Ben St Lawrence has slashed twelve seconds from his personal best to clock a world championships B-qualifier in the 5000m at the Mt San Antonio College Relays in the United States.
St Lawrence, who was the runner-up in the Australian 5000m championships held at the World Athletics Tour in Melbourne behind Collis Birmingham, was sucked along by the fast pace in the large field to finish fourth and clock a time of 13:25.88.
St Lawrence's run makes him the third Australian this year to run under the B-standard for the world championships, with Collis Birmingham (A standard - 13:16.26 - already selected for Berlin) and Shawn Forrest (13:28.81) already under the mark so far this season. A maximum of one B-qualifier per nation can be selected for the world championships, which other athletes requiring the tougher A-standard of 13:20.00.
Just outside of the B-qualifier of 13:29.00 was Australian 10000m champion David McNeil (running for Northern Arizona University) who lowered his personal best to 13:30.63 in finishing eighth.
St Lawrence's time was just over a second outside of the New South Wales record of 13:24.63 set by Andrew Lloyd in his memorable victory at the 1990 Commonwealth Games over John Ngugi.
St Lawrence ran in the second pack for the first half of the race some 50 metres behind the leaders (who passed 3km in approximately 8:00), before chasing those who dropped off the lead pack hard over the final two kilometres. St Lawrence closed the final 800m in approximately 2:01, passing US 28:03 10km runner Sean Quigley in the process.
"I had been warned by Collis [Birmingham] and Mike Aish who have both run 13.20 and 13.23 at Mt SAC that it can be crazy in the first few laps and just to relax and then try to pick the guys off as the race went on," said St Lawrence after the race.
"I was out of my comfort zone with that many guys all going out in 62-64 seconds and got caught at a bit slower pace than I wanted on the 2nd and 3rd laps, but from there I did exactly what I aimed to do and was very happy to pick off a few each lap and finish as strongly as I did.
"I think the plan for next week may be to go out a little faster and see what happens," said St Lawrence on his next 5000m race at the NYRR Distance Carnival at Cal Berkeley.
In the women's 5000m, Australian 10000m champion Lara Tamsett set a new personal best.
Tamsett, 20, ran aggressively in the early part of the event, trailing the leaders Philes Moraa Ongori and Christin Wurth-Thomas by five metres at a fast pace which saw them pass through two kilometres in 6:09.
Soon afterwards she lost contact with the pair and was left by herself a long way ahead of the next pack. However, with a kilometre remaining Tamsett had tired noticeably and was swamped by the field but held on to place 10th in 15:51.43, an improvement of 12 seconds on her previous personal best set in winning the NSW 5000m championship in January.
The race was taken out by Moraa Ongori in a time of 15:23.33.
Other Australian competing included Zoe Buckman, running for Oregon, who finished seventh in the 1500m in a new personal best of 4:17.22 whilst Australian 1500m bronze medalist Craig Huffer placed third in the men's 800m in a time of 1:49.61.
Courtesy of Tim McGrath - Inside Athletics