WTW: Centrowitz Isn’t Done, Buchalski and Sisson Break 15, Jakob Ingebrigtsen Avoids The DQ and Patryk Dobek Picks Up The 800
The Week That Was in Running, March 1 – 7, 2021
By Robert Johnson
March 9, 2021
The US Sub-15 List Is 23 Deep/The US Sub-13:00 List Stays 9 Deep
The sub-15:00 US women’s 5,000m list gained two new entrants last week as both Emily Sisson and Allie Buchalski broke 15:00 for the first time in their careers at the Sound Running Invite in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., on Saturday. New Balance’s Sisson lowered her pb from 15:02.10 to 14:55.82 to get the win while the Brooks Beasts’ Buchalski, the 2018 NCAA 5000 runner up for Furman, had the biggest pb of the night as she went from 15:22.29 to 14:57.54 to place second.
That means the all-time list of sub-15 women is up to 23 for the US (Vanessa Fraser did it indoors and isn’t listed at the link above).
Behind them, Weini Kelati (Eritrea) also broke 15:00 (14:58.24, previous pb of 15:13.12) as Alicia Monson (15:07.65, previous pb of 15:14.71) and Gwen Jorgensen (15:08.28, previous pb of 15:10.98) also picked up Olympic qualifiers.
Two American men came somewhat close to sub-13:00 last week. Time-wise, the closest to sub-13 was the Bowerman Track Club’s Grant Fisher, who ran 13:02.53 in California. But in reality, the only American that gave sub-13:00 a scare was the Army’s Emmanuel Bor who ran 13:05.60 at the FireFly Recovery 5,000m at the spectacular new Virginia Beach indoor facility on Thursday.
How was Bor the only one to give it a scare when he ran slower than Fisher? Because Bor blew up at the end whereas Fisher had a big kick.
Check out their split times with 800 meters remaining.
Emmanuel Bor’s 4200m split: 10:56.16
Grant Fisher’s 4200m split: 11:05.51
Watching Fisher close so fast made me think that Bor was right when he said after his 13:05 that he wished he’d gone out a little slower through 3k — 7:52 versus 7:48. When he goes for the 10,000 Olympic qualifier next week, he would be best served by setting the pacing lights at a slower pace for the first 5000 before picking it up.
No, Matthew Centrowitz Isn’t Done
After Olympic 1500 champion Matthew Centrowitz finally made his delayed 2021 opener with a disappointing 3:40.31 showing at the Sound Running Invite last weekend, some fans were quick to write him off: MB: Centro is DONE – Matthew Centrowitz won’t be in Tokyo.
Discount Centro at your own peril.
3:40 certainly isn’t a good time, but the reality is Centro was running up front early, he just faded the last lap (59.74). Do you people not realize how talented the guy is?
In 2018, Centrowitz opened up domestically in the US with nearly the same time — 3:40.74 — for a 6th place showing at Stanford (granted, the winning time in that race was 3:39 vs. 3:35 at the Sound Running Invite). But that race wasn’t in early March — it was on May 3. 51 days later, Centrowitz was the US champion. And 27 days after that, he was running 3:31 in Monaco. So in 2018, 78 days after running 3:40, Centrowitz ran 3:31.
This year, there are 113 days between last Saturday and the final of the men’s 1500 at the US Olympic Trials. And another 41 days until the Olympic final.
European Indoors — Jakob Ingebrigtsen Avoids A DQ (Yet Again)
The 2021 European Indoor Championships are in the books. After a little bit of controversy, Jakob Ingebrigtsen is the double 1500 and 3000 champ.
Having had a few days to process seeing Ingebrigtsen get DQ’d, then not get DQ’d in the 1500 final, I’ve come to two conclusions.
