Cooper Teare wins the Men’s 1,500 meters!
By Elias Esquivel
SOJC Track Bureau
During last year’s 5,000-meter final at the Olympic Trials, Cooper Teare just missed making the United States team. He was in fourth approaching the last 100 meters, only half a step behind the top three. Ultimately, he was outkicked, finishing fourth.
At this year’s USATF Outdoor Championships, Teare found himself in that exact situation again, but in the men’s 1,500-meter final.
This time, however, Teare outkicked the others, winning Saturday afternoon in 3 minutes, 45.86 seconds, securing a trip to the World Athletics Championships in July at Hayward Field.
“This is all I could’ve hoped for,” said Teare. “A little bit of a redemption tour this year after missing by one spot last year.”
Jonathan Davis of Illinois finished second in 3:46.01, .14 behind Teare. Josh Thompson earned bronze in 3:46.07, finishing .06 behind Thompson. Overall, the race produced a tight finish, with less than a second difference between Teare and ninth-place Paul Ryan.
Oregon’s Reed Brown led the field to a conservative start, running a 65-second opening 400 meters. The pace remained stagnant with Brown leading until the last 500 meters when Teare and former fellow Duck Sam Prakel surged past.
Eric Holt passed Teare on the first curve of the bell lap, with Prakel still leading the final lap charge. Johnny Gregorek then made his move, stringing Henry Wynne along with him. Besides Teare, they all miscalculated — Prakel, Holt, Gregorek and Wynne comprised the top four with 150 meters left, but none of them finished in the top three.
It was a crowded race, and Teare had to deal with being boxed in a couple of times.
“There are some big guys out there,” said Teare. “I was trying to get around Henry Wynne for a little while and he was just battling me off … had to be a little methodical when to go.”
USATF has yet to release team information at the time of publishing, so it remains unclear who will be joining Teare on the United States team. Davis took silver, but he will miss July’s championships — he doesn’t have the world standard, which is 3:35.00.
In fact, of the 12-man final, only four had the world standard. To make things more convoluted, Teare was the only world qualifier to finish in the top five.
Thompson doesn’t have the standard, either, but he will likely make the team based on his world ranking, which is 39th. Thompson was aware of this, and it played into his race strategy.
“I knew who had the standard and I knew who didn’t,” said Thompson. “I was just making sure there’s people I needed to beat and it happened to be that I got third, which is my best scenario.”
Gregorek earned the standard only a couple of weeks ago at the Portland Track Festival. He finished sixth, but with Yared Nuguse and Henry Wynne, the only other two with the world qualifying time, finishing second-to-last and last, the window may be open for Gregorek to advance. Gregorek remains unsure of his status.
“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with the qualifications and stuff like that,” said Gregorek. “But I know I got to find some real racing ahead of me and I’m gonna be out there giving it my best.”
The only thing certain is Teare. He called his win surreal and mentioned how nice it was having his parents by the finish line. However, being the U.S. champion doesn’t seem to be enough for Teare.
“I didn’t come here to just make a world team,” said Teare. “Never content with just winning a U.S. race. The goal every year is to go try and get a medal.”
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