A Fan’s Guide To The 2017 Millrose Games: Centro Steps Up to Face the Studs in the 3K; Murphy-Andrews Showdown & Rowbury vs. Hassan vs. Grace Headline Wanamaker Miles

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By LetsRun.com
February 9, 2017

The 2017 NYRR Millrose Games, which will be held at the Armory in New York City on Saturday afternoon, is stacked once again. Eighteen Olympic medallists, including a staggering 11 Olympic champions will make their way to the Big Apple for the historic meet (from 1914 to 2011 it was the longest running event at Madison Square Garden). We’ll be on-site in NYC this weekend to give you insight from the pros and comprehensive post-meet coverage.

We love the distance events here at LetsRun.com and there are several tasty matchups. Olympic 1500 champ Matthew Centrowitz is stepping up to the 2-mile, where he’ll square off against World Indoor silver medallist Ryan Hill and Olympic finalists Ben BlankenshipMoh Ahmed and rising British star Andrew ButchartClayton Murphy and Robby Andrews headline the Wanamaker Mile, while the women’s mile features Olympic finalists Shannon Rowbury, Sifan Hassan and Kate Grace. There’s also Cas Loxsom vs. Donavan Brazier in the 1000, NCAA champ Molly Seidel in the 3k, Ajee Wilson vs. Charlene Lipsey in the 800 and high schooler DJ Principe going for sub-4:00 in the B heat of the mile.

The non-distance action is also full of studs as seven of the nine non-distance pro events feature a gold medallist from the 2016 Olympics. The list: Jeff Henderson in the 60 (vs. Noah Lyles), Omar McLeod in the 60 hurdles, Derek Drouin in the high jump, Tianna Bartoletta in the 60, Shaunae Miller in the 300 (vs. Sydney McLaughlin), Katerinia Stefanidi in the pole vault (vs. Sandi Morris) and Dalilah Muhammad in the 500. There are so many great events that we can’t discuss them all here.

You can watch all the action live on NBC; read on for meet details and select event previews.

What: 2017 NYRR Millrose Games

When: Saturday, February 11, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET

Where: New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory, New York, New York

How to watch: Live on USATF.TV (requires subscription) from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, then on NBC – yes regular NBC over the air for free (not NBCSN) – and online on NBC Sports Live Extra from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET.

Pro schedule (all times Eastern)

2:52pmMenInvitational Mile
2:59pmHS GirlsNew Balance High School Mile
3:06pmGirlsNYRR Fastest Kid on the Block
3:11pmBoysNYRR Fastest Kid on the Block
3:16pmCollege MenCollege Distance Medley Relay
3:28pmCollege WomenMetropolitan Relays 4×400
3:35pmMarching Cobras/Opening Ceremony
3:50pmWomenInvitational 3,000m
3:58pmWomenJohn Catsimatidis Pole Vault
4:04pmWomenHoward Schmertz 60m Hurdles
4:10pmMenHoward Schmertz 60m Hurdles
4:14pmYouth GirlsNYRR Young Runners 800m Final
4:20pmWomen60m Dash
4:25pmMenJoe Yancey  60m Dash
4:31pmMenMel Sheppard 1,000m
4:37pmCollege MenMetropolitan Relays 4×400
4:40pmMenJohn Thomas High Jump
4:44pmWomenWomen 300m
4:50pmMenNYAC 500
4:56pmMenPaavo Nurmi 2 Miles
5:12pmHS BoysNew Balance High School Mile
5:20pmWomenAT&T  500m
5:27pmWomenNYRR Wanamaker Mile
5:35pmHS BoysEastern 4×200
5:41pmWomen800m
5:46pmNational Anthem
5:50pmMenNYRR Wanamaker Mile

All LRC coverage * 2016 LRC coverage * Meet website *Elite fields

Wanamaker Mile fields/annotations courtesy New York Road Runners.

