By Robert Johnson
January 30, 2015
NEW YORK — The pre-meet press conference for the 2015 Armory Track Inviational was held today at the Park Central Hotel in New York. I’ve got six takeaways from the press conference.
1) The World Record In The Men’s DMR Is Going Down / Matthew Centrowitz Stole The Show With Lots Of Personality/Jokes
How do I know? Well NJ*NY TC coach Frank Gagliano (aka “Gags”) said so. When one of the meet organizers was talking about the DMR and mentioned there was a possibility of of a WR, Gagliano chimed in, “The world record will go.”
(If Gags says it, it’s happening. I’ve always loved the guy but even more so after he told me he was on LetsRun.com as 6:30 this morning as he is most mornings. LetsRun’s Jonathan Gault gave an in-depth explanation of how the WR could go down in our meet preview)
Speaking of world records, the coach of the 2008 University of Texas team of Kyle Miller (2:54.11), Danzell Fortson (46.90), Jacob Hernandez (1:47.00), and Leo Manzano (3:57.96) that set the world record (9:25.97), Jason Vigilante, was at the press conference today. When I asked Vigilante, who now coaches at Princeton, if he’d have one eye on his Tiger team and one eye on the leaders up front, hoping they went slow so his record would survive, he said that, no, he wants to see the record go down (a sentiment echoed by Manzano on Twitter). Records are made to broken, after all.
For the record, it should be pointed out that Texas set the WR in a race where there was very little competition – they destroyed the field by eight or nine seconds.
In terms of the WR, the key thing is that the race starts off fast. That’s likely to happen as Team USA leadoff leg Matthew Centrowitz, who ran a 2:19 1000/3:58 mile double two weeks ago, said he’s ready to go.
“Being the leadoff, I’m looking to get it going. I’m in good shape,” said Centrowitz, whom I later overheard joking with 400-meter leg Mike Berry (also an Oregon alum), “How big of a lead would you like to have?”
In general, Centrowitz was full of wisecracks that got the press to laugh. When he was introduced by Armory announcer Ian Brooks, Brooks said something along the lines of “bronze at 2011 Worlds, silver in 2013, can we expect gold in 2015?”
Centro cracked, “I’m not a mathematician but that sounds about right.”
At one point, when Galen Rupp was talking about how he’d likely do a workout after his two-mile race, Brooks said they’d of course be able to clear the track for him (Centro and Rupp had to dodge high schoolers on Thursday while doing 200s and had one close call) this time. Centro quipped, “Please don’t” as if the track wasn’t clear, they’d get out of having to do the workout.
Later, when asked what track and field athlete was his inspiration as a kid, Centrowitz said, “I’d probably say mine was Jim Ryun. I don’t read many books, but the The Jim Ryun Story was one that I finished. I like to put things in prespective and the times he ran back in the day [were fast]. It’s hard to imagine [how fast he could go] with the spikes [and tracks] we have today.”
When asked what he profession he’d be if he wasn’t a professional track and field athlete, Centro got his biggest laugh of the day by saying, “Profesional video game player. Give me a game and give me about a month, and I’ll be better than anyone else.”
Olympic triple jump silver medallist Will Claye wasn’t so sure about that and the two started debating with each other who was the best.
One last thing about Centro. His father, Matt Centrowitz, the former American record holder at 5000, turned 60 on Wednesday. Matthew joked that he was a bit worried his Dad was trying to celebrate the big birthday like he would have in the past – in style – and that might be a bit too much for a 60-year-old.
A one-on-one interview with Centro appears below.
2) Galen Rupp isn’t doing the mile/2-mile double. He’s doing just the 2-mile (we think).
When this meet was initially promoted in November, it was said there would be three world record attempts – men’s DMR, women’s 2-mile and men’s 2-mile. Last week, it was clear the men’s 2 mile world record was off as it was said that Galen Rupp would run the mile/2-mile double and the 2-mile is less than an hour before the mile.
Well now that’s changed. Today, Rupp said he’d be just doing the 2-mile.
