WTW: Centro Shows Proof of Life, Coburn Is Out, Nico Keeps It Rolling & Meet the 15-Yr-Old US 800m Sensation

The Week That Was in Running, April 29 -May 5, 2024

Each week, we try to make the sport more fun to follow by putting the prior week’s action in perspective for you. We have a separate article this week on the World Relays: LRC 6 Things We Learned at the 2024 World Relays: Tebogo & Adeleke Impress, & Who Will Stop the US Men?

Can I just add that I’m thrilled World Athletics made the World Relays count as most of the Olympic relay qualifiers now come from the meet? I’ve always maintained we don’t need more meets — we need more meets that matter. That seems an awful lot like my idea to run the World Championships as part of the Diamond League in 2026: LRC WTW: My Simple Solution To Save The Sport of Track & Field. Let’s make it happen.

Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. You should come to LetsRun.com each and every day for the latest news, but if you miss a day, you can always go to our archive page. If you like our written weekly recap, you’ll love our weekly Track Talk Podcast as well.

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Emma Coburn is out of the 2024 Olympic Trials

Last week, three-time global medalist Emma Coburn revealed the heartbreaking news that she broke her ankle in a fall at the Suzhou Diamond League. She’s already had surgery but won’t be competing at the 2024 US Olympic Trials. So that means for the first time since 2013, one of the top two spots at the US championships won’t be taken by Coburn, who won eight straight US titles between 2014 and 2022 (there was no meet in 2020) and was second last year.

The injury to Coburn certainly opens things up for the 2024 US Olympic team. Last year at USAs, when Krissy Gear, Coburn, and Courtney Wayment all made the team by running under 9:15, there was only one woman within eight seconds of the third placer Wayment, and that was NCAA champ Olivia Markezich of Notre Dame.

The year before when Coburn, Wayment, and American record holder Courney Frerichs made the team by running under 9:17, no one was within eight seconds of Frerichs in third.

Here are the eight women who have run under 9:25 for the US in 2023 or 2024:

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Overall
/10
Comfort
/10
Cushioning
/10
Durability
/10
Appearance
/10
Value
/10

1. 9:11.41 Courtney Wayment 2023
2. 9:12.81 Krissy Gear 2023
3.  9:13.60 Emma Coburn 2023
4. 9:17.93 Olivia Markezich 2023
5. 9:19.59 Gabrielle Jennings 2024
6. 9:22.73 Marisa Howard 2023
7. 9:22.99 Madie Boreman 2023
8. 9:24.01 Kaylee Mitchell 2023

Not included on the list is the American record holder Frerichs, whose only race in 2024 was a 15:01 5,000 indoors in Boston on February 9. And keep an eye on collegians Lexy Halladay-Lowry (redshirting at BYU and ran 9:26 at Bryan Clay) and Gracie Hyde (9:27 at Bryan Clay, NCAA DII mile/3k champ for Adams State).

Frerichs, Gear, Wayment, Mitchell, and 2021 Olympian Val Constien are all racing the Pre Classic on May 25 so we’ll have a pretty good idea of the pecking order after that race.

More:  MB: Emma Coburn reveals she broke her ankle at Suzhou DL and already has had surgery and won’t compete at 2024 Olympic Trials

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Don’t count Matthew Centrowitz out just yet

While last week wasn’t a good one for the 33-year-old Coburn, it was a great one for the 34-year-old Matthew Centrowitz, the 2016 Olympic 1500 champion.

Centrowitz, who ran 3:38.88 in his outdoor opener at The TEN on March 16, ran much better on Saturday at Oxy as he ran 3:35.39 to place 3rd in a field that contained many Olympic hopefuls, including Nico Young (1st, 3:34.56), Colin Sahlman (2nd, 3:34.64), Abdihamid Nur (4th, 3:35.63), and Craig Engels  (5th, 3:36.11). It was Centro’s fastest time since running 3:33.69 in the Olympic semifinals in Tokyo nearly three years ago.

Watch the final 400 here:

While I emphatically declared in December that Centrowitz would not make the team, I must admit he’s got a shot now. The time he ran on Saturday is very similar to the time he ran in mid-May of 2021. On May 15, 2021, Centrowitz ran 3:35.26 at the Track Meet. Forty-three days later, he finished second at the Olympic Trials.

