Monday Matters August 22, 2011

From TrackTown to Daegu

Vin Lananna and UO athletesCoach Vin Lananna

TrackTown USA’s own Vin Lananna, is the head coach for Team USA’s men’s squad in Daegu, Korea at the IAAF World Championship meet. And as he manages some of the top athletes in the world, we’re sure he takes comfort in how many of those men and women train right here in Oregon.

UO athletes Matt Centrowitz and Mike Berry

First, there are the current UO athletes Matt Centrowitz and Mike Berry.  Centrowitz stunned many with his gritty 1500 meter race at US Nationals where, as the Washington Post wrote, he “ran down four-time world champion Bernard Lagat to claim an improbable U.S. title with his finish in 3 minutes 47.63 seconds.”  Centrowitz then went to Paris and ran his heart out yet again to meet the IAAF “A” standard.

UO 400 meter phenom freshman Mike Berry was selected for the relay pool. Most likely, he will run in one of the heats for the 4 x 400 relay — but in the likely scenario of a US medal — they’ve won gold in 9 of the last 12 World Championships — Berry could bring home a World Championship medal before he even starts his second collegiate season.  You can bet Coach Lananna will be thrilled with that opportunity!

Oregon Track Club Elite Stars Nick Symmonds, Andrew Wheating and Ben Bruce

We wrote about gold medal favorites Ashton Eaton and Jesse Williams last week; this week the focus is on three other OTC Elite athletes who will be competing in Daegu (don’t worry, we’ll write about the women on Thursday!)

Ben Bruce steepleBen Bruce

Steeplechaser Ben Bruce was given a gift of a second chance — although he didn’t finish in the top three at the National Championships, he met the IAAF “A” standard, and when Kyle Alcorn and Joshua McAdams (who finished ahead of Bruce) didn’t, he was selected for the team.

Although he is primarily a steeplechaser, Bruce is known as one of OTC Elite’s most versatile runners in both cross country and track.

In January of 2011, he defeated Max King and teammate Kevin Chelimo among many others to win the Bay Area Cross Country Challenge.  And then in the Spring of 2010, Bruce represented the United States at the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Nick Symmonds and Andrew Wheating

Nick Symmonds

Coming into the World Championships with the fourth fastest time in the world this year, Nick Symmonds has his eyes set on the finals.  As his coach Mark Rowland told the Register Guard, Symmonds is “as strong he’s ever been. . . Nick has the strength to go three rounds,” [Rowland] said. “We’re putting the last sharpening aspects of his preparation together before the championships start. Hopefully, he can have a smooth ride in the heats by staying alert as everyone will be fresh in the prelims.”  Symmonds’ racing in Europe over the summer has shown that he is capable of running with the best in the world.

In late July, at the Diamond League meet in Monaco,Symmonds placed third behind world-record holder David Rudisha in a time of 1 minute, 43.83 seconds. The mark was the second fastest of Symmonds’ career (his personal best is 1:43.76) and currently ranks him fourth in the world. Rudisha’s winning time of 1:42.61 was the fastest in the world this year. His fellow Kenyan Asbel Kiprop was second in 1:43.15.

For Andrew Wheating, on the other hand, the summer meets in Europe were a bit frustrating.  Battling some nagging injuries, Wheating pulled out of the 1,500 meter race in Monaco and has been focusing on getting healthy and ready to compete next week in Daegu.

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