By David Monti
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
Click for yesterday's Matt Centrowitz Video Interview in Boston
BOSTON (04-Feb) - Although he turned pro last year and recently signed an endorsement contract with Nike, IAAF World Championships 1500m bronze medalist Matthew Centrowitz is still a student. He's in his final semester as a sociology major at the University of Oregon in Eugene, but looks forward to finishing up his studies so he can join Alberto Salazar's Oregon Distance Project training group in Portland, about two hours north of Eugene. There, he'll train daily with Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Ciaran O'Lionaird amongst others.
"I had great years in Eugene," Centrowitz said in an interview here yesterday. "I'll always look at it as a good home to me. I think that's one of the reasons, like I said earlier, that going to the Oregon Project (will be good)."
Centrowitz, 22, who will run the 3000m tonight at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix here, has terrific closing speed. In winning the USA 1500m title last year, he ran the final 400 meters in 53.25, to hold off Bernard Lagat. At the world championships, he closed even faster, clocking 51.6 seconds to come from sixth to third position in the final 100 meters. Centrowitz said that the spectrum of distance running represented in Salazar's group --from the mile to the marathon-- would benefit all of the athletes.
"I think those guys will help my strength a lot," he reasoned. "Hopefully, I can help their speed a little bit. I think we're going to work really well together. We're not all in the same events. Some of us aren't even competing for the same titles in the U.S., some from different countries. So, I think the dynamic of the group is going to be great."
Centrowitz is likely to do many workouts with O'Lionaird, the former Florida State miler from Ireland who was last year's Atlantic Coast Conference 1500m and 5000m champion. Like Centrowitz, O'Lionaird competed in the world championships 1500m final, finishing tenth.
"I'll have Ciaran (to train with)," Centrowitz said.
But it's athletes like Ritzenhein, Rupp and Farah who may contribute the most to Centrowitz's development given their great endurance. For instance, Centrowitz sees extending his long runs with Salazar's group.
"About 90 minutes right now," Centrowitz said when asked about his present long runs. "I'll definitely look to progress probably close to the two-hour benchmark, eventually. Just things like that --strength/tempo runs, long runs-- that's the area I can most work on. I think that's why me being in a 3000 is going to help. I'd like to do some more over-distance than under-distance. I think it's going to help the mile later in the year."
Rupp, the USA 10,000m record holder who possesses extraordinary range with personal bests of 1:49.87 for 800m to 60:30 for the half-marathon, is excited about Centrowitz joining his group.
"It will be really good having someone who can help out," Rupp said in an interview. "Obviously, he's got great closing speed. He'll be able to help out a lot in a lot of the faster, shorter workouts. Hopefully, we'll be able to help him out in the longer stuff, getting him a little energy in that last lap."