• Curtis Anderson

Blankenship, Green set PRs at Pre Classic

EUGENE, Ore. - For Oregon Track Club Elite's Ben Blankenship and Hanna Green, it was "mission accomplished" at the 45th annual Prefontaine Classic at Stanford University on June 30.

Both runners established personal bests in their signature events at the prestigious Diamond League meeting - Blankenship in the Bowerman Mile and Green in the 800 meters.

For Blankenship, it was his fifth consecutive appearance at Pre. After three races in Europe over the past month, the former University of Minnesota standout took on a field of 14 world-class distance runners.

He used his strength and experience to stay with the lead pack throughout the race, ultimately placing seventh with a PR of 3 minutes, 52.51 seconds. More important, he also achieved the qualifying standard for the 2019 IAAF World Championships.

"An opening came up for Ben to run the Bowerman Mile, and he knew what he had to do,” OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said. “So, mission accomplished and a bonus of a PR."

Blankenship, a 2016 Olympic finalist in the 1,500m, set his previous best of 3:53.04 in the Bowerman Mile at the 2017 Pre Classic.

"I went into Pre wanting the opportunity to not just compete well, but to compete for a chance to win," Blankenship said. "That was my only goal ... I think the race went well. I made a few mistakes that we can correct going forward, but all in all, it was a good race."

Green, a second-year pro out of Virginia Tech, was making her Pre Classic debut. She came into the race hoping it would be a "perfect opportunity" to break the 2-minute barrier in the 800m. Her previous best of 2:00.06 came in the finals of the 800m at the USATF Outdoor Championships last summer.

"Even if it meant running 1:59.99, I would have been happy with that," Green said.

As it turned out, she was more than up to the task.

Looking strong and composed, Green stayed with the leaders through 600m, and then remained "relaxed and smooth" over the final straight to place fourth with a time of 1:58.75, sixth-fastest in the world this year.

"Coach told me before the race not to let any gaps form, so that's what I tried to do," Green said. "Going into the last 200m, I saw the clock at 1:28, and I knew if I just stayed relaxed and smooth, I could get below (2 minutes). After I finished, I knew I had most likely run at least 1:59, but I was really surprised to see 1:58 on the scoreboard."

One person who was not that surprised was her coach.

"It's been a long time coming for Hanna, so it was probably obvious that when she did break through, she would really smash through," Rowland said. "She has been working consistently hard and diligently since she joined the team, and I'm pleased she is now gaining some recognition for her efforts."