2021 Sound Running Day 2 Recap: Centro Sends a Message with 3:35 Victory; Bromell (9.92) Keeps Rolling
May 15, 2021
One of the biggest questions heading into day 2 of the Sound Running Track Meet in Irvine, Calif., is whether Olympic 1500-meter champion Matthew Centrowitz would be able to show improvement after a rocky start to his 2021 campaign.
The answer was a resounding yes, as Centrowitz took a commanding victory in the men’s 1500 meters in 3:35.26 to send a message to the rest of the US 1500 corps. The other big result came in the men’s 100m, as Trayvon Bromell made it a perfect three-for-three in 100m finals this year, blowing away the field with a time of 9.92 to win by .30. Bromell now owns two of the three fastest times in the world this year.
In other action, Brits swept the women’s 800 and 1500, with Laura Muir (1:58.71) and the surprising Katie Snowden (4:02.98) earning victories. Full recap of the afternoon session and analysis appear below.
(Note, we don’t recap the Friday or Saturday evening distance action – (Josette Norris top American in 5k with 14:51 Sifan Hassan won the women’s 5k in 14:35 with Norris 2nd in 14:51 as Mo Ahmed won the men’s 5k in 13:18).
Men’s 1500: Matthew Centrowitz Makes a Statement
Few athletes know how to time their peak better than Matthew Centrowitz. This year, at age 31, and after a pair of unimpressive performances (1:50 for 800, 3:40 for 1500) in his first two races of 2021, there was some question whether Centrowitz could once again summon the performance level required to make his eighth straight US world/Olympic team.
Centrowitz silenced those doubters today, unfurling a dominant final 200 meters to win the 1500 meters in dominant fashion in 3:35.26. As he crossed the finish line, he closed his eyes and spread his arms, as if to say, what did you expect?
— LetsRun.com (@letsrundotcom) May 15, 2021
There was a ton of shoving off the line at the start of this one in the middle of the track, with Eric Avila, Moh Ahmed, and Henry Wynne all pushing against each other to establish position. Ultimately, Ahmed lost his balance and went down around 35 meters into the race, grabbing the shoulder of Avila’s singlet as he fell and dragging Avila to the ground (Wynne managed to stay on his feet after hurdling Avila).
Avila immediately turned and threw up his arm, appealing to the starter to fire the gun and bring the field back, but his appeal was unsuccessful and the race continued.
Not much happened tactically for the first two laps as the Oregon Track Club’s Jake Heyward settled in behind the rabbit, followed by Johnny Gregorek and Centrowitz, who as usual was well-positioned in third. It was the same order at 800 (1:56) and the bell (2:40). It was as if the rest of the field was just waiting for Centro to spring his move.
He did just that with 200 go, gliding by Heyward into the lead, and though his form remained unchanged, Centrowitz’ acceleration was obvious. 100 meters later, coming off the final turn, Centrowitz looked back to find himself with a five-meter lead. The race was, for all intents and purposes, over at that point.
Heyward closed well over the final 100 to re-pass Gregorek and edge out fellow Brit Marc Scott for second in a pb of 3:36.28, but he couldn’t touch Centrowitz, who cruised home thanks to final 200 of right around 26-flat.
Quick Take: Matthew Centrowitz is back, and at this point, you’d be foolish to bet against him making a third Olympic team
Even after a pair of uneven results to open 2021, the LetsRun brain trust still backed Centro to make this year’s US Olympic team. Today, he showed the world why. Throughout his career, Centrowitz has endured bouts with injury and subpar races, but he always puts it together when it counts. With the Olympic Trials just 34 days away, the races are going to start counting very soon, and Centrowitz showed that he will be a force to reckon with when they do.
It had been a while — his 3:32 in the 2019 World Championship final — since Centrowitz had posted a world-class performance at any distance, and it was clear in the moments after the race that his result today was a major confidence booster. After throwing his arms wide across the line, he pumped both fists and, after congratulating some of the other racers, broke into a wide smile on his walk toward the infield to be interviewed by former Oregon teammate Andy Wheating.
Based on what he showed today, Centrowitz appears fit enough to make the US Olympic team and earn a shot at defending his Olympic title in Tokyo. But a runner as talented as Matthew Centrowitz thinks bigger than just making teams.
“Timing couldn’t be any better right now,” Centrowitz told Wheating on the ESPN broadcast. “I had some injuries last year so the Olympics being postponed obviously was a blessing in disguise. Feel like I’m coming around in good form right now…I’ve still got to be a lot better than I was today, and that’s what I plan on doing the next few weeks.”