- The rule book needs a rework. If someone steps over the rail or nicks the line on the curve in a laned event, they should not automatically be DQ’d. Now if they end up passing people by cutting in, then go ahead and DQ them. But if they are inadvertently grazing the line in the steeplechase or stupidly stepping over the rail as they thought they had room to try to pass but then back off, then a DQ isn’t what the prescribed penalty should be. I like the fact Ingebrigtsen wasn’t DQd but don’t like how it came about it. What the officials are doing now is not good — it seems as if they are just ignoring what’s written in the rule book and deciding to use common sense. Instead, the rules should be changed. Fewer DQs is good, but we can’t have a system where sometimes a star is DQ’d (Ezekiel Kemboi in 2016) and sometimes they aren’t (Mo Farah in 2017, Ingebrigtsen in 2019 and 2021). It leads to too many questions of favoritism. Perhaps one idea would be to have a time penalty for rail/lane violations where no passing took place – a half-second or something might be a good deterrent for a 2017 Colleen Quigley type foul.
- The Ingebrigtsen brothers need to learn from their previous mistakes. Yes, sometimes the inside pass is there, but often times it’s not. This is far from the first time they’ve been caught trying to pass people on the inside when there isn’t ample space to do so. In case you forgot, Filip was DQ’d for exactly this infraction two years ago at European indoors. At 2019 Worlds, Jakob took at least three steps in the infield with 200 meters left in the 5000 prelims but his DQ was overturned. It’s not clear to me that Jakob understands the reason why he keeps stepping on the infield is he keeps trying to pass people on the inside when there isn’t enough room to do so. After Europeans, Jakob said to Athletics Weekly, “The rules are on my side. There is a paragraph saying if you’re pushed to the inside of the curb and it’s not your fault, it’s okay.” If the Ingebrigtsens are going to go to finishing school on how to run a race without stepping over the inside rail, they probably should also include some lessons on how not to hit/shove runners. Filip did this at Worlds last year and Jakob did this at Euros this year (See below)
The Most Remarkable Story From Europeans – Patryk Dobek Moves Up To The 800
Well at the European Indoor Championships, something remarkable happened. Poland’s Patryk Dobek — the former 400 hurdler who as of one month ago had never run an 800-meter race in his life — ran the 800 and did quite well. In case you haven’t seen the results, I don’t want to ruin it for you. Just watch the video below.
One thing I’m wondering: is Dobek the first guy in world history to run 1:46 in the third 800 competition of his life?
Update: We have learned that Dobek has actually raced one 800 prior to this season as a kid. According to this Polish database, he ran 2:08 at age 15 in 2009.
NCAA fans, did you realize that former Washington runner Amy-Eloise Markovc (née Neale), now of the Reebok Boston Track Club, won gold for Britain in the 3000 in 8:46.43? Pretty impressive especially considering she was only 7th at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix 2 mile earlier this year, but she earned the right to represent her country and took advantage with the race of her life.
The 2021 NCAA XC Field Is Set
With no NCAA regional meets this year, the 2021 NCAA field was selected by committee last week. Were there any big omissions? In general, I’d say the field this year looks pretty much like it does when there are regional meets followed by a formula picking the at-large teams — all but three or four of the top teams that deserve to be at NCAAs will be there.
I took a look at the final coaches’ poll and compared it to the NCAA selections.
In terms of the men’s rankings, only three of the top 31 teams weren’t selected (the poll technically only ranks 30 but I just kept ranking the teams based on how many votes they received): #16 Oregon, #27 Michigan, and #29 Texas. They were replaced by the teams ranked 32-33-34 — Furman, Villanova, and Duke.
Some context on the three ranked teams that missed out. Michigan was not allowed to race Big 10s because of a COVID outbreak in its athletic department and as a result only ran one XC race all year, the FSU Winter XC Last Chance on March 5. That race wound up as a de facto playoff race as Michigan lost to Syracuse (25th in the final coaches’ poll and very much a bubble team after finishing 6th at ACCs). Had Michigan run at Big 10s or beaten Syracuse at FSU, they would likely have been in the field.
As for Oregon and Texas, LetsRun has learned from a member of the committee that two schools did not declare for the meet prior to the selection process — meaning they preemptively declined their spots at NCAA XC. Both head coaches of those programs — Robert Johnson and Edrick Floreal — confirmed they made the decision to go all-in on the NCAA Indoor Championships this season, and while neither specifically confirmed they did not declare for NCAA XC, it seems fairly obvious that is what happened.
