BOSTON (AP) — Anna Pierce, a Telstar graduate and Greenwood native, was already an Olympic finalist in the steeplechase and the American indoor champion at 1,500 meters when she tried the 800 for the first time.

Evidently, she’d been missing out all these years.

Pierce was undefeated at that distance last season and ranked No. 2 in the world with a best time of 1 minute, 58.80 seconds. Those performances have made her one of the headliners for the Boston Reebok Indoor Games on Saturday.

“I love the 800,” said Pierce, who plans to run the 1,000 in Boston but the 800 at the World Indoor Championships in March. “I’m made for the 800 and 1,500 more than the steeplechase. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to do the steeplechase or even the 5,000 meters in the future.”

Pierce pulled out of last week’s Millrose Games with an illness, but said Friday she’ll be ready to go at the Reggie Lewis Center on the campus of Roxbury Community College.

She’s certainly not the only star who has shown up to run.

Tirunesh Dibaba, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist at 5,000 and 10,000, will try to break her own record of 14:11.15 in the 5,000 over a track that has produced several records.

“The crowd is unbelievable,” said Dibaba, who expects a large contingent of Ethiopians living in the Boston area to cheer her Saturday. “I hope we have that atmosphere.”

American distance star Bernard Lagat — a two-time Olympic medalist and three-time world champion – will be coming off his record-setting eighth victory in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games. Lagat is planning to skip the 1,500 for the 5,000.

Lagat said he’s been careful not to neglect his speed work while training for the longer distance, and he expects to have the same devastating kick he had at Madison Square Garden.

“I think I can have the same finishing kick at 5,000 meters, depending on how the race is run, if we have a smooth pace,” Lagat said.

Traditionally one of the marquee events, the men’s 1,500 is hardly bereft of talent.

New Zealand’s Nick Willis, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, returns to competition after a long layoff due to hip surgery. Willis was second in Beijing but was elevated to second after Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain was caught doping and lost an appeal.

Willis won in Boston last winter before being injured, but said he’s been careful about his training in New Zealand so that he’ll be healthy for his return.

“I’m raring to go. I’m excited,” he said Friday. “I wish the race was today.”


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