Men’s 1500 Semis: Timothy Cheruiyot, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Craig Engels and Scotland All Excel

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October 3, 2019

DOHA, Qatar —With all 26 participants in the men’s 1500 semifinals at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships having run the equivalent of at least 3:54 in the mile this year, including five in each semi  who had run the equivalent of 3:48, it would be no easy feat to make the final and the certainly proved to be the case tonight.

After the two semis were run, the two biggest medal favorites and the two best milers on the circuit this year – Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya and Jakob Ingebrigtsen – advanced with ease as auto qualifiers with Cheruiyot leading heat 1 from start to finish and Ingebritsen looking great in heat 2, save for the fact he once again was willing to risk being boxed in on the rail.

However, the semis weren’t as kind to six of the other guys who had all run 3:30-3:31 this year (equivalent to 3:48 in the mile or faster) as the 3rd (Ronald Musagala of Uganda), 4th (Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti), 5th (Filip Ingebritsen of Norway), 6th (Samuel Tefera of Ethiopia), 7th (Abdelaati Iguider of Morocco) and 9th seeds (Stewart McSweyn of Australia) were all eliminated.

The good news for American fans is they’ll have two medal chances in the final (Scotalnd will have 3 – see below) as US champ Craig Engels looked fantastic in auto qualifying in fourth in heat #1 in 3:36.69. US third placer Ben Blankenship wasn’t too far behind Engels as he was 6th in 3:36.98, when the top 5 auto qualified, but would end up being edged out for one of the two time qualifying spots by the 6th and 7th placers in heat #2.

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The first of those two time qualifiers was the Olympic champion, Mathew Centrowitz, who came up .08 short of final auto spot in 3:36.77 in the second straight tight heat as just .69 of a second separated 1st and 9th in the heat 2. In the first heat, just .47 separated 1st and 7th in heat #1.

Hardly anything separated the top finishers in each heat (here is heat 2).

*Heat by heat results

Seed Name Country PB SB Result
1 Timothy CHERUIYOT KEN 3:28.41 3:28.77 Q – Won heat 1 (3:36.53)
2 Jakob INGEBRIGTSEN NOR 3:30.16 3:30.16 Q – 3rd heat 2 (3:36.58)
3 Ronald MUSAGALA UGA 3:30.58 3:30.58 DNQ – 9th heat 2 (3:37.19)
4 Ayanleh SOULEIMAN DJI 3:29.58 3:30.66 DNQ – 11th heat 1 (3:38.35)
5 FilipINGEBRIGTSEN NOR 3:30.01 3:30.82 DNQ – 7th heat 1 (3:37.00)
6 SamuelTEFERA ETH 3:31.04i 3:31.04i DNQ – DNF heat 2
7 AbdelaatiIGUIDER MAR 3:28.79 3:31.64 DNQ – last in heat 2 (3:42.23)
8 TaoufikMAKHLOUFI ALG 3:28.75 3:31.77 Q – 2nd heat 1(3:36.69)
9 StewartMCSWEYN AUS 3:31.81 3:31.81 DNQ – 10th heat 1 (3:37.95)
10 MarcinLEWANDOWSKI POL 3:31.95 3:31.95 Q – Won heat 1 (3:36.50)
11 JoshKERR GBR 3:33.60 3:33.60 Q – 4th heat 2 (3:36.58)
12 RonaldKWEMOI KEN 3:28.81 3:33.99 Q – 2nd heat 2 (3:36.53)
13 CraigENGELS USA 3:34.04 3:34.04 4th heat #1 (3:36.69)
14 AlexisMIELLET FRA 3:34.23 3:34.23 DNQ – 8th heat 1 (3:37.39)
15 JakeWIGHTMAN GBR 3:33.96 3:34.40 q – 7th heat #2 (3:36.85)
16 KevinLÓPEZ ESP 3:34.83 3:34.83 10th heat 2 (3:37.56)
17 KalleBERGLUND SWE 3:34.89 3:34.89 Q – 5th heat 1 (3:36.72)
18 TeddeseLEMI ETH 3:35.09 3:35.09 DNQ – 12th heat 1 (3:38.79)
19 MatthewRAMSDEN AUS 3:35.85 3:35.85 8th heat 2 (3:37.16)
20 NeilGOURLEY GBR 3:35.95 3:35.95 Q – 3rd heat 1 (3:36.69)
21 BenBLANKENSHIP USA 3:34.26 3:36.22 DNQ – 6th heat 1 (3:36.98)
22 AmosBARTELSMEYER GER 3:36.29 3:36.29 DNQ – 11th heat 2 (3:37.74)
23 JesusGOMEZ ESP 3:36.40 3:36.40 DNQ – 13th heat 1 (3:40.29)
24 IsaacKIMELI BEL 3:36.51 3:36.96 DNQ – 9th heat 1 (3:37.50
25 YoussoufHISS BACHIR DJI 3:35.74 3:36.98 Q – 5th heat 2 (3:36.72)
26 MatthewCENTROWITZ USA 3:30.40 3:37.67 q – 6th heat 2 (3:36.77)

Quick Take: As crazy as some of these results were, the 1500 is playing out as expected in a slightly weird way

Coming into Worlds, our thought on the men’s 1500 was simple. Based on 2019 results, Timothy Cheruiyot and Jakob Ingebrigtsen deserved to be viewed heavy medal favorites with Timothy the clear #1 choice and Jakob the clear #2. After that, good luck picking a bronze medallist. And that still pretty much is the case. With such tiny margins separating everyone, we imagine nearly every guy in the final honestly deep down thinks they have a realistic medal chance.

