2015 Birmingham Recap: Matthew Centrowitz & Shannon Rowbury See Winning Streaks Come to an End
February 21, 2015
Mo Farah‘s world record in the 2-mile got the headlines at the 2015 Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham, but there were several other great mid-d distance races on the day, many of which featured top American pros.
Apart from Farah, it wasn’t a great day for the Nike Oregon Project as Matthew Centrowitz and Shannon Rowbury both suffered their first defeats of 2015 in the 1500 and mile, respectively. Jordan Hasay did set an indoor pb at 3000, running 8:50.21, but once again struggled over the final lap.
The Nike Oregon Track Club’s Ben Blankenship‘s breakthrough year continued with a 3:35.28 pb in the 1500, while Erik Sowinski just missed his indoor pb with a 1:46.92, though that was only good enough for fifth in the 800 meters.
Men’s 1500: Centrowitz Fizzles as Vincent Kibet Steals Win at the Line
This one went out really quickly as the rabbit Paul Goodall took the field through in 26.12 seconds for 200 and 55.87 for 400. At this point, Matthew Centrowitz was in seventh place with Ben Blankenship right behind them. They slowed to 58.89 for the next 400, but that still put the rabbit at 1:54.76 through 800. Centrowitz and Blankenship were content to set in the middle of the pack and get dragged to a fast time.
As the rabbit dropped off, Kenya’s Bethwell Birgen assumed the lead and led a pack of five through 1200 in 2:52.95. That’s where the racing began, Birgen trying desperately to hold off fellow Kenyans Vincent Kibet, Hillary Ngetich and Nixon Chepseba while American Ben Blankenship and two-time NCAA mile champ Lee Emanuel of Great Britain closed in on the leaders.
Coming off the final turn, it was still almost anyone’s race. It looked as if Birgen would hold on, but Kibet put in a big surge on the home stretch, gaining on Birgen with every step. Kibet wound up catching Birgen right at the line, as both were credited with a quick 3:34.91 time, Kibet getting the win. Birgen appeared to stick his arm out near the finish line to keep Kibet from passing; we’d need to see a more detailed replay, but it may have been a DQ-worthy offense if he impeded Kibet’s progress.
Blankenship moved up well and, despite getting bumped to the outside in the home-straight sprint, finished in a tie for fourth in 3:35.28 (yes ties happen not just in the Olympic trials), a big improvement on his 3:37.03 outdoor pb. Centrowitz ran uncharacteristically poorly over the final two laps and could not respond when the racing started. He wound up 10th in 3:40.80, by far his worst race of 2015.
|Men’s 1500 Results
1 Vincent KIBET KEN 3:34.91 PB
2 Bethwell BIRGEN KEN 3:34.91
3 Hillary NGETICH KEN 3:35.26 PB
4 Ben BLANKENSHIP USA 3:35.28 PB
4 Nixon CHEPSEBA KEN 3:35.28 SB
6 Lee EMANUEL GBR 3:35.66 PB
7 Pieter-Jan HANNESBEL 3:37.30 NR
8 Teshome DIRIRSA ETH 3:38.86 SB
9 Charlie GRICE GBR 3:39.44 PB
10 Matthew CENTROWITZ USA 3:40.80
11 Chris O’HARE GBR 3:47.65
Reuben BETT KEN DNF
Paul GOODALL GBR DNFSplits
400 Paul GOODALL GBR 55.87
800 Paul GOODALL GBR (58.89) 1:54.76
1200 Bethwell BIRGEN KEN (58.19) 2:52.95
Finish Vincent KIBET KEN (41.96) 3:34.91
Quick Take #1: Centrowitz comes back to earth
In our most recent weekly recap, we wrote that “everything averages out to be average.” What we meant is that, if someone makes a huge breakthrough or runs an incredibly fast time, there’s a good chance their next race won’t go as well. Centrowitz is a world-class miler so his success this year wasn’t exactly surprising, but his sub-par performance here wasn’t a total shock. This was Centrowitz’s fourth race in as many weeks, and putting together four straight great races is a difficult feat in this sport.
Quick Take #2: Ben Blankenship is the latest American to break through in the 1500
Blankenship has been superb this year, running 8:16.53 for two miles to beat Galen Rupp on January 31 and running a 3:53.13 mile pb in Boston the next week. On Wednesday, he became the first man to break 4:00 indoors on Irish soil with his 3:56.75 victory in Athlone and he followed that up three days later with a fantastic 3:35.28 today, the fastest indoor 1500 by an American since 2008 (most Americans run the mile rather than the 1500 indoors). Blankenship already got the World Championship qualifying standard two weeks ago with his 3:53.13 mile but now he’s done it in the 1500 as well.
The battle for the three spots on the U.S. 1500 team to Beijing is going to be fierce. Centrowitz has finished top-four at the last three global championships, Leo Manzano always runs well at USAs and Pat Casey was second last year and has established himself as one of the top milers in the U.S. Then there’s Will Leer, Nick Symmonds (moving up from the 800), and now Blankenship (maybe even Lopez Lomong, who ran the 1500 last year at USAs). Some very good guys are going to get left out.
Women’s 1500: Ethiopia’s Axumawit Embaye is Too Much For Shannon Rowbury To Handle
American Shannon Rowbury suffered her first loss of the season as 20-year old Ethiopian Axumawit Embaye , who won world indoor silver last year, got the win in a new British all-comers indoor record of 4:23.50 to Rowbury’s 4:24.12.
Rowbury was right on Embaye’s shoulder with 250 meter to go but couldn’t match Embaye over the final 200, which Embaye covered in roughly 30 flat. Rowbury didn’t give up and did start to come back on Embaye a little in the last 50 but the victory was never seriously in doubt.
