Who are Jeffrey Riseley, Ben. St Lawrence, and Andrew Bumbalough?
At the 2011 Melbourne Track Classic three athletes, perhaps not widely known to United States distance running fans, had strong performances. In two cases their performance included personal records (PR’s) of fourteen and fifteen seconds in the 5000 meters, which is a huge PR for an elite athlete to make. Let’s get to know those three runners a little bit better.
Riseley is only twenty-four years old. But the Australian middle distance runner coached by Nic Bideau has already competed at the 2007 and 2009 World Championships and the 2008 Olympics. Riseley won the 1500 meters at the Melbourne Track Classic for the third straight year. In 2009, the win went relatively unnoticed. In 2010, he beat Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis and Olympic gold medalist Asbel Kiprop, taking advantage of the later’s fall early in the race. In 2011, however, no one could dispute the outcome. Riseley was the better runner, winning again over Willis and Kiprop.
Riseley’s PR for the 1500 meters is 3:32.93, which ranks him as the third fastest Australian in history. That PR race was run in Rome in the summer of 2009 when Riseley was just twenty-two. The Australian record holder is Ryan Gregson, who in 2010 at just twenty years of age, ran 3:31.06.
Riseley is definitely a name to remember. He had plantar fasciitis and missed most of the 2010 season but if this early season race is any indication, he is ready to take on the likes of Willis and Kiprop come next summer at the World Championships.
Ben St. Lawrence
St. Lawrence is another Australian runner who had a big race in front of his home country fans at the 2011 Melbourne Track Classic. He entered the race with a 5000 PR of 13:25.88 from 2009. However, after hanging with the lead pack for the first eleven and a half laps of the race, and then challenging eventual winner Bernard Lagat over the last lap, St. Lawrence earned a fifteen second PR. His time of 13:10.08 makes him the number two Australian over 5000 meters in history. The only Aussie to run faster is Craig Mottram, who finished sixth at this year’s Melbourne Track Classic. This was Mottram’s first race after a long layoff. Mottram owns the seven fastest times in Australian history over 5000 meters, all under 13:10.
This meet was also the Australian National Championships, so St. Lawrence captured the national title and since his time was well the World Championship “A” standard of 13:20.00, he clinched a berth on the Australian team to the 2011 World Championships.
After a promising junior running career, St. Lawrence gave up the sport and put on some weight while partying and drinking on a regular basis. He was watching the 2006 Commonwealth Games with some friends and decided to make a running comeback. Four years later and some twenty-two kilograms lighter, he was representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games in the 5000 and 10,000 meters. Next up is the even bigger stage – the World Championships.
Bumbalough who is just a couple weeks shy of his twenty-fourth birthday attended high school at Brentwood Academy in Tennessee. While in high school he won the 2004 Arcadia Invitational two mile with a time of 8:49.87. He was also second at the 2004 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.
After high school he attended Georgetown University. As a junior athlete (nineteen and under) at Georgetown he got his first taste of elite international racing. He was the 2006 USA junior national champion for 5000 meters and competed at the 2006 Junior World Championships in both cross country and the 1500 meters.
During his 2005-2010 career as a Georgetown Hoya, he was a seven time All-American and a three-time Big East conference champion (2008 1500, 4X800 relay, and cross country). He improved his finish at the NCAA Championships in cross country from 22nd in 2007, to 13th in 2008, to 8th in 2009. He was the 2008 NCAA Indoor runner-up in the 3000 meters. Despite battling injuries and illness during his last year and a half in college, he still managed to run a 5000 PR of 13:30.77 at the 2009 Payton Jordan Invitational and to place third at the 2010 NCAA Championships in the 5000 meters, his final collegiate race. He followed this with a third place at the 2010 USA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
Bumbalough has since moved to Oregon and is now coached by Jerry Schumacher. He came in second at the USA Cross Country Championships, earning a spot on the US team for the 2011 World Cross Country Championships to be held in Spain on March 20.
With his 13:16.77 (a fourteen second PR) at the Melbourne Track Classic Bumbalough now shares something his Oregon Track Club teammates Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp have – a World Championship “A” standard.
Riseley, St Lawrence, and Bumbalough. Not household names yet. Not like Rudisha, Bekele, and Lagat. But file those names away because if they can keep having success like they did at the Melbourne Track Classic, they could be among the big names during the 2011 track & field season.