Centrowitz and Hocker face off over 1,500 meters, Rogers hits ticket to Tokyo | Sports
On the 10th and final day of the US Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field, nine Ducks made it to five finals for a chance to make it to Tokyo.
The men’s 1,500-meter, which included four Oregon athletes Colby Alexander, Sam Prakel, Cole Hocker and Matthew Centrowitz, was up to the task, even after a considerable delay due to the 100-plus-degree heat.
The riders were packed together without a clear leader for the majority of the race. At the start of the last lap, Centrowitz, the reigning Olympic champion, took the lead.
As they reached the last 200 yards, it looked like Centrowitz was going to take the top spot. At the last corner, it was the kick from NCAA Champion Hocker that propelled him into the race for first place. Hocker instantly took the distance between himself and Centrowitz as the two ran side by side for the final 50 yards.
As Hocker continued to get closer, he managed to lead Centrowitz by 0.06 seconds, beating the former UO and 2016 Olympic champion in three minutes and 35.28 seconds.
“Crazy, crazy race, ”Centrowitz said. “Stacked all the way. We had everyone there, all the big names from this year, and you could feel the excitement at the start line as they introduced each individual. One of the most exciting races I have ever participated in. I didn’t know what to expect, fast or slow, so I had different race plans. They all implied me to be at the front.
He added, “Instead of trying to save a little more for the last 50, I just tried hitting him, and sure enough Cole had some other gear that I didn’t have.”
After crossing the finish line, Hocker raised his finger to his mouth in a movement of silence.
“There was a lot of negative talk there… and I just wanted to shut everyone up,” he said.
Centrowitz’s second place qualifies him for the US Olympic team and a trip to Tokyo where he will look to defend his 2016 gold medal. Hocker has yet to run the 800 meters at Olympic standards and will have to wait for the start of the next week to see if he will make the trip as well.
Hocker’s personal best of 3:35:28 Sunday night is just 0.28 seconds off the Olympic standard.
“I think my world rank right now is good enough to lock me in,” he said. “What I was told was that if I placed in the top 3 in practice, let alone win, that would be enough to secure my world ranking in the top 45. Which I think is the number equivalent to this standard. “
Alexander and Prakel finished eighth and ninth respectively.
Raevyn Rogers of Oregon clinched her ticket to the summer games, finishing second in the women’s 800 meters. Rogers’ kick propelled her to second place in the final 100 yards. She finished only behind 19-year-old sensation Athing Mu who recorded the second fastest time ever by an American.
“I just went over there and ran,” Rogers said. “Do whatever I had to do to move on to the next round. Prayed about it, executed. Do my part to get my place.”
Rogers was happy to spend the last few weeks in Eugene, a town where she left a remarkable impact.
“I’m happy to have my family from Oregon because TrackTown USA has become a big part of me, like seeing and being a part of the Hayward Tower,” she said. “My grandmother was delighted to see him and it is a heartwarming feeling to see him, it is an assurance of my faith especially to be placed at the top of the tower.”
The men’s 5,000-meter final kicked off on Sunday. Unfortunately, the two Ducks taking part in the event failed to qualify for the Olympics. Eric Jenkins in 10th place while Cooper Teare landed in fourth place with only one second separating him from a qualifying position.
“I was where I wanted to be,” Teare said. “I know these guys are crazy. It was far away. I put a shot with 300 to go and thought I might take them by surprise … I really wouldn’t do anything different. These guys are world class and to be still close to the finish with them I can’t be too sad.
Teare grabbed the potential qualifier, only to see it ripped off down the stretch.
“It’s a little bitter,” he said. “It was a class peloton, Olympians in there, so it’s really nice, for sure. There might still be an opportunity and I think I’m putting myself in a great position. I’m grateful to Coach Thomas for bringing me here in one piece and competing with these guys.
Jenkins was disappointed with his performance and remains unsure of his next steps. For now, he’s just going to keep running.
“Guess I’m going to cancel this hotel in Tokyo, eh?” I don’t know what the rest of the year is like, ”he said. “I’m going to sit down with my coach and my agent and set a schedule. I will continue to run.
The rest of Sunday’s events have been postponed until 8:30 p.m. due to excessive heat in the Eugene area.
Damarcus Simpson also represented Oregon in the men’s long jump. The former two-time champion Pac-12 recorded a season record of 26 feet, 1 inch and a lifetime record of 26-10.5. He fell just short of Olympic standard and was fourth in trials.
The last athlete from Oregon to compete in Sunday’s practice was Kyree King in the 200-meter, finishing seventh with a time of 20.30.