Saturday, June 18, 2011

Nationals Preview – Men & Women’s 1500


This is an event that always drives me NUTS. Track events are pretty simple – the fastest man/woman wins. And in events up through the half mile, that’s pretty much the way the events are run – the gun goes off and everyone takes off in an attempt to reach the finish line first. Except in the mile/1500 meters, which often become “let’s see who can run slowest yet get to the line first” events!

I will never understand the “wait and kick” philosophy of milers – especially those that don’t have a kick, yet wait anyway. But for whatever reason that is the game that get’s played time and time again when it comes to championship “racing”. And it makes predicting what will happen at Nationals and/or Worlds a difficult endeavor at best.

But I’m going to give it a try, mostly because there are so many middle distance runners that have emerged, and I have gotten fond of watching them compete.


Men’s 1500

Just a few years ago (‘08) all we really had in this event was Bernard Lagat. Since then we’ve had several young men “grow up” and become tough enough to compete in this event at the international level – Wheating, Manzano, Lamong among them. This year we’ve seen major growth from Torrence and Centrowitz, and what has been a coming out party for Russell Brown.

These are the men that I see running for the three spots to Daegu. I’m not even sure how to call this race. Will they actually race, or will we see another wait and kick? My gut says another wait and kick though I would love to see them just go for it – because eventually that’s what they will have to do against the Kenyans, Ethiopians and whomever else they happen to find in a semi or final (should they be be fortunate enough to make it). So I’m going with  “go for it” results.

Tactics aside, I see Wheating as the new “Man” in the middle distances. But he will have to prove it by leading our forces out of Nationals and onto the flight for Daegu. His big, tall, long striding frame should suit him well regardless of the tactics of the race – as should his experience at this level. Bottom line is that he’s strong enough and fast enough to win this race.

Spots two and three will be fought between the “rookie” Brown, and the “vets” Manzano and Lamong. I think that the “vets” are about even here, but I’m giving the edge (very slight) to Brown on the basis of his just having a hot season to this point coming in. He looked good indoors, he’s looked good so far outdoors, and he’s done so running against high level athletes. He comes in well prepared and it just seems like his year. Manzano & Lamong will be a matter of who has it best on the day – I feel they are that even.

Centrowitz looked good at the NCAA’s and Torrence in New York. They will be done in by depth in this race. But I expect that this is the beginning of an emergence for Centrowitz.


1. Andrew Wheating 3:35.50
2. Russell Brown 3:35.90
3. Leo Manzano 3:36.00
4. Lopez Lamong 3:36.10
5. Matthew Centrowitz 3:37.20
6. David Torrence 3:37.50



Women’s 1500

This may be one of the hardest events for me to watch next week, because no matter what happens someone I like is going to have to stay home. Three spots, four exciting athletes.

There is no doubt that Wurth Thomas will take this race out and make everyone run! The question is who goes with her – and the answer is anyone who wants a ticket to South Korea.

With a hard pace, the spots on this team should go to the three women with sub-4 credentials, and I’m going with Simpson to win – because she is a clutch competitor, not because she comes in running better than the others. And that win won’t be easy because Wurth Thomas will do her best to burn off the kicks of everyone in the race. If she runs as I expect the others will have a hard time running her down – especially if they give her any kind of cushion early. She will be rewarded with a ticket to Daegu.

Simpson, Pierce, Wurth Thomas & Uceny should wage one tough battle up the final straight – and I wish we had four spots to Worlds instead of three. This race could go any of a number of different ways. This is just the one that seems to make sense PR wise and experience wise. However it turns out, I think this could be our strongest group of women that we’ve sent to Worlds in this event from top to bottom – with all three capable of getting to the final.


1. Jenny Simpson 4:01.50
2. Christin Wurth Thomas 4:01.75
3. Anna Pierce 4:01.90
4. Morgan Uceny 4:02.10
5. Treniere Moser 4:05.00
6. Katie Follett 4:08.30

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