Armory Invitational Men’s Mile (2:52 p.m. ET) – DJ Principe Looks to Become the Third High Schooler to Break 4:00 Indoors

AndyBayerNike
MikeyBranniganNYAC
PeterCallahanBelgium
BrianGagnonHOKA NJ-NY TC
MacFleetNike Oregon Track Club
CristianSoratosadidas
ChrisHatlerUPenn
ConorLundyPrinceton
TravisMahoneyHOKA NJ-NY TC
RobNapolitanoColumbia
ChadNoelleAsics Furman Elite
JulianOakleyProvidence
DJPrincipeLaSalle Academy HS

This field contains men who have accounted for four of the past five NCAA 1500 titles (Andy Bayer, Mac Fleet and Chad Noelle) but the most intriguing storyline is whether DJ Principe can follow in the footsteps of Alan Webb and Drew Hunter and break 4:00 at the Armory. Hunter set the high school indoor record of 3:57.81 in this race last year, while Webb broke 4:00 for the first time at the Armory back in 2001. Principe came close in his last visit to New York on January 20, clocking 4:00.97 at the New Balance Games, but he struggled a week later in Boston, running 4:12 to take second in the HS mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix after coming down with an illness during the week. Principe raced last weekend (2:34 1k win at the Rhode Island Class meet (Editor’s note: Unsolicited to DJ’s coach- there is no need to race every single week) and with another week to recover and a solid field to race against, the opportunity for sub-4:00 is there.

Paralympic gold medallist Mikey Brannigan, who has autism, is also in this race and it will be interesting to see how he does. In August, he surprisingly went from 4:03.18 in the mile to 3:57.58 but he only ran 8:07 for 3000 at the Armory last week.

LRC Prediction: It’s LetsRun.com policy not to make predictions for ‘B’ races. Does anyone make predictions for AAA baseball games? But a race with a high schooler going for sub-4 counts as an A race. No sub-4 for Principe. Soratos, who ran 3:57 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, for the win.

Seidel's last 3000 was a dominant win at NCAAs

Seidel’s last 3000 was a dominant win at NCAAs last year

Women’s 3000 Meters (3:50 p.m. ET) – NCAA Star Molly Seidel Battles the Pros

BrieFelnagleadidas
StephanieGarciaNew Balance
DanaGiordanoUSA
AshleyHigginsonSaucony
ViolahLagatadidas
ShannonOsikaSaucony
AngelPiccirilloUSA
NatoshaRogersNew Balance
AndreaSeccafienUniversity of Toronto TC
MollySeidelNotre Dame
KateVan BuskirkBrooks

Seidel, the reigning NCAA champ who missed all of outdoors (injury) and cross country (out of eligibility) returned to action on January 21 with a 4:44 mile victory at Notre Dame and now faces an even bigger test as she battles against several pros in good form. Brie Felnagle is the current world leader in the mile thanks to her 4:27 in Seattle two weeks ago (she also ran 8:52 for 3k on January 14), while Canada’s Kate Van Buskirk ran 4:30.14 in New York on January 21. Natosha Rogers was 10th at USA XC last weekend. The only Olympian is the field is Kenya’s Violah Lagat (Bernard’s sister), who was a World Indoor finalist and Olympic semifinalist last year at 1500 meters. Seidel, whose PR is 8:57.13, can crack the NCAA’s all-time top 10 by running faster than 8:54.48.

LRC prediction: Felnagle has looked rejuvenated this year under new coach Drew Wartenburg and we predict she’ll continue her winning ways on Saturday.

John Catsimatidis Women’s Pole Vault (3:58 p.m. ET): A Rio Rematch Between Olympic Champ Katerina Stefanidi & Runner-Up Sandi Morris

MeganClarkeOiselle
SandiMorrisNike
KatieNagoetteadidas
AlyshaNewmanCanada
KaterinaStefanidiNike

The 2016 Olympic champ Stefanidi, the Stanford grad who now lives in Ohio, won her season opener in Boston, clearing 4.63m, but Morris defeated her in France on Sunday, clearing 4.71 to Stefanidi’s 4.61. It was Morris’ fourth straight win to start the year, with her season’s best of 4.72 coming in Dusseldorf on February 1.

LRC: Morris FTW.

PS. The men’s pole vault is also worth watching as it includes HS record holder Armand Duplantis of Lousiana (competes for Sweden internationally). Last weekend, he vaulted a ridiculous 18 feet, 9.25 inches (5.72 meters). There has only been one 19 foot vault in Millrose Games history. And the kid just turned 17 in November and is a junior in HS.

