Preps Talk

Ethiopia's Kebede sets course record in Chicago Marathon

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Ethiopia's Kebede sets course record in Chicago Marathon

CHICAGO (AP) Tsegaye Kebede saw a few Ethiopian flags as he approached the finish line and figured he'd say hello.

So he started waving.

Kebede had plenty to celebrate in his course-record win Sunday in the Chicago Marathon.

He pulled away late and was all alone, smiling to fans as he neared the finish at Grant Park and crossing the line in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 38 seconds. That easily eclipsed the previous mark of 2:05:37 set by Kenya's Moses Mosop last year and was more than enough to beat countrymen Feyisa Lilesa (2:04:52) and Tilahun Regassa (2:05:28).

"This is a great day for us, for Ethiopia, especially," Kebede said.

Atsede Baysa made it a sweep for the country with a thrilling win in the women's race, edging Kenya's Rita Jeptoo by about a step. The two traded leads down the stretch, with Jeptoo briefly grabbing it as they turned into Grant Park and Baysa quickly regaining it.

She kept looking over her shoulder during the final stretch and barely hung on, with Jeptoo making one final push and raising her arms at the finish line.

Baysa broke the tape, though, finishing in 2:22:03, a second ahead of Jeptoo. That ended the three-year run of Russia's Liliya Shobukhova, who placed fourth at 2:22:59. Kenya's Lucy Kabuu (2:22:41) was third.

"I came to win this race," Baysa said. "When I came upon the finish line, I knew I won the race."

Jeptoo knew it, too, but was elated anyway. That's why she raised her arms at the line.

"I was happy because I finished second, and I had a lot of energy to finish," Jeptoo said.

The winners each received 100,000. Kebede earned an extra 50,000 for setting the course record and Baysa got another 10,000 for running a sub 2:24:00.

On a cool day that seemed made for a course record, Kebede delivered.

He and Lilesa started to break away over the final three miles, and with about a mile to go, it was clear that this was Kebede's race.

The runner-up to the late Sammy Wanjiru in 2010 in a stirring finish, he ended a nine-year run by Kenyan men and, maybe, sent a message that he should have made the Ethiopian Olympic team.

He got passed over after taking third in Beijing in 2008 but came through Sunday with the first win by an Ethiopian man in Chicago. It was also the second major marathon victory for Kebede to go with the top prize at London in 2010.

With 42-degree temperatures at the start, the conditions were good for a race marked by tragedy and mishap in recent years.

There was also a mishap in 2006, when champion Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya slipped on a wet decal and banged his head as he crossed the finish line. In 2007, Chad Schieber, a 35-year-old Michigan police officer and father of three, died in near-90 degree heat.

Race organizers improved communication among various agencies and the runners. They also added more water distribution points and medical aid stations, but tragedy struck again in 2011 when William Caviness, a 35-year-old North Carolina firefighter, collapsed about 500 yards from the finish line and died on a day when temperatures reached the high 70s.

On Sunday, a 47-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest around the 21st mile and was taken to Chicago's Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. Race medical director Dr. George Chiampas told reporters the man was alert and talking after being shocked twice, and he said through a race spokeswoman late Sunday afternoon that the runner was in stable condition.

"We obviously are always concerned, and we're still waiting for more information from the hospital and we're obviously getting updated," said Chiampas, who would not say where the runner was from "out of respect for the family."

He wasn't sure if the runner had a previous heart condition.

Nine other runners had also been taken by ambulance as of Sunday afternoon with injuries or ailments, although none were life-threatening, Chiampas said.

As for the race itself, Mosop did not enter after missing the Olympics because of an injury. He is scheduled to run the New York City Marathon next month.

That left Wesley Korir as the favorite in his fifth Chicago appearance after winning in Boston this year, but he dropped off the lead pack around the 20th mile and took fifth.

Is Kebede the best marathon runner in the world at the moment? Korir said he'd let the fans decide that.

"But I think the marathon world is getting very competitive," he added. "There are a lot of other people that are coming up. But I think at the moment, definitely, he's a very good competitor. And I think I'll be honored if he's the best marathoner in the world right now."

He was certainly the best on this day, and the same goes for Baysa barely. She managed to come out on top and end an impressive run by a three-time defending champion.

Shobukhova was looking to put aside a disappointing Olympics and become just the second four-time winner male or female in Chicago. The only other runner to do that was Khalid Khannouchi (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002).

She had been dealing with a hamstring problem before this race, although she said it was not an issue Sunday, after she was unable to finish at the London Games because of stomach cramps.

"It just gives me some perspective, just take one step back and go for it again," Shobukhova said.

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

Who wants it more?

We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area football fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. — just after Chicago White Sox baseball. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive. High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday. This week we spotlight some Indiana vs. Illinois border wars:

Gary (West Side) at Woodstock, 7 p.m.

Hammond (HS) at Reavis, 7 p.m.

Hammond (Gavit) at St. Ignatius, 7:30 p.m.  

Poll opens Monday at 12 p.m. and closes Thursday at 4 p.m. Here is what fans need to do to vote:

— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word! 

We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.

Power Rankings: #4 - Batavia

Power Rankings: #4 - Batavia

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Batavia

Head coach: Dennis Piron

Assistant coaches: Matt Holm, Billy Colamatteo, Sean Anderson, PJ White, Dan Cadena, Adam Lester, Steve Bailey, Alvin Cole, Shane Holl and Gary Urwiler

How they fared in 2017: 13-1 (5-1 Upstate Eight River Conference). Batavia made the 7A state playoff field and defeated Glenbard North, Wheaton North, Lincoln-Way West and Benet Academy. They went on to defeat Lake Zurich in the state title game to capture the 7A state championship.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Lemont

Aug. 31 vs Naperville North

Sept. 7 vs Lake Park

Sept. 14 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 21 vs Wheaton Warrenville South

Sept. 28 vs Geneva

Oct. 5 @ St. Charles East

Oct. 12 vs St. Charles North

Oct. 19 @ Wheaton North

[MORE: 89 Days to Kickoff - St. Charles East]

Biggest storyline: Can the Bulldogs, winners of state titles in 2013 and 2017, get back to state and claim another 7A title?

Names to watch this season: LB Luke Weerts (North Dakota State) and LB Michael Jansey Jr. (Northwestern)

Biggest holes to fill: The Bulldogs will need to replace nine graduated starters from last seasons's state championship squad. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Bulldogs are turning the page from their championship season, which was capped off with a 21-14 OT victory over Lake Zurich in the title game. While the offense will be inexperienced to start the season, the program has never been in better shape under head coach Dennis Piron. The Bulldogs' defense feature two D-1 senior team leaders in Luke Weerts (North Dakota State) and Michael Jansey Jr. (Northwestern). The offense will look to run the football behind two starters back on the offensive line in senior Evan Holden and senior Anthony Glisson. Batavia will also see a ramped-up schedule, thanks to the new DuKane Conference. It will challenge the Bulldogs week in and week out. Bulldogs fans also have an added treat: this season marks the 100th rendition of the Batavia-Geneva rivalry game. If Batavia can get their play-action passing game sorted out they have the tools to make another deep run in 2018.