USATF Distance Classic — Centro Concentrates On Competing

His time wasn’t fast, but consummate racer Centrowitz was pleased with his 1500 win. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

Eagle Rock, California, May 17—As usual, the USATF Distance Classic at Occidental College provided SoCal fans with several top-notch performances. However, this year’s classic felt the sting of not having a world-wide major championship on the calendar, as the quality of the fields was somewhat diluted.

Many stars who had participated in previous editions passed to concentrate on the upcoming Prefontaine Classic and the remaining Diamond League meetings or chose to continue building for a late-season charge.

Nonetheless, the assembled fields provided exciting finishes to all who were in attendance with the chance for several Americans to nab a qualifying time to the Nationals.

The best race of the day came out of Section I of the men’s 1500, but the second grouping was also notable, even with a slower winning time.

With a lineup that included reigning USATF 10K champ Hassan Mead and ’18 outdoor mile leader John Gregorek, the first race profited from excellent pacemaking, as Harun Abda, who had placed 3rd in the 800 an hour prior, led Aussie Jordan Gusman, who came by 400m in 57.1, with Mead and Gregorek 2 places behind.

Gusman led Hoka’s Graham Crawford, Gregorek and Mead through the 800 in 1:56.8. By 1000m, the pacemakers were gone and it was up to Gregorek, Mead, Crawford and Gusman to make the race.

They got the bell at 2:40.89, with Gregorek leading Mead by a step. At 1200, Gregorek lengthened his lead over Mead, but Crawford and Gusman were still in the hunt. Gregorek would not be caught as he crossed the line in 3:36.95, comfortably ahead of Gusman (3:37.52), Mead (3:38.32) and Crawford (3:38.67).

The second race found big name Matthew Centrowitz ready to square off against Kyle Merber, Colby Alexander and the unpredictable Leo Manzano.

Centrowitz, who an hour earlier had placed 4th in the 800 in 1:48.41 and wanted to test his fitness with a short interval in between races, started conservatively, staying near the rear of the pack through 700m as the race was led by Algerian teenager Takieddine Hedeilli, followed by Alexander, Merber and Manzano.

With 500m left, Olympic champ Centrowitz had moved up to 6th and at the bell he was ready to pounce, just 0.89 behind Hedeilli, with Alexander, Merber, Brandon Kidder and Thomas Riva in front. He slowly worked his way forward to the leaders and with 200 to go swung wide into lane 2 to begin his charge. He didn’t look back after taking the lead with 100m left and finished in a modest 3:38.99, 0.16 ahead of Merber and 0.75 ahead of Alexander.

Centro, now 28, sized up his day by saying, “Today was about competing and I think I did a pretty good job at both races. I put myself a little further back in the 8, but I ran conservative because of how my previous 800s went, so I was happy how I closed that race and then I got a little more confident in the 15 after running pleasantly well in the 8.”

The women’s 800 provided the evening’s first fireworks with the main protagonists, Hanna Green, Ce’aira Brown and Brenda Martinez, lining up in lanes 3, 4 and 5 in Section III.

Martinez went through halfway in 58.56, with Brown, Green and Laura Roesler following in single file. With 200 to go, Brown and Green pressured Martinez and with 150 left, Brown and Green moved on past the Rio Olympian on the outside and began their long sprint to the finish.

Down the homestretch, Brown’s strength was superior to Green’s speed, as the Hampton alum pulled away from Green for a solid 2:00.38–2:01.40 victory, with Martinez (2:02.03) and Roesler (2:03.46) following.

Talking about how her new training regimen has made a difference, the 24-year-old Brown said, “The only difference is just upping my mileage. Coming from Hampton in Virginia to [Coach Frank Gagliano], my mileage was lower at Hampton and now that I’m with Gags, it’s like 50–60 miles a week, so it’s the mileage that’s helping me.”


Eagle Rock, California, May 17—

800: 1. Craig Engels (NikOP) 1:47.40; 2. Carter Lilly (unat) 1:47.54; 3. Harun Abda (OTC) 1:47.87; 4. Henry Wynne (Brk) 1:48.36 PR; 5. Matthew Centrowitz (NikOP) 1:48.41; 6. Charles Jock (unat) 1:49.65; 7. Allen Eke (BBTC) 1:49.76; 8. Boris Berian (NBal) 1:50.70; 9. Nick Harris (unat) 1:50.92.

1500: I–1. Johnny Gregorek (Asics) 3:36.95; 2. Jordan Gusman’ (Aus) 3:37.52 PR; 3. Hassan Mead (OTC) 3:38.32; 4. Graham Crawford (HokaNJNY) 3:38.67; 5. Blake Haney (unat) 3:39.07 PR; 6. Daniel Herrera’ (Mex) 3:39.45 PR; 7. Eric Avila (unat) 3:40.79; 8. Luc Bruchet’ (Can) 3:47.20.

II–1. Centrowitz 3:38.99; 2. Kyle Merber (HokaNJNY) 3:39.15; 3. Colby Alexander (HokaNJNY) 3:39.74; 4. Takieddine Hedeilli’ (Alg) 3:39.85; 5. Brannon Kidder (BB) 3:39.96; 6. Thomas Riva’ (Can) 3:40.51; 7. Chad Noelle (Asics) 3:41.57; 8. Robert Denault’ (Can) 3:44.41; 9. Mac Fleet (Nik) 3:45.06; 10. Leo Manzano (HOKA) 3:49.03; 11. Mike Brannigan (NYAC) 3:50.01.

