Centro wins USATF 1500m title in style
EUGENE – Matthew Centrowitz made his point with a flourish.
Confident, tough-minded and a little angry, the Nike Oregon Project runner seized control of the men’s 1,500-meter final with a decisive move at the 600-meter mark and won going away Saturday at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Centrowitz put himself out of the reach of hard kickers Robby Andrews and Leo Manzano and won in 3 minutes, 37.25 seconds.
Andrews came flying from behind on the home straight to take second place in the final few steps, catching both Manzano and Oregon Track Club Elite’s Ben Blankenship just before line on a steamy afternoon before a crowd 10,116.
Andrews’ second-place time was 3:38.75. Manzano, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, finished third in 3:38.76.
They will join Centrowitz on the U.S. team to this year’s World Outdoor Championships in Beijing, assuming they equal or better the World Championships standard of 3:36.20.
Neither has yet achieved the standard within the current qualifying window.
Blankenship, an oh-so-close fourth in 3:38.78, has the standard. He would make the U.S team if either Andrews or Manzano fail to get it.
Two-time Olympian Andrew Wheating, who couldn’t quite kick back into contention, finished fifth in 3:39.47.
Nobody was going to catch Centrowitz, who was primed for this thing from the start.
Before the start, really.
“Coming into this U.S. championships, winning wasn’t good enough,” Centrowitz said. “I wanted to really dominate the field.
“I said this a couple times to close friends and teammates, coming into the home stretch I wanted the race to be won already. That was the main goal coming in, and I think I did that.”
Centrowitz had lots of motivation. For starters, he wanted to send a message to the guys he will see on the track in Beijing.
The former University of Oregon star was third in the 2011 World Outdoor Championship, fourth in the 2012 Olympic final and second in the 2013 World Championships.
He has done everything but bring back a gold medal.
“The way I competed today shows I’m very fit, and I’m ready to run with them,” he said, “fast, slow or the kind of (tactical) race like today.”
He certainly separated himself from the field here, because once he made his move, he never backed off.
“He went from zero to 100, really fast,” Wheating said. “That’s the kind of talent he has. … Matt Centrowitz is in a class of his own.”