“[Manhattan cross country and track and field] have a historic past, and we have a very bright future,” said Manhattan Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marianne Reilly in her introductory remarks at Wednesday’s event. “Today we welcome home Matt Centrowtiz to this great city.”
A Bronx native, Centrowitz returns to Manhattan after successful international and collegiate coaching stints. Over nearly 20 years, he led American University’s cross country and track and field programs, mentoring 11 NCAA All-American runners and earning Patriot League Coach of the Year honors nine times. During his tenure, American’s men’s cross country team won six-straight league championships, while his student-athletes won 89 individual or relay championships in Patriot League cross country and track competitions.
Centrowitz started his collegiate career at Manhattan before transferring to the University of Oregon, where he made his first U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500-meter race in 1976. Centrowitz qualified for the team a second time in 1980, and later set the national 5,000-meters record (13:12) in 1982. He is a four-time national champion in the 5,000-meters. In 2017, Centrowitz stepped away from American to have a bigger role in the training of his son, Olympic middle-distance runner Matthew Centrowitz, who won gold in the 1,500-meter race at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.
As director of cross country and track and field, Centrowitz will be responsible for the overall organization and direction of the program, with the aim of building Manhattan, the 1973 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Champions, into a national powerhouse.
“Manhattan College has a long and proud history of track and field for over 100 years,” said President Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D. “Manhattan is often described as an institution that punches above its weight. I love when we get described that way, and 1973 is a prime example of our conviction…We are proud to be here today.”
Centrowitz told the crowd of his excitement to return to his New York City roots: He attended Power Memorial and set the still-standing New York state record in the mile (4:02.7). As a high school runner, he would time his runs to coincide with when the Manhattan team would be out in Van Cortlandt Park, often imitating their training practices and conditioning.
“All of my track and field heroes were at Manhattan College,” Centrowitz added. “To return to Manhattan College and the Bronx, where I fell in love with running at Van Cortlandt Park, and where I chased my Manhattan College running idols; this is not only a great Bronx Tale, it is a dream come true.”
Centrowitz also stressed Manhattan’s Lasallian
“These core principles of faith, respect for all, commitment to education, inclusivity and social justice will form the foundation of my approach in working with my Manhattan College colleagues, staff and student-athletes,” he said.
After The Armory, guests were invited to a reception at Coogan’s in Washington Heights. You can see more from the day by viewing the full press conference, an interview with Matt Centrowitz, or our online photo gallery.