“I’ll just be running the 2-mile tomorrow,” said Rupp. “[I’ll] just focus on running a really good 2-mile. I think that will set me up better for [a 5k at Millrose] than trying to double back from the mile.”
Later Rupp said, “[It’s] my first race of the season and will be a little bit of rust-buster and set me up to run a really good 5k in a couple weeks.”
Rupp didn’t want talk about whether the two races would be record attempts. I approached Rupp one-on-one and asked him if he could talk about the pace for tomorrow’s race to see if tomorrow’s 2-mile is a record attempt (Rupp set the American 2-mile record of 8:07.41 last January, Kenenisa Bekele has the world record of 8:04.35) but Rupp said he couldn’t talk as he had a TV commitment.
Agent and Armory Invite meet director Ray Flynn, however, did tell me that the Rupp’s 2-mile will not be a record attempt. He said it would be a “race” and added that the rabbit for the race is supposed to go 4:12 for the mile.
Earlier, when Runner’s World‘s Peter Gambaccini asked Rupp, who is the American indoor record holder in the 5000 at 13:01.26, if we might see a sub-13 at the Armory at the Millrose Games in two weeks, Rupp shrugged his shoulders.
One thing Rupp had no reservations talking about was his #1 world ranking by Track and Field News for the men’s 10,000 in 2014.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be ranked #1 in the world. It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Rupp, who added that he just now needs to make sure he gets the job done when the big meets roll around in 2015 and 2016.
Two last interesting things about Rupp.
One, when Rupp was asked if he missed Madison Square Garden – the long-time home of the Millrose Games before it moved to the Armory, Rupp was honest, “A little bit. Yeah. There was definitely something special about going in there,” said Rupp. “The Armory is a great venue as well.”
Secondly, when asked what his training partner Cam Levins was running, he said he didn’t know. Later when I bumped into Levins in the hall (he wasn’t at the press conference in the hallway), Levins confirmed to me that he was still going to double. When I said, “But Rupp is just doing the 2-mile right (as I was afraid things might have changed again in the last 30 minutes)?” Levins replied that he didn’t know and hardly ever knew what his own teammate was running.
While tons of college teammates have zero idea what their teammates are doing, I’m sure many fans assume everyone in the NOP knows everything about everyone else as it’s such a small group. Not true.
3) Running, Not School, Is Mary Cain’s #1 Priority – Cain is (for now) an 800/1500 Runner, Not 1500/5000 Runner
18-year-old New York native Mary Cain was obviously very popular with the press today. Cain, who competed in the New York high school state meet as a seventh grader, is in the midst of her first year as a non-high schooler, living and training in Portland. Cain made a point of point of telling the press New York is still home for her. When asked where she’s from, Cain says her reply is that she lives in Portland but is from New York.
Cain still considers herself a New Yorker, but her sister might disagree. Cain said when she got to New York, she put a photo up on Instagram of her and her Nike Oregon Project teammates. Her sister Catherine replied with a comment about how it was a pretty “touristy” thing to do.
When asked how her studies at the University of Portland were impacting her training, Cain replied. “Probably the better thing [to ask] is how my training impacting the studies because at the end of the day, running is #1 for me.”
Cain added that it’s pretty easy to study while she’s on the road. At meets, most athletes are either running or watching TV. Cain just does a little homework instead of watching TV. Cain said she’s a bit like her father, a doctor, who was able to do very well in college even though he “never went” to class. He could learn it just from the text books.
In terms of tomorrow’s race, Cain was asked why she’s running the 800 tomorrow and not the 2-mile as when the meet was first announced in November, Cain was slated to be part of a 2-mile world record attempt with Jordan Hasay. Cain explained the race changed because during the fall she trained more as a distance runner than a mid-d runner, but she and coach Alberto Salazar came to the realization she’s a mid-d runner.
