BOSTON (Feb. 7) – A sold out crowd of 4,265 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center was treated to quite a spectacle at the 14th annual Reebok Boston Indoor Games that included the two highest pole vault clearances indoors by a man and woman on American soil, six world leading marks and two American records.
The outstanding pole vault performances were made possible in part by the elevated Mondo runway meet organizers arranged to have shipped in from last week’s Millrose Games in New York. Jenn Stuczynski wasted little time in starting the evening off by breaking Stacy Dragila’s American record with a clearance of 15-9.75 (4.82m) and taking home a $25,000 award. Using the elevated runway to her advantage she cleared her first three heights on her opening attempts, but just missed the world record height of 16-3.25. Stuczynski now sits at No. 3 on the all-time list.
“Having the runway, it brought a different outlook to the Boston Games,” Stuczynski said. “I’ve competed here before and then bringing the runway added a little bit of magic to it. It was nice to be up on that platform. It felt like the pole vault was highlighted.
“I think it was a relief (getting the record). It’s a mental game you play with yourself. I’ve tried this so many times and now I want to make it today. I tried to stay focused on it and go with the routine jumps.”
The men’s pole vault was just as exciting as Australian Olympic gold medalist, Steve Hooker, made three attempts at the world record of 20-2.0 (6.15m) to close out the meet. He narrowly missed clearing the bar on his final try and came away with a winning mark of 19-10.5 (6.06m). His performance earned him the Australian national record and put him a No. 2 on the all-time list.
“The first attempt I ran through, the second attempt I didn't clear,” Hooker said. “On the third attempt, I cleared it with my hips, but came down with my chest and arms. You have to get everything over unfortunately.
“I want to keep jumping PBs. I'm most happy that I was able to come out and perform well again. Up until tonight I wasn't the record holder for my country. To break the national record was my main goal.”
While Hooker was on the runway the crowd was also cheering on hometown favorite Shalane Flanagan in the 5,000 meters. The 10,000-meter Olympic bronze medalist didn’t disappoint as she staged a thrilling race against Ethiopian Sentanyahu Ejigu. The two separated themselves from the rest of the pack early on in the first 1,000 meters with a 2:57.9 split. At 2,000 meters they were clocked at 5:56.1 and at the 3,000-meter mark they turned in an 8:55.7.
With Ejigu remaining on her heels at 4,000 meters they registered 11:54.1. Coming around the final turn Ejigu started to make her move and in the final straightaway edged Flanagan by only five thousandths of second. Ejigu’s winning time was 14:47.613, while Flanagan earned the American record and a $25,000 bonus with a 14:47.618. Flanagan now owns four American records, including the indoor 3,000 meters, the outdoor 5,000 meters and the outdoor 10,000 meters.
“I feel like I came out really strong, I feel really great,” Flanagan said. “I thought I had it. I thought maybe they'd give the win to the "hometown girl," but I was so close. There were great ladies in the race, a great pace setter. If I'd been out there by myself, it would've been hard. To have someone right on me, it was a great motivator. There's no better motivation than to run in front of the hometown crowd. It takes more than one person to set a record.”
A pair of University of Michigan alums dominated the mile races. Lindsey Gallo upset Ethiopian Mestawot Tadesse and Australian Sarah Jamieson as she crossed the line in a meet record and world-leading time of 4:27.90. Tadesse finished second in 4:28.18 and Jamieson was third in 4:29.47.
The men’s race was highly anticipated with a talented field of runners, including Olympic bronze medalist Nick Willis, Alan Webb and other sub-4:00 milers. The group was paced by Adam Perkins and recorded splits of 57.6 and 1:56.6. After 1,000 meters Perkins stepped off the track and Mexico’s Pablo Solares took the lead as Webb faded and Willis and Chris Lukezic ran second and third, respectively.
At the bell lap Willis sped down the backstretch and came away with the victory and a world leading time of 3:53.54. Solares earned runner-up honors with a 3:54.52 and Lukezic finished third in 3:56.04.
The women’s 3,000 meters was the Kara Goucher show as she ran her final race indoors race this season before focusing exclusively on training for the Boston Marathon in April. She powered around the track in a world-leading time of 8:46.65, while Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego was close behind with a college best performance of 8:48.77.
In the girls’ high school mile Ontario, Canada’s Jessica Party was the clear winner and enjoyed a convincing victory with a time of 4:51.62. In comparison the boys’ high school mile was a close one. Mac Fleet, from University City, Calif., came from nowhere after the last turn and took the tape with a solid time of 4:09.06.