Putting Solinsky's performance in perspective

Solinsky_Chris_10K_AR_blog.jpg

You knew it was going to be fast, but...

When the declared entries were posted for Saturday's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, it was immediately clear that the men's 10,000 meters was going to be a world-class race. The only question, really, was, "How fast will it be?"

That seemed to hinge on whether or not Galen Rupp, the seven-time NCAA champion while at Oregon, would run at Angell Field. His much-publicized attempt at the American record in the 10K would either take place in Palo Alto or on what is essentially his home track in Eugene, Ore.

In the end, Rupp chose Stanford's surface and joined an elite field that included former University of Wisconsin stars Simon Bairu, Tim Nelson and Chris Solinsky.

Of the three, Solinsky seemed least likely to make noise in the race, seeing as how he would be making his 10K debut. How wrong that assumption would turn out to be.

Solinsky not only was the class of the former Badgers in the race, he was the class of the field -- and became the class of American distance running in the process.

Solinsky_Chris_10K_AR_Blog_2.jpgRupp did indeed finish below the previous American standard of 27:13.98 -- set nine years earlier on the same track by Meb Keflezighi -- but it is Solinsky's name that now sits next to the American record time.

26:59.60.

It's a time that puts Solinsky -- just 25 years old and three years removed from his outstanding career at UW -- in some extremely elite company. With a range that obviously now runs from 1,500 meters all the way to 10K and an ability to close the final 800 meters of a 10K in a ridiculous 1:55, it's no stretch to put him in the category of "world class."

How impressive was Solinsky's time?

- Rupp dropped three seconds off Keflezighi's old American record ... and finished fourth.

- Former UW and current Oregon Track Club teammate Simon Bairu cut more than 25 seconds off his previous lifetime-best time to set the Canadian record at 27:23.63 ... and he was fifth.

- Another Solinsky teammate at OTC, former Badger Tim Nelson, dropped five seconds off his winning time from last year's Payton Jordan 10K ... and was seventh. Keep in mind that Nelson was a 2009 IAAF World Championships qualifier at 10,000 meters.

Only 32 men in history have run a 10K faster than Solinsky accomplished the feat Saturday, and he became the first athlete born outside the continent of Africa to ever crack the 27-minute barrier.

And he did so in a fashion that made it look easy. He clocked the 24th lap of the 25-lap race in 60.1 seconds. The 25th circuit? He made it around in about 56 seconds.

The scary thing -- for his competitors, anyway -- is that Solinsky still views himself as a 5,000 meters specialist. He ran that distance as a member of the U.S. national team at last year's world championships after finishing runner-up to teammate and former Badger Matt Tegenkamp at the U.S. championships.

Not everyone is so sure.

"He's been saying that for the last two weeks," Bairu told UniversalSports.com. "He's definitely a 10K man in denial."

Coverage of Solinsky's record run

ON WISCONSIN