Loxsom winning the 600 at USAs two years ago

Loxsom winning the 600 at USAs two years ago

Mel Sheppard Men’s 1000 (4:31 p.m. ET) – Donavan Brazier vs. Cas Loxsom & the Brooks Beasts

DonavanBrazierNike
BrannonKidderBrooks Beasts TC
CasLoxsomBrooks Beasts TC
MylesMarshallHarvard
BrandonMcGortyChantilly HS
AndrewOsagieNike OTC
DavidTorrenceHOKA ONE ONE
ShaquilleWalkerBrooks Beasts TC

Both Brazier and Loxsom are coming off 600m wins, Brazier’s a 1:16.57 win in Boston on January 28 after Duane Solomon was DQ’d, Loxsom’s a 1:14.91 at Penn State on the same day. Loxsom’s time is the fastest ever run in the event indoors, and as a result he enters Millrose as the favorite in this race. But both Loxsom and Brazier (who says he’s fitter this year than he was at this time in 2016) are better at the 600 than they are at the 1000, so this race will be interesting to watch. Don’t forget about David Torrence, either. Though he’ll have had some travel to deal with (he ran 3:39 in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Saturday), he’s the American record holder in this event (2:16.76) — even though he now represents Peru. Harvard sophomore Myles Marshall, the son of former US standouts Debbie Grant (1:59 pb) and John Marshall (’84 Olympian, 1:43 pb), is also in the field. He ran 1:48.43 at age 16 (pb is now 1:48.20/1:48.17 oversize).

Update: HSer Brandon McGorty is also in the race. His pb is 2:25.81 last year in Virginia. The national indoor record for 1,000 is 2:22.28 (Robby Andrews) and the Virginia record is 2:23.68 (Alan Webb)

DyeStat.com – News – HS Star Brandon McGorty Running Against Pros in 1,000 at 2017 NYRR Millrose Games

LRC prediction: It’s hard to pick against Loxsom, who is coming off a world indoor best but we are tempted to as he seems much more like a 600-meter guy than 1k. Of course, he has run 2:19 for 1k before but we’ll go with the Peruvian David Torrence, who is the American record holder, just to confuse people with the nationality switch. It sounds more confusing than it really is. Bernard Lagat, for example, is the Kenyan 1500-meter record holder and also the American 1500 record holder.

Actually, we’ll stick with Loxsom. Loxsom FTW.

AT&T Women’s 300 Meters (4:44 p.m. ET) – Sydney McLaughlin Goes for HS National Record Against Olympic Champ Shaunae Miller

AshaRuthCPTC New Balance
NatashaHastingsUnder Armour
AshleyKellyCPTC New Balance
SydneyMcLaughlinScotch Plains, NJ
ShaunaeMilleradidas
AshleySpencerNike

Olympic 400 champ Shaunae Miller (Bahamas) got married to Olympic decathlete Maicel Uibo (Estonia) last weekend, so we guess the Millrose Games — where Miller will open her 2017 season — counts as the honeymoon. (If these photos of Miller with her bridal party are anything to go by, the wedding was incredible).

If you are wondering how the Estonian decathlete and Bahamian sprinter got together, the answer is easy – they met in college. Both starred at Georgia.

Miller has her hands full in this race as it also includes the 400-meter hurdle bronze medallist Ashley Spencer of the US and Natasha Hastings (4th in Rio in 400).

2016 Olympian Sydney McLaughlin will take aim at Francena McCorory‘s high school record of 36.96 after running 37.11 earlier this season.

LRC Prediction: Picking against Miller is risky (remember she beat America’s NBC’s darling Allyson Felix at the Olympics) but she hasn’t raced indoors the last two years. Of the big three, Spencer is the only one to have raced so far this year so we’re going with her. We think McLaughlin, who has the ‘it’ factor in terms of marketability, gets the high school record.

MB: Shaunae Miller just got married – take a look at these bridesmaid pics. OMG!!