There are 51 days between Saturday’s race and the 2024 US Olympic Trials final. If Centrowitz’s fitness continues to improve at the same rate as it did between races #1 and #2, he’ll have a real shot. Consider this: 49 days before Saturday, Centrowitz only ran 3:38.88 for 1500. If he can improve his fitness by another 3.5 seconds between now and the Trials, he’d be in 3:31 shape and hard to rule out.

It should be noted however, that in 2021 when Centrowitz ran 3:35.26, he won the race by almost a full second. Also he was three years younger than he is now.

It also should be noted that Centrowitz doesn’t have the Olympic standard (3:33.50) and he’s nowhere close to getting in on World Ranking. Centrowitz is currently ranked #62 on the Road to Paris list with a five-race average of 1138 points (they only take 45 people). After this run, which was worth 1174 points, he’ll have a five-race average of 1157 and be ranked #58. To be ranked #45, you need a five-race average of 1186 points — and Centrowitz doesn’t have a single race that high.

“But he’s still going to race several times between now and the end of the Paris qualifying window.”

True. But he still needs to run fast and place highly in them if he doesn’t get the standard, and even then he’ll be cutting it close if he doesn’t get the standard.

Let’s assume Centrowitz runs the Bowerman Mile at Pre and runs 3:52.00 and places 12th (11 guys broke 3:50 last year but 3:52.00 would have placed you 8th in 2022 when it was in May and not serving as the Diamond League final). Then he places third in the US Olympic Trials in 3:36.00. He’d have a five-race average of 1195.4 points and likely be safe. But if he placed 13th at Pre and not 12th, and runs 3:52.11 and not 3:52.00, he’d be ranked #46.

How crazy would it be if a former Olympic champion finished top three at the Trials but didn’t get to go the Olympics? World Athletics really needs to do its quota re-allocation for all events — not just the marathon — for countries that hold trial races. Few things in our sport beat the drama of the US Olympic Trials.

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I have two other thoughts on the men’s 1500 at Oxy:

It was a great sign for 5,000 and 10,000 collegiate record holder Nico Young that he was able to win this 1500 race over so many milers. For most of his college career, Young didn’t have the close to win the big races. Now he’s outkicking the milers at their own game. Super impressive. It will be interesting to see what he opts for at NCAAs. Might he run just the 1500? Or try the 1500/5,000 double? We’ll find out this weekend if the 10,000 is even a consideration as his 26:52 collegiate record didn’t count as a regional qualifier. So unless he run as regional qualifying time at the Big Sky meet this weekend, we know he won’t be in the 10,000.

This race will cause many to pump the brakes a little bit on Colin Sahlman making the 2024 US Olympic team. Sahlman is running incredibly well in 2024, but his loss to Young reminds us that he was only 6th at NCAAs in the indoor mile. Speaking of Sahlman, he’s going to be the featured guest on this week’s Track Talk Podcast (available for download on Wednesday).

More: MB: Nico Young (3:34.56) Beats Sahlman (3:34.64), Centro (3:35.39), Nur (3:35.63) & Engels (3:36.11) in 1500 at Oxy
*LRC Colin Sahlman Podcast: “Don’t Put Limits on Yourself” – Olympic Trials, NCAAs on Tap for NAU Star

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Kick of The Week

Check out the final 200 meters of the Texas 5A 800m boys’ state final.

Hyping teen phenoms can be a dicey thing to do in running as runners are often at different stages of the physical maturation process, but the hype for 15-year-old Cooper Lutkenhaus of Texas seems justified. Last year, Lutkenhaus ran 48.70 and 1:53.59 in middle school and now he’s got the freshman national record of 1:49.84. That broke the record of 1:49.87 set by Brandon Miller in 2017. Miller has had a successful career since then — in 2022, as a 20-year-old, he won the NCAA indoor title for Texas A&M and made it to Worlds for Team USA.

Regardless of age, for a high schooler to negative-split a 1:49 800 (55.42 – 54.43) with a 25.5 final 200 is super impressive.

