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Centrowitz Wins fastest 1,500 ever at Olympic trials

By Isaac Gibson

It was do or die for eight of the 13 runners who did not have the Olympic standard of 3 minutes, 36 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in the men’s 1,500 meters.

Knowing that, Jordan McNamara, Izaic Yorks and Eric Avila worked together to push the pace early in hopes of achieving the standard.

The result: it was the fastest 1,500 ever ran in the Olympic trials

Matt Centrowitz, of the Nike Oregon Project, won in 3:34.09, breaking Steve Scott’s 3:35.15 record set in 1980. Behind him were Robby Andrews and Ben Blankenship, who ran 3:34.88 and 3:36.18, respectively.

“To come out with a win shows that I am ready for whatever they throw at me now at Rio,” said Centrowitz. “Last year we showed that we could put three guys in the final at Beijing, and I expect us three here to be in the final at Rio.”

Centrowitz, Andrews, Blankenship, Leo Manzano and Kyle Merber were the only ones who went into the race the with the Olympic qualifying standard. Anyone who placed in the top three and did not have the standard would not make the team.

McNamara, of Oregon Track Club Elite, said after the semifinal round that he wanted to work with another runner to make the race an honest one. Izaic Yorks, who graduated from the University of Washington last month, answered the call. (more…)

University of Florida trio sweeps podium in Triple Jump

EUGENE, Oregon – Mere seconds after the last attempt in the triple jump took place at the U.S. outdoor championships, winner Omar Craddock ran to the benches next to the runway and pulled a plastic bag containing a few small brooms from his backpack.

Three jumpers with University of Florida ties had just swept the event, and Craddock led his fellow Gators Will Claye and Marquis Dendy down the track, metaphorically sweeping up the competition.

“That was the plan,” said Craddock, who graduated in 2014. “I brought the brooms out here without telling Dendy or Clay because I knew we were going to sweep this. We just had to stay focused and get the job done.”

The trio, founding members of what they call “University of Flight,” took the podium decisively. Craddock edged out Claye’s final jump by two inches with a distance of 57 feet, 6 1/4 inches. Dendy finished third with 56-5 1/2. The fourth-place finisher was nearly a foot behind Dendy.

They stood together on the first-place step and did the Gator chomp in unison.

“It always feels good to sweep, but it’s not a surprise to us,” said Claye, a 2012 graduate. “This was just like practice, except then, it was just our teammates watching. Now, we have the world as our spectators. It’s just great to be able to do it on a stage like this.”

With the 1-2-3 finish, all three Gators will represent Team USA when it makes the trip to China in August to compete at the World championships. Christian Taylor, another former Gator and defending Olympic gold medalist, has a bye into worlds as the 2014 Diamond League champion.

“There will be four of us out there, and that was definitely our goal coming into this,” said Dendy, who also won the long jump on Thursday evening and NCAA title in both events in his final collegiate meet two weeks ago. “Now we are all going to be vying for those podium spots. But one guy is gonna be left out, so we are all gonna fight hard.”

From the boisterous sweeping celebration to Craddock yelling to the crowd that he was “going to work today” after his second jump, the three Gators entertained the crowd and simultaneously fueled each other to fight for the top three spots.

“It’s all about the crowd,” said Claye. “We just want to entertain them and kind of give them a feel for what we do. (Craddock yelling) definitely pumped me up and that’s how it is with us. We’re always talking, and that’s what brings out the big jumps – that’s what amps you up.”

Although the three have trained together for a while and consider themselves brothers, there is no lack of competition for the top spot at what they also call “Jump University.”

When asked if Craddock is two inches better than he is, Claye said, “Oh no, of course not. Omar is good, but at worlds he’s gonna have to do a little bit better than that. I’m coming for him at worlds, that’s where it counts. Whoever wins in China — all of this will kind of be forgotten.”

With a gold medal around his neck, and a shirt with the number 60 on his back to represent the long-standing world record in the triple jump, Craddock felt confident in his chances to continue his reign as leader of the University of Flight.

“It don’t matter whose toes I’m stepping on,” said Craddock. “If it takes 18 meters, if it takes a world record, I’ll get it done and bring that medal home.”

Men’s 200: Division I or III, it doesn’t matter for Jake Mihelich

As soon as Jake Mihelich got to Hayward Field on Friday, his mind was set on one thing: “Division III or Division I, it doesn’t matter.”

Mihelich runs for Division III Linfield College, and he competed right next to Division I and professional track athletes in the men’s 200 and 400 meters at the Oregon Twilight Meet. He was excited. Meets like these, where he races against much stronger competition, have resulted in his best times this season.

And as Mihelich reached around the stagger during the men’s 200 meters, it became even clearer to him that which division he competed in did not matter.

“Once I got into the stagger, I just started passing people,” Mihelich said. “My favorite part about that 200 is coming around that slingshot, and I saw that I was in fourth place and these guys are right there, and I was like, ‘I got these guys.’”

Mihelich finished second in 21.66 seconds, edging Oregon’s Jordan Latt by .03 and Jake Galpin by .14. He was only .23 behind winner Daveon Collins of Seattle Speed. It wasn’t a fast time by Mihelich’s standards, but “it felt fast and felt good.”

It’s impressive for someone who two years ago considered himself a “distance guy.” In his senior year of high school, Mihelich volunteered to run the 400 meters at a meet and has since developed into one of the elite sprinters at the Division III level. He ranks second in the 400 and 15th in the 200 this year.

His progression has been simple. He keeps running “pretty well.” He passed on running cross country in the fall this past year and now has the goal to win a national championship in June.

He’s also gauging himself against the nation’s top athletes at events like the Oregon Twilight, which to him, is “awesome.”

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