Paavo Nurmi Men’s 2 Miles (4:56 p.m. ET) – Centro Steps Up to Face the 5K Studs

MohAhmedNike Bowerman TC
LawiLalangNike
BenBlankenshipNike OTC
AndrewButchartNew Balance
DonnCabralNike
KemoyCampbellNew Balance
MatthewCentrowitzNike Oregon Project
GarrettHeathBrooks Beasts TC
RyanHillNike Bowerman TC
FordPalmerHOKA NJ-NY TC
MorganPearson361 USA
BrianShraderSaucony
BenTrueSaucony

Traditionally the Wanamaker Mile is the race of the night, and while this year’s edition is strong as always, Matthew Centrowitz is the biggest star in American distance running right now and he’s running the 2 mile at Millrose instead of trying to three-peat in the mile. It’s a curious decision as you’d think NYRR and the Armory would want Centro in the marquee race, but he ran the mile two weeks ago and has said he’d like to explore some different distances in 2017.

The fact that Centro is entered makes the 2 mile a race to watch by default, but the competition he’ll face in New York is what makes it the best race of the meet. In addition to the Olympic champ, the race also includes World Indoor silver medallist Ryan Hill and Olympic finalists Ben Blankenship (8th in 1500), Andrew Butchart (6th in 5k), Donn Cabral (8th in steeple) and Moh Ahmed (4th in 5k) are all in the field. 5k specialist Ben True is also entered in just his second indoor race since 2010. Last year, several of these men were involved in a loaded 3k (Hill outkicked Mead, 7:38.83 to 7:38.85), and this race could be even better with Centro in the mix.

Apart from Centrowitz, none of the Oregon-based guys (Hill, Blankenship, Ahmed) have raced yet in 2017. But they’re not flying across the country to run slow. 3,000 meters/2 miles is Hill’s best distance — in addition to his World Indoor silver, he’s won the event at the last two U.S. champs and ran 7:30 in Paris last year — so he should provide stiff competition for Centrowitz. Mead showed last year that he can hang right with Hill, and Ahmed, who was one spot out of a medal in Rio, may be better than both of them. Two miles is a good distance for Blankenship as well, who comes to the 1500 from a strength background.

Butchart is also in terrific form, perhaps better than when he took 6th in Rio last year. In Boston two weeks ago, he ran 7:42 to finish behind only Paul Chelimo, and last week he ran a world-leading 3:54.23 mile at the Armory where he crushed the competition (2nd was 3:58).

But is any of that enough to stop Centrowitz? Last year, Centrowitz outkicked Mead, 7:40.74 to 7:40.95, two weeks before Mead finished second at Millrose. Before that, you’d have to go back to 2012 for his last serious 3k, where he was a distant 7th at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, running 7:46 to winner Caleb Ndiku‘s 7:38. Centrowitz is a lot stronger now, but this field should test his limits.

Centrowitz had quite a year indoors in 2016

Centrowitz had quite a year indoors in 2016

Normally the strategy against a miler like Centrowitz would be to push the pace early, but remember: Hill closed his 3k at Millrose last year in 26.36, faster than what Centro closed his mile in later that day. It’s hard to close much faster than 26.00 in a 3k/2 mile, so if Hill is near the lead at the bell, watch out.

FYI, the American indoor record is 8:07.41 by Galen Rupp in 2014 (the overall record is 8:07.07 by Matt Tegenkamp outdoors in 2007). The Canadian indoor record is 8:14.69 by Cam Levins in 2013 (from what we can tell, that’s faster than any Canadian has run outdoors as well). Centrowitz has said he won’t be gunning for the American record, but if someone pushes the pace early, he may be capable of achieving it.

LRC prediction: Centro is the Olympic gold medallist and has looked good so far in 2017. Even if 2 miles is a little long for him, we don’t feel comfortable betting against him. That being said Hill thrives at this distance and Butchart, who has a 13:08 5000 pb, is in FANTASTIC form.

If there were betting odds, we’d say bet on Butchart but expect Centro to win.

