By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
FALMOUTH, MA, USA (19-Aug) — Craig Engels of the Nike Oregon Project earned his first victory as a professional here at the Aetna Falmouth Mile, while Brooks Beast Hannah Fields snagged a personal best of 4:28.32 in a tight win over Canadian Nicole Sifuentes. On a blustery but beautiful summer evening, both races turned tactical, fast.
Though it’s his rookie campaign as a pro, Engels appeared to be a veteran moving up through the field in the final two laps. It was by design, as the Ole Miss grad shadowed two-time Olympic medalist Nick Willis stride for stride, sitting at the rear of the eight-man field as Julian Matthews, Daniel Herrera, and Colby Alexander did the work up front through 800m.
Willis was first to make a sizable move 600 meters out from the finish, surging from back to front trying to inject a bit of speed into the lagging race. After an opening 800m of 2:03, the whole field was prepared for a fast second half.
“We were fairly cruisy through the first three laps, so I thought I better get into position with 600 to go,” said Willis. “With 300 to go the pace wasn’t picking up, so I went to get into position.”
Forced wide, Willis worked hard to match Garrett Heath, taking the bell in 3:05. The pair did the hard work while Engels sat tucked in behind playing the waiting game.
Engels’s one and only move came in the final hundred, when Willis simply ran out of gas kicking out of the bend. Midway down the straight Engels slid by on Willis’s inside to eek out the win 4:00.19 to 4:00.47, with Colby Alexander kicking hard to take third in 4:00.54. Heath was fourth in 4:00.86.