June 22, 2013
Des Moines, IA – The men’s 1500m final came down to a 400m sprint. Russell Brown led through opening splits of 63 and 2:09 and led at the bell (2:54) as the entire field was separated by only .58 seconds.
The great tactician Matt Centrowitz (2011 World bronze medallist) stalked Brown at the bell and took the lead on the backstretch and never would give it up winning in 3:45.17. Leo Manzano (Olympic silver medallist) was fifth coming into the homestretch, but he found some running room and closed a little on Centrowitz to finish second in 3:45.35. Olympian Lopez Lomong was clearly third best today as unheralded Matthew Elliott bid his time on the inside and moved up to pass Will Leer close to the line to finish fourth. The entire field except for Craig Miller and Andrew Wheating would finish within 2 seconds of Centrowitz. Wheating, who ran 3:30.90 in 2010, slowed to a jog the final lap, as he said his foot (plantar fasciitis) “exploded” the last lap.
We assume you saw the race, but if not you can watch it now:
Quick Thoughts with Results and Video Interviews Below:
1) The cream rose to the top. Three guys in the final had ever finished top three at USAs during a World Championship year, and all three made another one here. Matt Centrowitz (Worlds bronze in 2011) got the win, Leo Manzano (Olympic silver medallist) was right with him, and Lopez Lomong was just a couple steps behind. (Andrew Wheating went to Worlds in 2011 after finishing 4th in 1500 and obviously has been top 3 at 2 Olympic Trials.) Fast or slow that’s what you expected and that’s what happened.
2) Never discount Leo Manzano. The guy is a championship racer. Coming in, the Olympic silver medallist was not only without a shoe contract, but he was coming off a dead last performance at the Pre Classic. None of that mattered today. Centrowitz edged him here, but without getting boxed in, the places could have been reversed. Manzano was really closing hard in the last 50, and yet with 140 meters to go, he seemed to be dead and going nowhere in fifth. What a warrior. Post-race reaction from Leo here.
3) The US has two legitimate medal threats in Centro and Manzano. Centro and Manzano both surprised a lot of people when they got their medals, but now more and more people are realizing that these two are two of the best Championship style racers in the world and both have to be considered medal threats.
4) Lopez Lomong is doubling back in the 5000 Sunday despite having hamstring issues. After the race, Lomong said he has been having hamstring issues and he had to back off with 400m to go today because of his hamstring. Nonetheless, he said he enjoys the 5000m more than the 1500m and will be running the 5000m tomorrow in the heat. Lomong said he grew up in the heat (Lomong was a “Lost Boy” of Sudan) and it should help him tomorrow. Meanwhile, we asked Will Leer about the 5000m and he said you couldn’t pay him enough money to run in the 90 degree heat tomorrow for 3+ miles. Post race interview with Lopez here.
And do you not think the 90 degree heat will be a factor? Hit play on the video below. It shows Todd Williams being carried off the track after trying to stick with Bob Kennedy in the heat of Indianapolis in 1997. We have it queued to start at that point.
5) Matthew “Who?” Elliott Finished 4th.
The 4th place finisher was Matthew Elliott. Total unknown coming into today who didn’t even qualify for the Olympic Trials, and has a real job as a teacher. Yet there he was beating Will Leer. He needs to get his blog going again. Nice run by the 27-year old, Scott Simmons coached American Distance Project Athlete who has a pb of just 3:40.52 and mile pb of just 3:57.16. Elliott was next to last at the bell (the field was only separated .58 from first to last), and had the third fastest last lap. Impressive. Elliott now needs to go run sub 3:37.00 to go to Worlds (see #6).
6) Will Leer Comes Close Again, But Could He Still Go To Worlds?
Leer picked the wrong time to come of age as a 1500m runner in the US. He came up just short once again. He said the final lap “was a shit show” with a lot of bumping and being boxed in. Leer has a penchant of finishing just off the podium in championship years. He was 4th at the Olympic Trials in 2008, 5th at the World Championship Trials in 2009, 5th at the Trials in 2011 (which only missed the team by one as Bernard Lagat who was 2nd had already said he wasn’t going in the 1500), and 5th this year.
Now we just realized Leer could still end up in Moscow. Lomong said the 5000 is his main event. If he qualifies in that also, he’ll likely do the 5000 and not the 1500 in Moscow as the double is next to impossible (the 5000 1st round is the day before the 1500 first round and the 1500 semis are 1:40 before the 5000 final).