Women’s 500 – Olympic 400 Hurdles Champ Dalilah Muhammad vs. Alysia Montaño

WomenUSATF 500JordanLavenderUSA
WomenUSATF 500AlysiaMontañoNYAC
WomenUSATF 500DalilahMuhammadNike
WomenUSATF 500CourtneyOkoloNike
WomenUSATF 500PariisGarciaPuerto Rico

This should be a good one. Muhammad, the Olympic 400 hurdle champ, versus 2016 NCAA 400 champ Courtney Okolo as well as US 800-meter ace Alysia Montaño.  At 600 meters, we’d take Montaño (the American record holder at that distance) over Muhammad and Okolo, who ran 1:25.21 for 600 last weekend. But 500 is close enough to Muhammad and Okolo’s wheelhouse to make it interesting but not quite short enough for them to dominate.

LRC Prediction: Montaño and Muhammad haven’t raced this year. Okolo has run two good races (also has a 36.87 300) so we think she wins here.

NYRR Women’s Wanamaker Mile (5:27 p.m. ET) – Rowbury Goes for Three-Peat Against Stacked Field

FirstLastAffiliationNationMile PB1500m PBNote
AmandaEcclestonBrooksUSA4:25.644:03.254th 2016 USOT 1500m
KaelaEdwardsOklahoma StateUSA4:32.14i4:13.632016 NCAA indoor mile champion
AlexaEfraimsonNikeUSA4:27.394:03.39USA junior 1500m record holder; 3rd 2013 IAAF WYC 1500m
KateGraceNorCal DistanceUSA4:28.30i4:05.652016 USOT 800m champ
SifanHassanNike Oregon ProjectNED4:18.203:56.052016 WIC 1500m champion
KatieMackeyBrooksUSA4:25.484:03.812nd 2015 USA Indoor Mile; 6th 2015 USA 5000m
BrendaMartinezNew Balance Big Bear TCUSA4:26.764:00.943rd 2016 USOT 1500m; 2013 WCA 800m bronze medalist
HeatherKampfAsicsUSA4:27.234:04.463rd 2016 NBFAM; 2015/2014/2012 USA road mile champion
LaurenWallace (pacer)NorCal DistanceUSA4:38.394:13.472015 USA Indoor 1000m champ
LeahO’ConnoradidasUSA4:27.18i4:11.042015 NCAA indoor mile champ; 2014 NCAA steeple champ
ElinorPurrierNew HampshireUSA4:29.71i4:18.593rd 2016 NCAA indoor mile & steeple
DominiqueScott-EfurdadidasRSA4:31.57i4:08.652015 NCAA indoor 3000m champ
NicoleSifuentesSauconyCAN4:27.934:03.972014 WIC 1500m bronze medalist
ShannonRowburyNike Oregon ProjectUSA4:20.343:56.291st 2016/2015 Wanamaker; 4th 2016 OG 1500m; 3rd 2016 WIC 3000m; USA 1500m/5000m NR holder; 3rd 2009 WCA 1500m
Rowbury crushed the Millrose field in 2016

Rowbury crushed the Millrose field in 2016

For the past two years, it’s been a foregone conclusion that Shannon Rowbury would win the Wanamaker Mile. In both 2015 and 2016, no one else in the field was close to Rowbury’s level, and the only question was whether she’d take down Mary Decker‘s U.S. indoor record of 4:20.5 from 1982 (so far, she hasn’t). For Rowbury to win her third straight title on Saturday, however, it may require an American record. That’s how good this field is.

Based on 2016-2017 form, we see three women capable of winning this race: Rowbury, her new Nike Oregon Project teammate Sifan Hassan, who was the World Indoor champ at 1500 last year, and Olympic 800 finalist Kate Grace, who beat Hassan over 3,000 meters in Seattle on January 14. Rowbury ran 8:41 for 3k two weeks ago in her season opener in Boston, where she lost to Hassan by less than a second. Rowbury admitted that she didn’t feel as sharp as she’d like considering she had just come off a block of strength work at altitude in Mexico. Rowbury won’t be fully peaked until USAs at the start of March, but her speed should be further along at Millrose and the mile is her best event. We expect that she’s in low-4:20s shape right now.

For you transitive property fans out there, Hassan beat Rowbury two weeks ago, and Grace in turn beat Hassan two weeks before that (Grace also blasted a solo 2:02.29 800 on January 28). But both of those races came over 3,000 meters and a mile is the distance on Saturday. One would think that both Hasan and Rowbury would benefit in the distance moving down from 3000 to the mile as have run 3:56 for 1500, but the move down in distance probably helps Grace the most of all as she’s clearly historically been better at the 800/1500 than the 3k. All of which makes it hard to name one woman the favorite. For their careers, Hassan owns a 9-5 edge over Rowbury in the 1500/mile, but Rowbury won two of their three encounters in 2016.