For the women, it was the same as only three of the top 31 ranked women’s teams didn’t make it: #25 Connecticut, #29 Ohio State, and #29 Texas (Ohio State and Texas tied in the final poll). They were replaced by #32 North Carolina, #42 Tulsa and #44 Liberty.
It’s worth pointing out that the Furman men and women both got into NCAAs even though they haven’t run a cross country meet since November 21. Both Furman squads won the Southern Conference meet that day — the NCAA selection committee said that a team’s conference championship performance would be its #1 criteria for selection — and didn’t race again. In fact, they didn’t race before that. That was their only meet of the 2020-21 season.
When the gun is fired at NCAAs on Monday, 114 days will have passed since Furman’s last cross country meet.
Another cross country musing: it blows my mind that the Oregon women weren’t able to field a full team at Pac-12s. Yes, I know they are focused on track this year, but they only had two distance runners qualify for NCAAs (plus a DMR) — and one of those two, Hannah Reinhardt, doesn’t even have cross country eligibility. Of course, with a 13-person XC roster, there isn’t a lot of room for error, but given the fact that former Oregon coach Tom Heinonen runs a club team at UO, it seems that Oregon should have been able to call up the reinforcements. Would the basketball team ever play just four players? No, they’d get someone who played high school basketball to fill in. Yes, 2021 is an unusual year, but if Oregon, of all schools, isn’t going to bother to record a team score in cross country, then why should other schools with way less money and way less of a tradition take the sport seriously?
It’s worth noting that the Oregon men barely fielded a team as well as they only had five finishers (their XC roster is 19 deep).
College Sports Info Departments, We Deserve Better
Anyone else sick and tired of sports information departments putting out “fake news”? For nearly a decade, we’ve been pointing out that what they write isn’t actually fake but it’s often so misleading or purposely incomplete that it might as well be fake.
One of the bigger stories from last week’s NCAA conference XC action was the 20-year win streak of the William & Mary men at the Colonial Athletics Association conference championships getting snapped by the Northeastern men, who won their first title. Guess how that result was reported on the William & Mary website?
Here is how they covered it:
The William & Mary men’s cross country wrapped up the abbreviated 2021 winter season on Friday morning, racing to a second-place finish at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships. That extends a 33-year streak of the Tribe finishing either first or second at the league meet, dating back to the 1988 championship event.
The Oregon Ducks’ Pac-12 recap did not mention that the Oregon women failed to record a team score for the first time in program history, nor did it provide any explanation for why they only ran four runners.
Their release simply said:
The Women of Oregon had four runners in the field and were led by a career-high conference finish by O’Shea.
If the football team only played 10 players, you can sure bet they’d provide some sort of explanation, “COVID-19 protocols/injuries prevented Oregon from suiting up a full team.”
The Army men won their fourth straight Patriot League title on Friday. Their SID did a great job of giving press to the accomplishment as their article included more than 1,200 words from head coach Mike Smith (who was on the LRC podcast last fall). However, one key piece of info was missing from their super long recap. Nowhere was it mentioned that Army caught a huge break in that its arch-rival and conference favorite — Navy, who beat Army head-to-head in October — was prevented from running at the meet at the last minute due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
I’m not expecting Army to totally discredit their own win, but it would be nice to see some transparency, “We caught a huge break with Navy having to sit this one out, but….”
SIDs, don’t get mad. We’ve been pointing out criticisms like this for nearly a decade, even at our own alma maters.
Jordan Hasay Opens Up In 2021
When a 2:20:51 marathoner runs 74 minutes in a half marathon, it’s certainly noting to get excited about. And that’s what Jordan Hasay did over the weekend at The Woodlands Half Marathon in Texas as she clocked 74:10.
What struck me about the result is that she seems stuck in the 74-minute range.
In November, she ran 74:27 at a small half marathon in Oregon. Then during the Valencia Marathon in December, she split 74:23 for the first half en route to a 2:33:51. And now she’s run 74:10.
74 minutes is by no means jogging but it shouldn’t be hard for 2:20 marathoner.
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