St: 1. MJ Erb (SaucF) 8:32.78; 2. Travis Mahoney (HokaNJNY) 8:33.09; 3. Brandon Doughty (Zap) 8:33.43 PR; 4. Jordan Mann (Ocean) 8:34.04 PR; 5. Isaac Updike (TRE) 8:34.09; 6. Tripp Hurt (unat) 8:37.07 PR; 7. Brian Shrader (SaucF) 8:45.95; 8. John Gay’ (Can) 8:47.30; 9. Austin O’Neil (Prest) 8:54.21; 10. Henry Sterling (NED) 8:55.80; 11. Jake Waterman (BouTC) 8:56.47.

5000: 1. Reid Buchanan (Skech) 13:33.38; 2. George Parsons (adi) 13:34.16 PR; 3. Sam Atkin’ (GB) 13:39.38 PR; 4. Joe Stilin (Zap) 13:42.42; 5. Trevor Dunbar (unat) 13:42.63; 6. Reed Fischer (Tinm) 13:45.88 PR; 7. Takanori Ichikawa’ (Jpn) 13:47.69; 8. Tim Rackers (BouTC) 13:48.55 PR; 9. Ryan Mahalsky (HansB) 13:50.01 PR; 10. Toshiyuki Yanagi’ (Jpn) 13:50.90; 11. Zach Zarda (KCS) 13:55.98; 12. Matt Crowe (TCLA) 13:57.59 PR; 13. Evans Kirwa’ (Ken) 14:12.00; 14. Craig Lautenslager’ (NZ) 14:18.55; 15. Mitsunori Asaoka’ (Jpn) 14:28.93; 16. Nicholas Kipruto (USAr) 14:32.98.


800: I–1. Ce’aira Brown (HokaNJNY) 2:00.38; 2. Hanna Green (OTC) 2:01.40; 3. Brenda Martinez (NBal) 2:02.03; 4. Laura Roesler (Nik) 2:03.46; 5. Elizabeth Whelan’ (Can) 2:04.85; 6. Raquel Lambdin (unat) 2:05.71; 7. Annie Leblanc’ (Can) 2:05.72.

II–1. Lindsey Butterworth’ (Can) 2:02.20; 2. Meghan Manley (CPTC) 2:03.71; 3. Lynsey Sharp’ (GB) 2:03.84; 4. Laurence Côté’ (Can) 2:04.26; 5. Madeleine Kelly’ (Can) 2:05.47; 6. Cecilia Barowski (HokaNJNY) 2:09.24.

III–1. Adrea Propp (Can) 2:04.16 PR; 2. Yuliya Stepanova’ (Rus) 2:04.35; 3. Alisha Brown (Ois) 2:05.64; 4. Baylee Mires (Brk) 2:06.70.

1500: I–1. Shannon Osika (Nik) 4:09.38; 2. Danielle Aragon (HokaNJNY) 4:09.57 PR; 3. Dana Mecke (TxEl) 4:11.55 PR; 4. Nicole Tully (HokaNJNY) 4:12.21; 5. Sarah MacPherson’ (Can) 4:12.64; 6. Mariah Kelly’ (Can) 4:12.89; 7. Hanna Hermansson’ (Swe) 4:13.09 PR; 8. Eleanor Fulton (HPW) 4:13.46; 9. Ayla Granados (Strava) 4:13.81; 10. Megan Mansy (HokaNJNY) 4:19.04.

II–1. Therese Haiss (unat) 4:16.65; 2. Maddie Alm (unat) 4:17.04; 3. Ana Cristina Narvaez’ (Mex) 4:17.62 PR; 4. Savannah Colon (BB) 4:18.30; 5. Tracee van der Wyk (unat) 4:18.62; 6. Natalia Hawthorn’ (Can) 4:18.62; 7. Stephanie Van Pelt (HokaNJNY) 4:19.24 PR; 8. Tasia Potasinski (Strava) 4:22.34; 9. Leah Rosenfeld (UArm) 4:22.87; 10. Kirsten Lee’ (Can) 4:24.43; 11. Rebecca Mehra (OisHPW) 4:29.91.

St: 1. Shalaya Kipp (unat) 9:44.34; 2. Mel Lawrence (Ois) 9:44.80; 3. Rima Chenah’ (Alg) 9:44.92; 4. Rosie Donegan’ (Aus) 9:46.83 PR; 5. Tori Gerlach (Reeb) 9:55.52; 6. Jessica Kamilos (Sauc) 9:59.84; 7. Katie Landwehr (unat) 10:05.68; 8. Rolanda Bell’ (Pan) 10:15.32; 9. Susan Tanui (USAr) 10:30.90; 10. Emma Garner (unat) 10:37.44.

5000: 1. Lauren Paquette (Brk) 15:19.17; 2. Rachel Cliff’ (Can) 15:20.66 PR; 3. Kate Van Buskirk’ (Can) 15:30.84; 4. Regan Yee’ (Can) 15:36.30 PR; 5. Danielle Shanahan (unat) 15:37.27 PR; 6. Chelsea Blaase (HansB) 15:39.61 PR; 7. Olivia Pratt (HansB) 15:42.35 PR; 8. Sarah Pagano (BAA) 15:42.72; 9. Anne-Marie Blaney (HansB) 15:54.35; 10. Maya Weigel (Strava) 15:58.93; 11. Calli Thackery’ (GB) 16:06.57; 12. Maggie Montoya (RRP) 16:10.50; 13. Alicia Nelson (BouTC) 16:43.87.


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