We haven’t forgotten about the rest of the field. Brenda Martinez was a 2016 Olympian and split a respectable 2:01.94 in the DMR two weeks ago in Boston. Amanda Eccleston was one spot away from making the World Indoor and Olympic teams last year. Oklahoma State’s Kaela Edwards is the NCAA champion and broke the collegiate 1k record (2:40.79) on January 13. And 19-year-old Alexa Efraimson actually has the fastest 2017 time of anyone in the field (and #6 in the world) at 4:30.49. When Efraimson opened her season at 4:38 on January 14, we started to get nervous (“Oh no, is she going to go down the Mary Cain path?”) but her 4:30 made us feel a lot better about things. That being said, 2017 for Efraimson reminds us of 2015 for Mary Cain. When Cain didn’t PR in the 1500 in 2014, we said, “Pay close attention to how she does in 2015” as the sport is full of former teenage women’s stars who stopped improving. Efraimson didn’t PR at 1500 in 2016 so 2017 is a big year for her.

LRC prediction: Rowbury is far from a lock this time around, but she’s a great indoor runner and was fourth at the Olympics last year. However, we think Hassan is more talented and she’s much younger (24 vs 32) and she now has the same coaching as Rowbury so we think Hassan beats Rowbury. But Kate Grace beat Hassan earlier this year and seems to really be thriving under Drew Wartenburg. We’re real tempted to say that 2017 ends up being a breakout year for Kate Grace (as if making the Olympic final wasn’t impressive enough last year) at 1500, but even if that’s true we can’t pick someone with a 4:05 1500 pb (Grace) over someone with a 3:56.

Hassan FTW.

Women’s 800 (5:41 p.m. ET) – Training Partners Charlene Lipsey & Ajee Wilson Square Off

OliviaBakerStanford
JustineFedronicNike
CharleneLipseyadidas
KimarraMcDonaldJamaica
LynseySharpGreat Britain
SamanthaWatsonHenrietta, NY
Ajee’Wilsonadidas
JennaWestawayBrooks
CeciliaBarowskiHOKA NJNY TC

Both Lipsey (who’s run 4:40, 4:31 and 4:30 in the mile and won the 800 in Boston two weeks ago) and Wilson (who ran a #4 all-time 1:24.48 600 last weekend) have been on fire in 2017, but so far the training partners have yet to race until now. Olympic finalist Lynsey Sharp, whom Lipsey defeated in Boston, is also entered, as is high school phenom Sammy Watson, who crushed the HS 600 record last weekend by over a second (1:27.13). Watson ran 2:03.94 earlier this year for 800 and will be looking to move up to #2 all-time among U.S. high schoolers.

U.S. HS All-Time List, Girls’ 800
1. 2:01.8 Mary Decker, 1974
2. 2:03.59 Sabrina Southerland, 2013
3. 2:03.94 Sammy Watson, 2017
4. 2:04.13 Ajee Wilson, 2012

LRC prediction: As good as Lipsey has been, Wilson is the reigning World Indoor silver medallist and she’s our pick to win here.