Quick Take: Rule Britannia (or, more accurately, Rule Scotland)

For the first time in the history of the World Championships, Great Britain has three World Championship finalists in the men’s 1500. In fact, it’s the first time since the inaugural Worlds in 1983 that GB even has two.

More accurately, Scotland has three World Championship finalists as all three men — Jake Wightman, Josh Kerr, and Neil Gourley — hail from north of Hadrian’s Wall. Wightman and Kerr even ran for the same club growing up, Edinburgh AC.

Wightman used simple math — ahem, maths — to make the case for the first medal by a Brit in this event since Peter Elliott’s silver at the 1988 Olympics.

“We make up a quarter of the field, so there’s a good chance that one of us can get a medal or get close to it,” Wightman said.

Quick Take: Matthew Centrowitz thought he was out, wants a fast final

Centrowitz made his sixth World/Olympic final tonight, but for the first time, he had to rely on a time qualifier. And as he crossed the finish line, he thought his season was over.

“I wasn’t expecting to even qualify once I finished,” Centrowitz said.

Centrowitz did sneak in, grabbing the first of two time qualifiers from heat 2, but he really had to work for it and was just .21 of a second from going home. Centrowitz said it was “one of the worst tactical races I’ve run” and that “it worries me that I’m that sloppy right now.”

Asked to pinpoint one specific moment of sloppiness, Centrowitz responded quickly: “every moment.”

It may have been sloppy, but Centrowitz is in the final now and faces his biggest test of the season in Timothy Cheruiyot, who has been putting a beating on everyone all year long, including Centrowitz at the Pre Classic.

How does Centrowitz, who has won just one of his six career races against Cheruiyot (their first, at the 2015 Pre Classic), turn the tables on the noted front-runner?

“Gotta go with him. I’m not gonna sit back and expect him to come back.”

In fact, Centrowitz said he would favor a faster race than the one out there today — even though his greatest triumph at the 2016 Olympics was won in a leisurely 3:50.

“If anyone wants to say that I can only slow, well hopefully it’s fast on Sunday and I’ll show them,” Centrowitz said.

Quick take: Craig Engels makes all sorts of tactical mistakes, but makes final looking great

Engels looked great tonight, but said he made the three tactical mistakes his coach Pete Julian told him not to make: 1) not to let people around him 2) be in position with 500 to go and 3) don’t leave it to 250 to go.

Craig said maybe he should start slower at the beginning of the race so he can gauge where to be, as he tends to start fast and then get boxed in. “I thought being on Cheruiyot was a good move and then six guys went by me on the outside,” he said.

As for the final he said maybe him and Centro will work together and try and make it slow, but said everyone expected Cheruiyot to take it from a long way out and he thought the medals would go to the people in position to respond. Craig said he wouldn’t mind if it was a 3:32 race.

Craig was asked what the reaction was to his comments from yesterday towards Jenny Simpson in regards to Alberto Salazar’s anti-doping suspension. “My teammates are very happy I stuck up for the Oregon Project, but obviously there is some backlash from Jenny’s fans, but luckily I wasn’t on social media today or letsrun,” he said.

After the conversation changed subjects, Craig then later very professionally brought Jenny back up to try and temper the situation saying, “I’m sure if we talked in person there would be a little clarification.”

That was after he joked he and Jenny needed to settle it with a conversation in an elevator.

Discuss: No shots fired by Craig Engels towards Jenny Simpson on Friday: “I wasn’t on social media today or letsrun.”

Quick Take: Ben Blankenship: “I think I ran a good race. It just wasn’t enough.”

Blankenship missed out on the final by inches — he was just .13 out of qualifying — and had no major regrets afterwards. Making a World Championship final is not easy, and in a race where 2nd through 7th was separated by just .31 of a second, there was very little to separate the field.

“I just got beat today,” Blankenship said. “Twelve people were better than me today. That’s kind of how it happens. I asked for a hard heat, I got it, just didn’t come up with it.”

Had the second heat gone out just a second slower, Blankenship would probably be in the final now. But sometimes, those are the breaks in the 1500.

Filip Ingebrigtsen says this was his most consistent season, makes no excuses

At the last World Champs, Filip Ingebrigtsen left with the bronze medal. He didn’t make the final tonight. He said despite that he was pleased with the season as he was more consistent. We asked why he dropped out of the 5,000 earlier in the Championships with less than half a mile to go and he said he had a side stitch but felt fine tonight and actually really good in warm-ups.

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