On a night when millions tuned in to watch Major League Baseballs All-Star Game, four stars of the track and field world staged a midsummer classic of their own in Madison.
Olympian and former University of Wisconsin All-American Matt Tegenkamp gave the large crowd that gathered at the McClimon Memorial Track Complex an excellent show, shattering the previous track and state of Wisconsin records in a world-class 1,500-meter time trial.
Tegenkamp, just two weeks removed from earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 5,000 meters, clocked his metric mile in 3:37.94 to hold off training partners and fellow Olympic Trials qualifiers Jonathon Riley and Chris Solinsky for the win.
The time cut more than two seconds off the old McClimon track and Wisconsin state standard of 3:40.13, which Tegenkamp set on May 5, 2007.
Riley made a move for the lead midway down the backstretch of the races final lap, but Tegenkamp charged back to the front and led the pack down the homestretch, which was lined on both sides by an enthusiastic crowd estimated at least 1,000.
Once you get to about 200 to go you play it a little more tactical and you kind of want guys to come up on your shoulder and give you a boost, Tegenkamp said. We all train together every day and were all at the same level of fitness, so we kind of knew we would all be right there.
We were right on pace the whole way.
Tegenkamps time of 3:37.94, which equates to a mile pace of 3:54, was followed by Rileys 3:39.02 and the 3:40.67 turned in by Solinsky, another former Badger who was fifth in the 5,000 at the U.S. Olympic Trials. All three recorded times that convert to below four-minute mile pace, while Sean Quigley clocked in at 3:43.36 to finish fourth.
Between the crowd support and nearly perfect weather humid yet mild with no wind the special event provided an optimal environment for a record run.
We need to be racing now, so we need that atmosphere to kind of gear up for our races the rest of the summer, said Tegenkamp, who also owns the two-mile American record. Im glad we put on a good show and did what we were supposed to do.
The event also offered a rare opportunity for an Olympic athlete to take part in a competitive race close to home as he continues to train for the Summer Games.
We have a good training group here and we knew we could get a good crowd and a lot of support here in Madison, so we threw the idea out there and just ran with it, Tegenkamp said. Ive been at home all day, and its weird to be at home gearing up for an actual meet.
As far as his training, Tegenkamp said the hometown race provided every indication that he will be ready for the world stage when the Olympics get underway on Aug. 8.
I think it was great coming out here and getting a real solid race in, he said. It was good that everything kind of went to plan. Everyone ran fast and the crowd was great.
I think if I was in a real, high-pressure situation, I could run really fast.