In other events this year, Lutkenhaus was 47th in the state XC meet (16:23.40) and has run 22.12 for 200, 47.33 for 400, and 4:31.12 for 1600.

More: MB: 15-yr old Cooper Lutkenhaus sets 9th grade national record, DESTROYS TX 5A state meet over final 200m – 1:49.84

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Leonard Korir is almost certainly going to the Olympics

The marathon qualification window for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games ended over the weekend and the good news for US fans is that no one who hadn’t already qualified picked up a qualifier. That means the USA’s Leonard Korir is still #72 on the Road to Paris list, and World Athletics will accept 80 Olympic men’s marathoners.

Actually, Korir is #74 on the Road to Paris list, but in the marathon spots are awarded to federations, not athletes, and American CJ Albertson is #72. Since Korir beat Albertson at the Olympic Trials, he will take Albertson’s spot at the Olympics. Now in the marathon, there might be a few universality spots given out to countries who don’t have any other Olympic athletes qualified in track & field, and those athletes would get priority over Albertson/Korir. But no one expects that number to be very high, so Korir appears to be safe.

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While we are talking about chasing Olympic qualification, a slew of Japanese runners are chasing the final Olympic 10,000 spots. Currently, Japanese athletes hold three of the final four Road to Paris ranking spots in the women’s 10,000 and the final two in the men’s 10,000. Who is ranked where changed a bit as the Japanese 10,000 champs were held on Friday with Rino Goshima (Shiseido) winning the women’s race in 30:53.31 and Jun Kasai (Asahi Kasei) winning the men’s race in 27:17.46.

Goshima is in line to get in on world ranking whereas Kasai is not. But hey, there’s still time to chase. According to Brett Larner, at least two of the Japanese in the race have already said they’ll be in Britain for the Night of the 10,000 PBs on May 18.

Maybe they should go for the triple crown of 10,000s and fly to the US and run this weekend’s Sound Running Track Fest.

That was a joke, but it appears a bunch of American women are going for the 30:40 standard (or at least trying to improve their world ranking) as former American marathon record holder Keira D’Amato is entered along with Emily Infeld and Elly Henes (who as of now has a ranking high enough to get in) and others.

But back to the Japanese 10,000 champs — can I give a shout-out to 19-year-old Kazuma Maeda? Despite having a 5,000 pb of just 13:46.71, he set an Asian U20 record of 27:21.52, meaning he set a 5,000 pb in both the first and second halves of the 10,000 as they ran a negative split.

*Japan Running News: Goshima and Kasai Win 10000 m National Titles, Maeda Breaks U20 Asian Record
*MB: Entries now being released for Sound Running’s Track Fest (5/11)

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Records are made to be broken…especially in the super shoe era

On Sunday morning, my college roommate picked me up and took me north to Princeton to catch the final day of the Ivy League/Heps championships. The host Tigers completed the triple crown (XC, indoor, outdoor titles) in dominant fashion on the men’s side in Jason Vigilante‘s first year as program director while the Penn women won a thriller, edging Princeton by half a point thanks to a come-from-behind win in the 4 x 400 (Video below. Ignore the commentating as the announcers got confused and had the wrong team winning. In-stadium announcer Mike Jay was on top of it and it was quite exciting in the stands).

Distance-wise, two-time NCAA champ Maia Ramsden of Harvard was the star of the show as she broke a pair of meet records held by two Ivy League legends on a great day for running fast in distance races (50s, drizzle, almost zero wind). First up, she broke 7-time NCAA champ Abbey D’Agostino‘s 11-year-old 1500 record of 4:11.94 by running 4:09.29. Then near the end of the meet, she broke former world cross country champ Lynn Jennings‘ 41-year-old 5,000 meet record of 16:10.93 by running 15:47.23 in a race where all six of the scorers broke Jennings’ mark.

In the men’s 5,000, NCAA cross country champion Graham Blanks of Harvard looked great in just his second race of 2024 as he set a meet record of 13:47.34 to win the men’s 5,000. The previous meet record of 13:53.74, set by Navy’s Ronnie Harris, had stood since 1987. The top five finishers on Sunday all ran faster than Harris’ time.

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