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The Top Pre Classic Moments - 2000s

In honor of the 40th running of the Prefontaine Classic, a panel of track and field aficionados generated a ranking of the Top 40 Moments in Pre Classic history. The Top 40 Moments are more than a collection of the best athletes to compete at the Pre Classic; these moments are about competition, breaking historical records, and excitement! These are the moments that we remember as the best of the Pre Classic in its first 40 years.

The Top 40 Moments will be available in the 2014 Pre Classic program (and listed in full on PreClassic.com after the meet). Below are all the nominated moments from which the Top 40 were selected, in chronological order.

Top Pre Classic Moments - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s - 2000s - 2010s - Top 40 All-time

The Top Pre Classic Moments - 2000s 
(in chronological order)


2000 Men’s 400 – Michael Johnson blasted a world-class field by nearly a second to produce the meet’s first sub-44 at 43.92.  He became the first man or woman to own meet records in the 200 and 400 (he set the 200 MR in 1995 at 20.15).


2000 Men’s Shot – C.J. Hunter became the first to top the 70-foot barrier at the Pre Classic, winning with a best of 70-1¾ (21.38).


2000 Women’s 1500 – Gabriela Szabo and Suzy Hamilton were clearly the class of the field.  At the bell, Hamilton and Szabo had broken away from the pack.  With 300 meters to go Hamilton put on a strong move that opened up a huge 15 meter gap on Szabo by the end of the backstretch.  But, as longtime Pre Classic PA announcer Scott Davis boomed out, “Gabriela Szabo hasn't lost a race in two years!”, Szabo started her kick, and began to close on Hamilton.  Into the homestraight, Szabo had gained a few meters, but it was still Hamilton’s race.  Szabo kept driving and driving.  In the very last meter, Szabo edged ahead; both chopped more than five seconds off the meet record.  The result was an almost sub-4, Szabo edging Hamilton by 0.06 in 4:00.73.  For Szabo, it kept alive her 2-year winning streak; for Hamilton, who stumbled and fell at the finish, her time was the fourth-fastest ever by an American not named Slaney.


2001 Men’s Mile – Hicham El Guerrouj crushed a world-class field by almost 2 seconds in becoming the first-ever to run sub-3:50 outdoors in the U.S. (3:49.92), but it was 18-year-old Alan Webb who drew even more attention in 5th place.  Webb finished in 3:53.43 to shatter the national High School Record set by legendary Jim Ryun 36 years earlier.


2001 Women’s High Jump – Amy Acuff added an inch to Debbie Brill’s 19-year-old meet record, clearing 6-6 (1.98).


2002 Men’s Shot – Kevin Toth exploded for three PRs, and he needed every one of them to top a field that produced the first meet anywhere with two Americans over 72 feet.  Toth’s best of 72-9¾ (22.19) was the fifth meet record set in the event that day.  Each time he surpassed Adam Nelson, who set two meet records and finished with a best of 72-0¼ (21.95).  In third was former two-time winner John Godina at 71-10¾ (21.91), also well above the previous meet record.


2002 Women’s 100m Hurdles – Gail Devers produced the fastest performance of her career to dominate a loaded field, running a wind-aided 12.29.  Six others would break 13 seconds, led by Miesha McKelvy (12.51w).


2002 Women’s 3000 – Marla Runyan raced to 8:39.36, defeating meet record holder Sonia O’Sullivan, but just 0.03 seconds shy of O’Sullivan’s meet record.


2003 Men’s Mile – Bernard Lagat sustained an aggressive pace to challenge the then-meet record of 3:49.92.  While his 3:50.21 was 0.29 seconds short, his winning margin of 3.13 bettered the meet best of 2.48 seconds set by Steve Scott 19 years earlier.  Lagat’s opening lap 440 of 56.8 would be his fastest, but all four were 58.4 or quicker.


2003 Men’s 5000 – Abraham Chebii defended his title in impressive fashion, clocking 13:08.10 to miss the meet record by a mere 0.27 seconds.  His last lap of 52.2 equaled the fastest ever in a sub-13:10 race, and he won by over three seconds.


2003 Women’s 400 – Ana Guevara became the first woman to break the 50-second barrier in meet history, and did so in destructive fashion.  Guevara ran 49.34 to win by over a second.  Guevara would later win World Championships gold in Edmonton, and among the vanquished were 2000 Olympic gold medalist Cathy Freeman and 2004 gold medalist-to-be Tonique Williams.


2003 Women’s 100m Hurdles – Brigitte Foster edged Miesha McKelvy as both broke the meet record, 12.45 to 12.51.  McKelvy became the second-fastest American behind Gail Devers, who led this race at the halfway point before fading to last.


2004 Men’s 100 – Shawn Crawford ran the first wind-legal sub-10 100 in Pre Classic history, beating Maurice Greene (9.93) and John Capel (9.95).  Crawford’s 9.88, the fastest 100 run by an American on US soil, made him the 12th fastest man in history.


