (adidas), Angel Piccirillo (Puma Elite Running), and Olivia Baker (Atlanta Track Club Elite) were the other three qualifiers.

On the men’s side, the only two athletes with the Glasgow qualifying standard of 1:46.00, Isaiah Harris representing the Brooks Beasts and Bryce Hoppel representing adidas, both advanced to the final.  Hoppel won the first heat 1:48.57, holding off a fast-closing Matt Wisner (1:48.63).  Harris won the second heat in 1:46.97 but got a good fight from Josh Hoey (adidas), who ran 1:47.04 and also advanced.  The other qualifiers were Vincent Crisp (1:47.04), Abe Alvarado (1:47.17), and Shane Streich (1:48.15).  Brandon Miller of the Brooks Beasts, who ran a sizzling 1:14.03 for 600m a week ago, did not start.
The 2024 USATF Indoor Championships continue tomorrow and will feature the finals of the men’s and women’s 800m and 1500m.