Fast times at Payton Jordan for OTC Elite

Oregon Track Club Elite's Hassan Mead in the 5,000 meters

Three personal bests and a triumphant return to the track were all highlights of a phenomenal season-opening performance by several Oregon Track Club Elite athletes at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford last Sunday.

Olympic silver medalist Sally Kipyego, who missed the entire 2013 season with a broken foot, set the

Sally Kipyego wins 10,000m at Payton Jordan Invite

Sally Kipyego wins 10,000m at Payton Jordan. Photo by Phil Johnson

pace with a meet record in the women’s 10,000 meters. The native of Kenya led for 21 of the 25 laps and finished with a winning time of 30 minutes, 42.26 seconds in her season debut on the track.

Oregon Track Club Elite’s Sally Kipyego easily won the 10,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational last Sunday. It was Kipyego’s first 10,000 since setting her personal best of 30:26.37 at the 2012 London Olympics.

With a stacked field, the men’s 5,000 meters generated the most pre-race attention.

And it didn’t disappoint.

In the end, it was OTC Elite’s Hassan Mead swinging wide on the final turn and surging into the lead, but the former Minnesota all-American was caught at the tape by Ben True, who edged Mead by six-hundredths of a second – 13:02.74 to 13:02.80.

Hassan Mead in 5,000m at Payton Jordan

Hassan Mead in 5,000m at 2014 Payton Jordan Invite. Photo by Phil Johnson

It was a huge nine-second PR for Mead, who clocked his previous best of 13:11.80 in Belgium last summer. With his performance, Mead climbs to No. 10 on the all-time 5,000-meter list in the U.S., right behind True at No. 9.

“Good showing,” OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said of Mead’s outdoor season-opener in the 5,000. “But there’s still work to be done … the best is yet to come.”

OTC Elite also picked up two PRs in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Aisha Praught, a 2012 graduate of Illinois State, and a finalist at the USA Track & Field Championships last summer, placed second in her heat with a time of 9:42.08. Praught ran her previous best of 9:50.06 at the Portland Track Festival last year.

In addition, Lauren Johnson, out of Huntington University (Ind.), placed third in her heat at 10:00.79, nearly four seconds faster than her old PR of 10:04.49.

TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna attended the meet which he first envisioned and developed during his 11-year tenure as Stanford’s director of track and field. Under his guidance, the meet quickly gained a global reputation for fast performances in the middle distance and distances due to world-class fields, pacesetters and ideal weather conditions.

On Sunday, Lananna came away impressed with coach Rowland and the OTC Elite performances.

“Mark Rowland has demonstrated that he is a world-class coach from 800 meters through 10,000 meters,” Lananna said.

Elsewhere at the meet, OTC Elite’s Harun Abda and Aaron Evans placed second and third, respectively, in the 800 at 1:46.62 and 1:47.15. Dan Quigley was 13th in section two of the 5,000 at 13:49.78.

On the women’s side, Shannon Leinert just missed a PR by winning her heat of the 800 at 2:02.20, which was the third-best time overall. Former UO star Anne Kesselring was third in her heat of the 1,500 at 4:14.47, while Greta Feldman took 10th in 4:17.14. Jemma Simpson placedth in the fast heat of the 1,500 at 4:16.60.