2004 Men’s Mile – Alan Webb ran his fastest race since smashing the High School Record in 2001.  This time he was first to finish, and by whopping a 2.66 seconds in 3:50.85, the fastest ever by an American in America.


2004 Men’s Hammer – Koji Murofushi twice broke the meet record in becoming the meet’s first 270-footer at 271-2 (82.65).


2004 Women’s 100 – Inger Miller flashed an impressive 11.05, and it was just inches better than Gail Devers (11.05) and Chryste Gaines (11.06).


2005 Men’s 100 – Justin Gatlin and Jamaica’s Asafa Powell waged the closest battle in meet history, and Gatlin outleaned Powell, both clocking a wind-aided 9.84.  Leonard Scott (9.94w) and defending champ Shawn Crawford (9.98w) also broke the 10-second mark.


2005 Men’s 110m Hurdles – Liu Xiang of China made his debut on U.S. soil, but unfortunately it came as Allen Johnson watched on the sidelines after false starting.  Liu lowered the meet record to 13.06,


2005 Men’s 400m Hurdles – Bershawn Jackson (47.91) and James Carter (47.95) became the meet’s first sub-48 runners, both breaking the meet record of 48.12.


2006 Men’s 100 – Co-world record holders at 9.77, Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell ran the two fastest times of the day, but unfortunately they ran in separate races due to situations beyond meet control.  Both won easily, Gatlin equaling the meet record in race 1 at 9.88, while Powell the next race in a wind-aided 9.93.


2006 Men’s Triple Jump – Walter Davis twice broke the meet record, the final time at 57-1 (17.40) on his last attempt.  His second attempt 56-7 ¼ (17.25) set a meet record, but Nathan Douglas inched ahead in round six at 56-7 ½ (17.26).  In response, Davis unleashed his 57-1 final effort.


2007 Men’s 800 – Nick Symmonds not only broke an 11-year-old meet record, he also held off Russia’s great finisher, Yuriy Borzakovskiy, 1:44:54 to 1:44.71.


2007 Men’s Mile – Daniel K. Komen sizzled a 55.8 last 440 to chop 1.64 seconds off the meet record and become the outright fastest-ever miler on U.S. soil (3:48.28).  Bernard Lagat was the closest finisher at 3:50.56.


2007 Men’s 3000m Steeplechase – Paul K. Koech showed why he was the world’s most dominant steepler, demolishing the 26-year-old meet record by over 10 seconds and the field by over 13 seconds, winning with a time of 8:08.08.


2007 Men's 2-Mile – Australian Craig Mottram wins in the 6th fastest time in history, 8:03.50, the fastest time of the new millennium.  Matt Tegenkamp sets the AR in 3rd (8:07.07).


2007 Women’s 1500 – Gelete Burka used a 62.9 last lap to win by over two seconds and lower the meet record to 4:00.48.


2008 Men’s 800 – Alfred Kirwa Yego’s 1:44.01 broke a record older than the Pre Classic itself – the Hayward Field mark of Dave Wottle (1:44.3 =WR at the 1972 Olympic Trials).


2008 Men’s 10K – Kenenisa Bekele produced the first sub-27 on U.S. soil with an amazing 26:25.97 that was the world’s 4th-best ever.  It still is.


2008 Men’s Pole Vault – Brad Walker soared over the meet’s first 6-meter jump at 19-9¾ (6.04), bettering the prior meet best by legendary Sergey Bubka 14 years earlier.  He excitedly noted the crowd was “mind-blowing” at how loud it got.


2008 Women’s 5000 – Meseret Defar won by almost 20 seconds in 14:38.73, almost 30 seconds better than Mary Slaney’s 1985 meet record.


2009 Men’s 300 – LaShawn Merritt shaved 0.01 off his own meet record, which doubled as the best ever in the world at low altitude and second fastest at any altitude.


2009 Men’s Mile – Asbel Kiprop followed an aggressive pace that passed the halfway mark at 1:52.9.  Only 19 then, he nearly broke the meet record despite easing up to acknowledge the crowd’s cheering.  He ended up bettering fellow Kenyan Haron Keitany, 3:48.50 to 3:48.78.


2009 Men’s Long Jump – Two Olympic Champions jumping at their best provided long jumping fireworks.  2004 Champ Dwight Phillips outdueled 2008 Champ Irving Saladino out beyond 28 feet.  Each provided a pair of wind-legal 28-footers and scared 29 feet, even if by a long foul.  Phillips claimed victory at 28-8¼ (8.74), his best ever.  Saladino finished with a best of 28-3¾ (8.63), his 2nd best of all-time.


2009 Women’s 1500 – With a sold-out crowd roaring, Gelete Burka held off Jenny Simpson (then known as Barringer) by the closest of margins, 3:59.89 to 3:59.90.  They became the meet’s first sub-4 racers, and Simpson set a collegiate record as a student at Colorado.

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