So if Lomong doesn’t go in the 1500, then Leer might possibly go as fourth placer Matthew Elliott has a pb of just 3:40.52 and the ‘B’ is 3:37.00. Now USATF says you have to be top ‘4’ to chase the standards, but we assume they’d let Leer go even though he was fifth if Lomong says he’s not going.
No one besides Centrowitz will go unless one person get’s the ‘A’ as right now Centrowitz, Manzano, Lomong and Leer only have the ‘B’.
Centrowitz has no incentive to go chase the “A” standard, as he’s going to Worlds no matter what. If Centrowitz for whatever reason does not go and try and run fast it means two other guys will have to hit the “A” standard for the US to send a full team to Worlds. Our assumption is Centro will go and get it and Manzano will hit it as well, but if Centro doesn’t chase it, things get more interesting.
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Post Race Reaction: Centro Wanted to Make a Statement
Centrowitz is a huge talent and a great tactician and he delivered on his promise here. He said, “I’m thinking to myself like what do I have anything to be nervous about (in the final). I’m in great shape. In my head I said, ‘Dominate the final’ and that’s what I set out to do, I didn’t really glance back. Definitely wanted to make a statement heading to Worlds. I’m in great shape, definitely looking forward to improving on my bronze medal.”
Leo’s SIXTH Straight US Team
Leo Manzano has a shinier medal than Centrowitz with his Olympic silver, but one thing he doesn’t have is any endorsement contract. Considering how well Leo ran here, the fact he is the reigning Olympic silver medallist, and that this was his sixth straight World/Olympic team to make (yes SIX in a row), it’s hard to believe a lot of people were wondering whether he’d make the team, but Leo had raced inconsistently this year.
That is all forgotten now, except for the part of Leo not having a contract. Leo said he tried to put the lack of a contract behind him, as he takes pride in representing his country, his family and his friends, regardless of having a shoe contact.
“I kind of pictured myself as Rocky…to train on my own and to know I did this on my own without a lot of help (except) for my friends and my family… At the end of the day I’m just really happy to go back and represent my country,” he said.
Leo said he plans to race 4-6 times before Worlds, possibly in Lausanne, Paris and Monaco.
Leo Talks a Little “Rocky”
(another Leo interview here)
Lopez’s Hamstring Affected Him During the Race, But He’s Running The 5k
Lopez has been battling a bad hamstring, but that didn’t stop him from attempting the 1500/5000 double here. He said he felt the hamstring with a lap to go and “basically was running on a flat tire” the last lap.
Don’t think that means he won’t be running the 5000m on Saturday in 90+ degree heat. He said, “I’ll be there at 4:30 tomorrow.” As outlined above the 1500/5000 double is not really possible at Worlds, and Lopez said, “I enjoy (the) 5000 more.” The focus has been doing what is necessary to get a medal at 5000m this year.
An Emotional Andrew Wheating DFL: “I’d rather be DFL in this race than make a team and have to be kicked out first round for the third time in a row.”
When Wheating ran 3:30.90 in 2010, the sky seemed the limit, but he was DFL here with plantar problems.
The plantar hindered Wheating last year, preventing him from advancing at the Olympics. That weighed on him here. He said, “With about 400 to it (the pace) started to pick up and my foot basically exploded. …DFL could not feel any worse. I could be top 3. I do not have any doubts. I could be top 3. I ran, I got hurt, and instead of pressing through it, I let myself admit defeat, which is not what you want to do. And I could have ran that way. I could have run to be top 3, but my foot exploded and I just didn’t want to have a repeat of last year where I make it and all of a sudden I’m knocked out first or second round in Moscow. I just had these flashes of last year. Making the Olympics might seem like the best thing in the World, which it is, I’m so grateful for it. But you know, I have higher goals than just making teams. I want to be efficient, I want to be a medal contender. And I’d rather be DFL in this race than make a team and have to be kicked out first round for the third time in a row.”
Will Leer Won’t Run 5000m
Will Leer had been running great this year at 1500m and 5000m. Despite never making a US Worlds team, Leer realized he was on a roll and said his goal coming in “was to win.” Doubling back in the 5000m in the heat against a stacked field is not in the cards however. Will was probably the most upset guy after the race, but as we outlined above he may have a path to the Worlds. That path would be a lot easier if he had not been passed by Elliott right before the line.
Russell Brown Ready to Move East
Brown will soon be moving East to join his fiancee and a new training group with the NY-NJ Track Club. Brown said he had not done the things he needed to do this year (enough fast speed work) to make the team, but he was not hanging them up and looking forward to being back on the East Coast.
Day 3 Photo Gallery
All Post Race 1500m Videos Below: