UK steeplechasers Andrew Lemoncello (Fife AC) and Barbara Parker (City of Norwich AC) sparked the endurance athletes heading for the BMC Nike Grand Prix incorporating the UK Challenge at the Manchester Regional Arena on Saturday 9 June by winning medals on the third day of the NCAA Division I Championships at Sacramento, California.
Lemoncello took silver – after finishing fourth in the past two years – in a personal best of 8:27.29 while Parker’s bronze was brightened considerably by her time of 8:48.82 taking her to the top of the season’s Power of 10 rankings. Both are at Florida State University but fly home on Monday to join the UK competitive scene in time to be considered for places in the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Teams for the upcoming European Cup matches.
Lemoncello went into these Championships with a lifetime best of 8:30.12 from2005 and a season’s best of 8:36.48 that placed him top of the Power of 10 rankings ahead of Glen Comish (Sale Harriers Manchester), who clocked 8:42.37 at the opening British League Premiership match at Barnet last month.
After cruising through his semi-final in 8:40.91, Lemoncello comfortably secured second place behind Barnabas Kirui (Kenya), who won in 8:20.36 for Mississippi University. Third place went to Aaron Aguayo (Arizona State) in 8:32.40.
Parker entered her final with a best of 9:53.26, run when she was second in her NCAA Divisional race last month. She finished only 0.31sec outside the UK record of 9:48.51 set by Lizzie Hall (Herts Phoenix) at last year’s BMC Nike Grand Prix incorporating the UK Challenge at Watford.
It earned her third place behind Anna Willard (Michigan), who won in 9:38.08, and Lindsey Anderson (Weber State), second in 9:46.48.
And it propelled Parker to the top of the Power of 10 rankings, ahead of Hatti Dean (Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield), who races in Manchester this evening against Helen Clitheroe (Preston Harriers), Tina Brown (Coventry Godiva Harriers) and Ruth Senior (City of Norwich), who have all beaten the Power of 10 national target of 10:25.0 already this season.