MB: CENTRO IS BACK
Quick Thought: The state of the US men’s 1500 right now: Centro and the kids
With less than five weeks until the Trials, four Americans have broken 3:36 in 2021. Three of them are collegians. The other is Matthew Centrowitz.
Centrowitz is very aware of his status as one of the veterans of the event. When Wheating brought up Centro’s age during the interview, Centro jokingly did the throat-cut gesture to quiet him on the subject. After all, at the last Olympic Trials, Wheating was one of the guys Centrowitz had to beat out to make the team, and now he’s taking questions from him.
“All these young kids coming up, it’s sad not seeing familiar faces such as yourself on the starting line,” Centrowitz told Wheating. “They’re like born in the 2000s man, this new millennium. So it’s humbling. It’s also great to see all these fast young guys in college and fresh out of college just kind of inspire some of the older guys to get moving and stay on our A game too.”
It would not be a surprise to see some combination of Nuguse/Centrowitz/Teare/Hocker as this summer’s Olympic team (for the record, only Hocker was born in the 2000’s; Nuguse and Teare were both born in 1999). It’s not just that the collegians have been running well; it’s that the US professional 1500 corps has been largely uninspiring, and that continued today (outside of Centrowitz). The second American finisher was Grant Fisher in 4th — and he’s a 5k/10k guy. Josh Thompson was the next American in fifth in 3:37.17, with Johnny Gregorek close behind in 3:37.24. They will need to improve if they are to be competitive at the Trials.
Quick Thought: Why in the world was this race not restarted?
The starter did a very poor job in this one. The gun was fired almost as soon as the runners came to the line, and that may have contributed to some of the early bumping and jostling. But the big mistake was not firing the gun to restart the race once Moh Ahmed and Eric Avila went down within the first 50 meters.
While all three of Ahmed, Avila, and Henry Wynne were pushing each other, Ahmed completely torpedoed Avila’s race by grabbing him and pulling him to the track once he realized he was going down.
When there is a fall this early in the race, the starter is supposed to fire the gun and reset the field. Why the starter here did not do that is beyond us, especially considering the starter did fire the gun and call for a restart in the 1500 after a timing error.
Women’s 1500: Unheralded Katie Snowden Wins As a Bunch of Americans Struggle
Coming off the final turn of the women’s 1500 meters, eight women were still in contention for the win but in the end, the comfortable winner was a surprise, 27-year-old Katie Snowden of Great Britain. Not only did Snowden get the win, she also got a big pb of 4:02.98 (Snowden’s previous pb of 4:05.29 dated to 2017). 2016 Olympic 800 finalist Kate Grace of the US was second in 4:03.54 with 4:00 1500 runner Jessica Hull of Australia third in 4:04.16.
Quick Thought: We thought this race would tell us who has the inside track to the 3rd Olympic spot at USAs, but it did not
If one assumes that Elle Purrier and Shelby Houlihan take 2 of the 3 spots in the 1500 for Team USA at the Trials (although the loger Houlihan goes without racing, the more doubts we start to have about her), the big question is who gets third. We thought we’d find out who was the leading contender today but the women we expected to be up there were not.
2019 NCAA champ Sinclaire Johnson, who broke 2:00 in the 800 for the first time last week, was terrible today. In the back throughout the race, she finished last in 4:12.76. Cory McGee, who made the US team in 2013, ran just 4:10.43. Former US record holder Shannon Rowbury ran just 4:09.70 so we expect her to go for the 5000.
Dani Jones and Heather McLean did run pretty well as both broke the 4:05 barrier for the first time (Jones ran 4:04.86 and McLean ran 4:04.85) but they need to be much fitter than that to make the team as Shannon Osika ran 4:00 last week.
The biggest beneficiary from today’s race may have been someone not even in it — Jenny Simpson. Nothing any of these women did today will scare her. As for the top American today, Kate Grace, we assume after today she’ll probably do the 1500/800 double at USAs as they don’t overlap. Her Olympic medal chances are much higher in the 800 but it’s a harder team to make.
Women’s 800: Laura Muir Blasts the Last 200
Laura Muir destroyed the field over the final 200 (we timed her in an unofficial 29.4) to get the win in the women’s 800 in 1:58.71 as for the second weekend in a row she ran the 800 and for the second weekend in a row she ran 1:58.
“I’m really happy with it,” said Muir, who said she was focused on sitting in the pack and racing a “little bit more strategically.” “I felt really strong. I was really pleased.”
The second placer also was really happy. Two weeks ago, the Atlanta Track Club’s Allie Wilson had a 2:02.56 pb that dated to 2019 when she was 5th at NCAAs. Last week, she ran 2:00.01 and now she’s a member of the sub-2 club as she ran 1:59.68.