NYRR Wanamaker Mile (5:50 p.m. ET) – A First-Time Winner Will Be Crowned

FirstLastAffiliationNationMile PB1500m PBNote
ColbyAlexanderHOKA NJNYTCUSA3:54.943:34.883rd 2016 NBFAM; 7th 2016 USOT 1500m
RobbyAndrewsadidasUSA3:53.16i3:34.784th 2016 WIC 1500m; 2nd 2016 USOT 1500m
JohnnyGregorekAsicsUSA3:55.273:36.046th 2016 USOT 1500m
DrewHunteradidasUSA3:57.153:41.85Was sub-4:00 high schooler before turning pro
EricJenkinsNike Oregon ProjectUSA3:57.093:35.942016 NBFAM champ; 2015 NCAA Indoor 3K/5K champ
DanielWinn (pacer)BAA HPUSA3:56.733:37.567th 2015 USA 1500m (9th NCAA)
CoryLeslieNikeUSA3:53.443:34.932015 PAG steeple bronze
LeoManzanoHOKA NJNYTCUSA3:50.643:30.982012 Olympic 1500m silver medal
KyleMerberHOKA NJNYTCUSA3:54.573:34.549th 2016 USOT 1500m
ClaytonMurphyNikeUSA3:57.11i3:36.232016 OG 800m bronze; 2016 USOT 800m champ
CharlesPhilibert-ThiboutotAsicsCAN3:54.523:34.232015 PAG 1500m bronze
IzaicYorksBrooksUSA3:53.89i3:37.742nd 2016 NCAA 1500m; 10th 2016 USOT 1500m
HenryWynneVirginiaUSA3:58.74i3:38.051st 2016 NCAA Ind Mile; 3rd 2016 NCAA 1500m

As much as we’d love to see it, unfortunately we won’t be getting a third installment in the Matthew CentrowitzNick Willis saga. In 2015, the two men produced one of the great finishes in the history of the Wanamaker Mile, Centro prevailing in 3:51.35 to Willis’ 3:51.46. Last year, Centro took down Willis again in the first of a trilogy of races as Centro and Willis went 1-3 at both World Indoors and the Olympics. Neither man is entered in 2017 (Centrowitz is in the 2-mile, while Willis isn’t running Millrose), which means that a new champion will be crowned on Saturday.

Even without Centro and Willis, there’s plenty of intrigue in this race, and no one has clearly established himself as the favorite. Clayton Murphy was the Olympic bronze medallist at 800 meters last year but looked out of place in his season opener, clocking 8:16 for 3k in Boston two weeks ago. We’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one given that 3k is beyond his range and it was his first race of the season. Expect a much better showing on Saturday.

Andrews racing Erik Sowinski in the 1k at Millrose two years ago

Andrews racing Erik Sowinski in the 1k at Millrose two years ago

Fellow 2016 Olympian Robby Andrews is another man to watch. He ran 3:53 in this race last year and almost made the Olympic final in Rio. He flashed his fitness on January 28 with a 2:21 1k victory in Boston, but couldn’t make up a one-second deficit on 1:50 guy Sam Penzenstadler in the 4×800 last weekend in New York, splitting 1:48.43 to Penzenstadler’s 1:49.05. Andrews’ big kick and pedigree (4th at World Indoors last year), however, make him extremely dangerous. One other thing to note with Andrews: no one has ever won both the high school and pro miles at Millrose. Both Andrews (2009) and Kyle Merber (2008) have a chance to make history in 2017.

Eric Jenkins proved his miling chops the last time he visited New York, taking down Olympic champion Centrowitz to win the Fifth Avenue Mile. He’s already run a 2:23/3:58 double and 7:44 for 3k this year and will be ready to roll at Millrose.

It’s hard to know what to expect from the rest of this field. Most of them have run a 3k already this year (Charles Philibert-Thiboutot has the fastest time behind Jenkins at 7:46), but few have run a mile and none against competition like this. Colby Alexander was on fire last year and ran 3:34 outdoors. Johnny Gregorek was 6th at the Olympic Trials. Merber beat both of them in a 3k two weeks ago, running 7:49. Henry Wynne is the reigning NCAA champ. Izaic Yorks ran 3:53 last year indoors. Leo Manzano bombed last week (4:08 at Camel City on a flat track) but says he’s been training well and is great at bouncing back from poor races. One of these guys will pop a big one, but we just haven’t seen enough so far in 2017 to predict who. That’s what makes this race exciting.

LRC prediction: Andrews is the top returner from 2016, has a monster kick, and we don’t see anyone capable of dropping him early as Centro and Willis did last year. Plus he grew up on the East Coast so Millrose is a big deal for him. So Andrews is our pick right? Not necessarily. As tempted as we are to pick Andrews, we remind ourselves that Clayton Murphy is basically a younger version of Robby Andrews, except he’s got an Olympic medal and 1:42 800 pb.

8:16 is hard to ignore as it’s awful for a guy at that level but 1:42 and Olympic bronze is even harder to ignore. Murphy FTW.

 


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