“So originally I was going to do the 2-mile, but now we are going with the 800. I think a lot of it (the change) had to do with a shift in training. During the fall, we really tried to almost train me as a 15(00)/5k runner, and I think once we hit like December, we kind of realized I’m more of 8(00)/1500 runner. Right now I think a lot of it is my speed is the strongest part of my race. It’s all about the last 100 meters. So rather than try to almost recreate my training, we decided why [don’t we] really increase the quality of my training. We are coming at it from the bottom up – as an 8/15 runner so over the course of the season I’m going to be progressing up in distance so I can finally attack a mean mile [at the end of the season].”
In terms of tomorrow’s 800, Cain said she’s excited for it as it will be her first indoor 800 since her freshman year of high school when she raced Ajee Wilson at the New Balance Nationals. Wilson is also in the field tomorrow.
“I think [that I’m in good shape]. I’m really excited to run a fast 800. I’m just excited to see what I can do. I’ve run some very fast 800s but I think tactically I’m still a little naive in the 800, so I hope to gain even more experience from this race,” said Cain, who added that she thought she ran 2:06 against Wilson as a freshman, a time she “definitely” will beat tomorrow.
One last thing about Cain. She got a lot of laughs from the press corps when she answered a question about what she would be if she weren’t a pro runner. Matthew Centrowitz had said he’d be pro video game player and Will Claye said he’d be a clothes designer. Given those wild responses, Cain said she’d like to work in the medical research field. “I feel kind of lame [for saying that], but I’m saving lives,” said Cain.
4) Lawi Lalang Says He (and Bernard Lagat) are In Good Shape
After the main press conference was over, I caught up with Lawi Lalang for a one-on-one. Before doing the interview, I broke press protocol and said that as a fan, I had to think him for being a part of the incredible men’s 5000 final at the 2014 NCAA outdoor meet. Just thinking about that race still gives me chills.
Changing back to journalism mode, Lalang told me that he’s in good shape as is 40-year-old Bernard Lagat, despite his sub-par showing in his one cross country race this year. They’ve been on pretty much the same schedule. As for new training mate Sam Chelanga, who is no longer training with American Ben True in New Hampshire, Lalang revealed that he didn’t really know too much as he rarely runs with Chelanga on easy days because the two of them will just hammer.
5) Laura Roesler Is Out
The best race on paper — the women’s 800 — lost some star power on Friday afternoon when 2014 NCAA indoor/outdoor champion Laura Roesler announced on Twitter that she won’t be running an indoor season this year (she had also been scheduled to run the 1000 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston next weekend).
The race should still be entertaining, with the world’s fastest woman in 2014 (U.S. indoor/outdoor champion Ajee Wilson), Cain and 2013 NCAA indoor/outdoor champion Natoya Goule of Clemson/Jamaica, though it’s a bit disappointing we won’t get to see Roesler, who won The Bowerman last month. It’s unclear why Roesler chose to skip these races, as the closest thing she gave to a reason was that she’s “further preparing for the upcoming outdoor season.”
6) More Interviews/ Welcome To The Big Time, Columbia and Princeton Anchors
A number of college teams are in the world record attempt DMR race. It’s worth noting that both Columbia and Princeton will be anchored by true freshman, Spencer Haik for Columbia and Garrett O’Toole for Princeton. That’s got to be a little nerve-wracking but big-time talent can help calm those nerves. O’Toole ran 4:01 in HS while Haik ran 4:05 in HS and a 2:21.04 1000 last week. One last thing about O’Toole for Cowboys lovers/haters. His uncle is Cowboys coach (and Princeton alum) Jason Garrett.
Below you will find an interview with the mid-d legs of the Columbia DMR (Brendon Fish (1200), Connor Claflin (800) and Spencer Haik (1600)).
Last but not least, an interview with the 800 leg of Team USA, Eric Sowinski, who wants his American record in the 600 back (Cas Loxsom beat it last week)
More: *Press Conference Photo Gallery
*MB: Galen Rupp’s double is off- Rupp will run 2 mile only at Armory. Lots of info from press conference.
*Discuss the meet in our fan forum. We’ve started a new thing this week with a thread devoted to the meet of the week: MB: This Sat Armory Track Invite: USA Men’s DMR WR Attempt, Wilson v Cain v Roesler @800, Rupp Double- 2 Mile WR Attempt Off.