Nilsson Breaks Own School Record in the 1500m, Places Fifth in the Event at the Prefontaine Classic

May 24, 2003

UCLA junior Lena Nilsson broke her own school record in the 1500m today, placing fifth in the event against a world-class field at the 29th annual Prefontaine Classic held at historic Hayward Field (11,097 attendance) in Eugene, OR.

Nilsson, a three-time NCAA individual champion who also has the school record in the 800m (2:02.26), clocked at 4:07.69, a personal-best and breaking her old school 1500m record of 4:09.89, set on July 6, 2002 in New Brunswick, ME. Her mark of 4:07.69 is also the top collegiate mark on this season's chart.

A statistical breakdown of Nilsson's race had her running a 64.96 after the first 400m, 66.62 in the second 400m (2:11.58, 800m) and a 65.13 in the third 400m (3:16.71, 1200m).

'This was a very good race for her,' said Bruin distance coach Eric Peterson. 'She broke through some pacing barriers she's never gone through before. That's quite a bit faster than Lena's ever been at the 1200m mark (3:16.71). She continues to make progress with every race and this effort comes at a key time.'

Slovenia's Jolanda Ceplak won the 1500m race in a time of 4:02.44, followed by USA's Suzy Favor Hamilton (4:03.47), Ethiopia's Meskerem Legesse (4:03.96) and Jamaica's Mardrea Hyman (4:06.36). There were 12 runners in the race.

Ceplak, the world indoor record holder at 800m, with her mark of 4:02.44 set a new Slovenian national record and her time was the fastest in the world this season by seven seconds. In all, there were 11 world-best performances on Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic.

Several Bruin alumni also competed - Gail Devers, in her first race since injuring her right hamstring three weeks ago, placed eighth (13.06) in the 100m hurdles and Amy Acuff was third in the high jump (6-5.75). John Godina withdrew from the meet with a hyperextended finger.

The Prefontaine Classic will be televised tomorrow (Sunday, May 25) on NBC at 10:30 a.m.-noon.

Nilsson (Vallentuna, Sweden) and her Bruin teammates on May 30-31 will compete in the NCAA West Regional Qualifying meet at Stanford and on June 11-14, Nilsson will defend her 1500m title at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor T & F Championships, hosted by CS Sacramento.

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