There were many entertaining events at the 2018 USATF Outdoors, but, for me, the two 1,500 meters lived up to the hype.
Face it, 1,500 meters can become truly boring races. Running pedestrian pace, then, seeing how fast you can run a last 400 meters, is time for me to floss my teeth.
This time around, however, both races were fascinating, as many of the top athletes put all they had into the races, and yes, there were some surprises.
Shelby Houlihan wins 1,500 meters with a screaming last lap!
Jenny Simpson is the most be medaled American women 1,500 meters of all times. She won gold in 2011 Daegu, then, silver in 2013 Moscow, then, bronze in Rio 2016, and finally, the silver in London 2017. Jenny has been pushing all season, testing her fitness and she finished fourth in Pre, to Shelby Houlihan coming into her own.
With a lap to go, Kate Grace took off and was leading, with Jenny Simpson and Shelby Houlihan right there, and Rachel Schneider in tow. Shelby Houlihan is scarily fit. Her 57.76 last lap gave her the win in 4:05.48. Jenny Simpson took second in 4:06.21 and Kate Grace was third in 4:07.04 and Rachel Schneider was fourth in 4:08.33. Houlihan is extremely fit, and her ability to finish makes her dangerous in any race she is in now. A race that all should have been proud of in 2018.
Centrowitz controlled the race, and he is surely back!
The pace was cautious, but, with two laps to go, the race got hot. A 57 lap put the top eight together, and then, it got tough. To be in the top six at the finish, you had to run a 1:51 last 800 meters. Drew Hunter covered all off the moves, but dropped from first to fifth over the last lap. Centrowitz was second last year. Robbie Andrews, 2017 champion, did not make the final.
Drew Hunter had lead for much of the race. At the bell, Eric Jenkins took the lead, with Matt Centrowitz there, moving from first to 11th on second lap, then, third on third lap, then, a 53.59 last lap gave him the title. The pace was hard, and with a whole bunch of kickers, Centrowitz had his hand full. But, don’t feel bad for Centrowitz. Tne guy has eyes in the back of his head.
The drama over the last lap means that lots can happen in a short time period. Matt Centrowitz won the title in 3:43.37. Izaic Yorks had run a very calculated race, moving up through the entire race, and his second place, well earned, was his best race ever, 3:43.67. Eric Jenkins took third, running 3:43.74, with a 54.06 last lap.
The field was intense, and with the race coming down to a 1:51 final 800 meters, the race stays open. Anyone there can medal and anyone with some inspiration can challenge. Centrowitz knew that and he managed the stress better than anyone else.
Matt Centrowitz signing autographs, photo by MIke Deering for The Shoe Addicts