Britain’s Adelle Tracy (1:59.84) as well as Hanna Green (1:59.88) also broke 2:00, as did Elle Purrier (1:59.99). This was Green’s 2021 outdoor opener at 800.
Two women had bad races in this one as two-time NCAA runner-up Nia Akins was next to last in 2:03.71 and Brenda Martinez, who broke 2:00 last week, was last in 2:04.38.
Quick Thought: Let this serve as a reminder as to how hard it will be to medal in the 1500 this year
After Elle Purrier’s 3:58 win last week, we’re sure US fans are hoping she can medal in Tokyo. Well Laura Muir has never medalled on the global stage outdoors and she was a class above Purrier today.
Men’s 800: Tonatiu Lopez of Mexico Cruises
1:43 man Michael Saruni, who has been in good form this year, was a late scratch after the results of his pre-meet COVID test did not come back in time for him to be cleared to run. Without Saruni, this one was wide open and remained the case after 400 meters, as umen with 100 to go, took the lead with 40m remaining and separated to win in 1:46.59. Langford held on for second in 1:47.00 as the Brooks Beasts’ Brannon Kidder got up for third in 1:47.70.
Quick Thought: Lopez’ terrific season continues
Mexico has never had an Olympic finalist in the men’s 800 meters. Heck, they haven’t even had an Olympian in the event since 1988. But Tonatiu Lopez, only one of two Mexicans ever to break 1:46, has been on fire in 2021, winning three of his four races (the only loss came to Isaiah Harris at the Texas Qualifier in February) and setting a national record of 1:44.40 earlier this month at the Kansas City Qualifier.
Lopez will definitely be in Tokyo for the Olympics. The only question is how far he goes. Based on the smoothness with which he eased by Langford in the home straight, he should be able to make it more than one round — at least.
Men’s 100: Trayvon Bromell Is the Olympic Favorite
Trayvon Bromell, who up until COVID-19 hit, had gone nearly four years without going sub-10, is now going sub-10 with regularity as for the second straight race he destroyed the field and went sub-10, this time winning in 9.92 on a day when the temps were in the 60s. Chris Royster was a well-beaten second in 10.22.
That makes Trayvon Bromell the Olympic 100 favorite.
“I’m just trying to do what God wants me to do — just work hard day in and day out,” said Bromell. “My teammates, we motivate each other and just the work ethic the last few weeks has been [at a] crazy high level. This week has been a real hard week for me in terms of training so for me to come out here and run these kind of times, I know we are moving in the right direction towards Trials.”
Bromell was asked how he gets away from the pressures of track and he answered that he doesn’t.
“I can’t. I had to realize God has a purpose for me. I can’t let off. I can’t stop thinking about what he wants me to do. Even before the race, I’m just praying, keep me humble, keep me motivated, keep me driven to keep pursuing his purpose.”
Women’s 100: Neita Wins
British Olympian Daryll Neita ran down training partner Hannah Cunliffe to get the win in 11.12 to Cunliffe’s 11.20.
Men’s 110 Hurdles: McLeod Runs 13.11
Reigning Olympic champ Omar McLeod picked up a comfortable win in the men’s 110 hurdles in a season’s best 13.11 (+1.4 m/s) as Devon Allen, the 2016 US Olympic Trials champ, was second in 13.26 with 2019 US champ Daniel Roberts third in 13.30.
2012 Olympic champ Aries Merritt‘s days as a hurdle force appear to be over. The kidney transplant recipient, who is now 35, only ran 13.90, which means he’s failed to break 13.9 in both of his meets this year.
Women’s 100 Hurdles: Brittany Anderson PRs
20-year-old Brittany Anderson of Jamaica, the 2017 World Youth champ and 2018 World Junior silver medallist, won the women’s 100 hurdles in a personal best of 12.69 (previous pb of 12.71). Devynne Charlton, who set a Bahamas national record of 12.61 last week, was second in 12.74.
Women’s 400: Ellis Wins
Kendall Ellis was the dominant winner of the women’s 400 in 50.30, a seasonal best for the 49.99 woman.
Women’s 400 Hurdles: Rhonda Whyte Wins
30-year-old Rhonda Whyte of Jamaica, who has made the last two World Championship teams but is looking for her first Olympic spot, got the dominant win in 55.11. 2016 Olympian Leah Nugent also of Jamaica was 2nd in 56.12.
2012 Olympic long jump champ Brittney Reese won the women’s long jump with a 6.80m leap (22′ 3¾”) as Payton Otterdahl won the men’s shot with a 21.53m (70′ 7¾”)
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