The last time 22-year-old Carlos Villarreal ran a 1500m race, over two months ago at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships, it did not go well. The University of Arizona junior failed to qualify for the final in Austin out of the semis, a brutal blow for a guy who ran 3:37.22 earlier in the season.
But on Thursday in Lima, Peru, Villarreal earned his redemption in a big way: the NCAA star won the Pan American Games 1500m gold using his famously ferocious kick to beat American Johnny Gregorek and Canada’s William Paulson. Villarreal-- representing México, where he was born and lived until he was six— won in 3:39.93 with an epic comeback the likes of which he has become known for collegiately.
Swinging wide in the final 100 meters, the senior-to-be at Arizona flew past the two men in front of him before stretching his arms wide to celebrate his win. Not a bad follow-up race after his disappointment at NCAAs.
Gregorek, who led much of the race, settled for silver in 3:40.42. Paulson, who just completed his eligibility at Arizona State, took the bronze in 3:41.15.