Jordan Hasay helped rabbit this race, after racing the 3000, taking the field through the half in roughly 2:13.
Quick Take #1: There is no shame in Rowbury losing to Embaye. On January 31, Rowbury got American distance fans buzzing when she put up a 4:22.69 mile on the flat track at Camel City. Well we converted that time to 4:03.2 for 1500. Guess what? On January 31 in Germany, with much less fanfare, Embaye ran 4:02.92 for 1500 in Germany (in a losing effort to Sifan Hassan).
On the BBC One broadcast, Paula Radcliffe did wonder if Rowbury ran a little scared at the end of this one, after staggering home last week at Millrose, as she didn’t go right with Embaye at the bell, but did gain on her at the very end.
1 MILE – Women OFFICIAL RESULTS
1 Axumawit EMBAYE ETH 4:23.50 ACR
2 Shannon ROWBURY USA 4:24.12
3 Gudaf TSEGAY ETH 4:26.84 PB
4 Treniere MOSER USA 4:29.18
5 Aisha PRAUGHT USA 4:32.86 PB
6 Rachel SCHNEIDER USA 4:34.83
7 Melissa COURTNEY GBR 4:35.48 PB
8 Claire TARPLEE IRL 4:37.49 PB
9 Alison LEONARD GBR 4:38.37 PB
10 Sofie VAN ACCOM BEL 4:51.07 PB
Hannah ENGLAND GBR DNF
Jordan HASAY USA DNF
Adelle TRACEY GBR DNF
Women’s 3000: Olympic Steeple Silver Medalist Habiba Ghribi Kicks to Win Over Final 1k; Hasay Holds on For 3rd
Jordan Hasay tried to pull of the same feat she did in the 2-mile at last month’s Armory Track Invitational, sitting on the leader before kicking away for the win late. Unfortunately, this race more closely resembled last week’s Wanamaker Mile, where Hasay ran out of gas over the final lap.
At 2k, shortly after American Liz Costello stopped rabbiting, the race turned quickly turned into a 3 person affair. The pace then picked up after two 3 minute ks and at the bell it was still a 3 person race.
Hasay went backwards on the final lap and was well beaten. On the last lap, the leader, Olympic steeple silver medalist Habiba Ghribi, took off and Hasay had no response. The top 3 runners were all about 3-4 meters apart at the bell with Hasay in second but Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi would pass Hasay over the final lap. Ghribi took the victory in 8:46.61, just holding off Teferi, who crossed .23 seconds later. Hasay had to settle for an indoor 3000 pb of 8:50.21 in third (outdoor pb is 8:46.89) after a 33 high/34 flat last 200 (69.5ish last 400).
3000 METRES – Women OFFICIAL RESULTS
1 Habiba GHRIBI TUN 8:46.61 PB
1000 Liz COSTELLO USA 2:59.54
Quick Take #1: A solid performance by Jordan Hasay
The pace wasn’t quick over the first two kilometers (the leaders came through just over 6:00), and Hasay did well to respond to the pace when the race got going, closing in 2:50 for the final K. She didn’t quite have it over the final two laps, but it was still a solid race for Hasay, who will tackle the mile at USAs next week (and possibly double back for the 2-mile).
Men’s 800: Jeremiah Mutai Wins From The Front
22-year old Kenyan Jeremiah Mutai, a 2013 world championship team member, remained undefeated for 2014 as he won the men’s 800. Already a winner Dusseldorf (1;48.18), and Stockholm (1:47.40), Mutai was much better today as he won in an indoor pb of 1:45.93.
There wasn’t a lot of strategy in this one as the pace was hot from the get go (24.87 first 200, 51.72 400). Mutai was right on the rabbit and then in the lead all the way home. South African André Olivier, who was fourth at World Indoor last year, was second in 1:46.25 with 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Kitum moving up to get this best showing of the year in third (1:46.65). American Erik Sowinski was fifth in a seasonal best 1:46.92, just off his indoor pb of 1:46.84.
Sowinski probably could have run a little bit faster as he ran most of this one in the outside of lane 1 as he never seemed to get comfortable with his position (he was sixth most of the race) but there were few excuses in this one as it was fast throughout.
800 METRES – Men OFFICIAL RESULTS
1 Jeremiah MUTAI KEN 1:45.93 PB
2 Andre OLIVER RSA 1:46.25
3 Timothy KITUM KEN 1:46.69
4 Andreas ALMGREN SWE 1:46.88
5 Erik SOWINSKI USA 1:46.92 SB
6 Mark ENGLISH IRL 1:47.17 SB
7 Guy LEARMONTH GBR 1:47.38 PB
8 James BOWNESS GBR 1:47.59 PB
9 Mukhtar MOHAMMED GBR 1:47.69 SB
Bram SOM NED DNF
400 Bram SOM NED 51.72
Finish Jeremiah MUTAI KEN (54.21) 1:45.93
Women’s 800: World Leader Jenny Meadows Dominates
Jenny Meadows has been way better than everyone else in the world this year indoors. Her 1:59.21 seasonal best is .80 up on the next women and she was way better than everyone in this one as she won in 2:01.25 with American Charlene Lipsey, who was second at Millrose last week, second once again in 2:02.61.
800 METRES – Women OFFICIAL RESULTS
1 Jenny MEADOWS GBR 2:01.25
2 Charlene LIPSEY USA 2:02.61
3 Stina TROEST DEN 2:02.93 PB
4 Shelayna OSKAN-CLARKE GBR 2:02.96
5 Anita HINRIKSDOTTIR ISL 2:03.09
6 Lauren WALLACE USA 2:04.03
7 Megan KRUMPOCH USA 2:04.29 PB
Leah BARROW GBR DNF
400 Leah BARROW GBR 1:00.10
Finish Jenny MEADOWS GBR (1:01.15) 2:01.25