Eighth Is Enough (For Now)
Running his first race in nearly four months, Matthew Centrowitz, once thought to be a contender for a medal in this summer’s Olympic Games, finished eighth in the International Men’s Mile at the Prefontaine Classic on a rainy, humid Friday night here at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Centrowitz, who passed up his senior season at the nearby University of Oregon to turn professional, was nevertheless pleased with the result — he ran a respectable 3:57.44 — because it was his first race since suffering a knee injury this spring.
“He was very happy afterward,” said Matt Centrowitz, Matthew’s father, by phone. “He’s only been back training for five weeks. He was very pleased with tonight’s race, and went out right after to do a workout.”
The 22-year-old younger Centrowitz was the surprise bronze medalist in the World Championships 1,500 last summer and won this past season’s Millrose Games mile in the Armory in 3:53.92. Although he has had a minimal 2012 season — this was his outdoor debut, and his first race since placing seventh in the World Championships Indoor 1,500 in March — he has secured the Olympic “A” standard by virtue of running 3:34.46 in 2011.
The U.S. Olympic Trials selection meet begins here in Eugene in three weeks.
The race was won by James Kiplagat Magut of Kenya, in 3:54.16. The other American finishers included Russell Brown, second in 3:54; Jeff See, fourth in 3:55, and Alan Webb, 11th in 3:59.
Meanwhile, some of the Kenyan Olympic Trials were actually held here on Friday night. In an unusual move, 15 Kenyan men took the line to try to make that country’s Olympic team at 10,000 meters. Wilson Kiprop won the race in 27:01.98, the fastest time in the world this year. In all, six runners broke 27:10, and the crowd of some 8,000 fans, though utter strangers to these runners, generously chanted and cheered throughout the race.
Moments earlier, a heavily African women’s field also ran a 10,000, won by the Ethiopian star Tirunesh Dibaba, who ran 30:24.39, the fastest time in the world for 2012.
The evening began with a stunner when Jessica Cosby, on her first attempt, threw the hammer 243-5, breaking the seven-year-old American record by 13 inches. “You always plan to attack on the first throw,” Cosby said. “I was in a good rhythm. I’m really happy with the result.”
Alysia Montano made her seasonal 800 debut a good one, running 1:57.37, the second-fastest time in the world this year and two seconds ahead of Geena Gall, who ran a lifetime-best 1:59.28. LaTavia Thomas, of the NJ/NY TC, was sixth, in a solid 2:01.27.
The women’s 1,500 was won in an upset by Alice Schmidt in a PR 4:05.64, as she defeated many of her fellow top Americans, including Jenny Simpson, Shannon Rowbury and Anna Pierce.
“I felt comfortable,” said Schmidt, formerly an 800 specialist. “I kept fighting off surges,” said Schmidt, who held the lead the entire second half of the race, “so I just went for it.” She said she planned to run both the 800 and 1,500 at the U.S. Trials. “I’m gonna go for both,” she said confidently.
The Prefontaine meet concludes on Saturday afternoon.
NOTES: On the other side of the country, at an event called "Road to London" at Icahn Stadium in New York City, two local runners earned qualifiers for the adidas Grand Prix on June 9. Like the Pre Classic, the adidas GP is another Diamond League event. On the women's side, Kate Grace of NJ/NY TC won the 1,500-meter run in 4:10.57 to earn a spot… in the 5k! The former Yale star has always been an 800/1,500 runner, so it is unlikely she'd take to the track in an elite 5k field. But Trinidad & Tobago's Lalonde Gordon — who runs for Zenith Velocity out of Jersey City — tore off a 45.33 in the 400 meters and will have a shot at the Diamond Leaguers. And yet, perhaps the best run of the night came from Liam Boylan-Pett, the former Columbia star, who won the 800-meter run in 1:46.87. According to the IAAF website profile, that's more than a two-second personal best.