Star Performances Highlight The 2009 Prefontaine Classic

June 8, 2009

The 2009 Prefontaine Classic featured an extraordinary amount of talent Sunday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, as no less than thirty-four Olympic medalists competed in the 35th annual event.

With such an abundance of talent at this year's meet, track and field fans were anticipating numerous world-class performances from the assembled athletes. Fortunately, the stars successfully met those high expectations, as they competed with a passion that would have made the late, great Steve Prefontaine proud.

One such star was American long jumper Dwight Phillips, who leaped an impressive 28 feet, 8.25 inches, on his way to winning the event. Phillips' jump was the fifth longest in history, and the best in the world since the memorable Mike Powell-Carl Lewis duel at the 1991 World Championships in Japan.

For his efforts, Phillips was named the Athlete of the Meet.

Meanwhile, in the Men's 100m, Mike Rodgers posted his second consecutive victory on the circuit, as he led virtually from start to finish, and won in a time of 9.94 seconds. It was Rodgers' first sub-10 performance of his career, and further solidified his status as someone to watch at the upcoming U.S. Championships later this month.

Olympians Asafa Powell of Jamaica, and Walter Dix of the U.S., placed second and third respectively. Both men finished in 10.07 seconds.

In the Women's 100m, Carmelita Jeter continued her undefeated season with a come-from-behind victory against a loaded field. Jeter closed strongly in the final 40 meters, winning the race in a wind-aided 10.85 seconds. Based on her current hot streak, Jeter probably should be considered the current favorite to win this event in the Berlin World Championships.

Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser of Jamaica finished in fourth place.

Here are the results and recaps of some other selected events:

Men's 300m

LaShawn Merritt continued his dominant season by winning at an unusual distance with another strong performance. Merritt led from start to finish, running the second-fastest 300m time in history at 31.30 seconds. Xavier Carter finished a distant second with a time of 31.93.

Men's 400m Hurdles

In another race that featured a loaded field, Olympic bronze medalist Bershawn Jackson overcame a rough initial 100 meters to win the Men's 400m hurdles. Jackson started off very well, but hit the second hurdle, causing him to lose much of his early momentum. However, in the final 50 meters Jackson outkicked the silver (Kerron Clement) and gold (Angelo Taylor) medalists in Beijing, winning in a time of 48.38 seconds.

Men's 800m

Local resident Nick Symmonds won for the second consecutive year at Prefontaine, much to the delight of the Hayward Field crowd. With about 250 meters left, Symmonds made his move rather early and never looked back, finishing in 1:45.86.

Men's 3000m

American Bernard Lagat prevailed in a dueling bell lap with Saif Shaheen of Qatar to win in a time of 7:35.92. With 300 meters left Lagat made his move, sprinting to the front of the pack. Shaheen countered immediately thereafter, and took the lead away from Lagat entering the final 100 meters. However, Lagat turned on the jets with a great kick to win a thriller at the finish.

Men's 3000m Steeplechase

Paul Koech of Kenya dominated the field to win in a time of 8:13.43.

Men's Bowerman Mile

Asbel Kiprop of Kenya pulled away from fellow Kenyan Heron Keitany in the final 100 meters to win in 3:48.50, the fastest time this year. Collectively, this race may have produced more top-notch performances than any other event, as 13 of the runners ran under the 4 minute mark.

Women's 400m

Sanya Richards got off to an excellent start and then closed strongly, as she dominated the 400m with a winning time of 49.85 seconds. Shericka Williams of Jamaica placed second with a time of 50.72 seconds.

Women's 100m Hurdles

Michelle Perry narrowly defeated Damu Cherry in a photo finish, as both women ran in 12.74 seconds. Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper hit her first two hurdles and fell onto the track, failing to complete the race.

Women's 1500m

Ethiopia's Gelete Burka led for the majority of the race, but then had to hold off a late-charging Jenny Barringer to win in an exciting photo finish. Despite finishing second, Barringer reacted with enthusiastic surprise at her time of 3:59.90, since it constituted a new collegiate record for the student from the University of Colorado. Burka finished in 3:59.89.

Women's 800m

In an upset that surprised even the winner herself, Maggie Vessey defeated several big names in the Women's 800m. Vessey finished the race in 2:00.18.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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