The stakes couldn’t be simpler and the circumstances couldn’t be more unique. “The first person across the line makes the team,” said Jill Geer, a spokesperson for USA Track and Field.
While much of the attention Sunday centered on a meeting between the runners at a downtown Eugene hotel, the final eight events of these trials took place at Hayward Field. In the men’s 1,500-meter race on Sunday, the 22-year old Centrowitz was neck-and-neck with Leonel Manzano as the two sprinted toward the finish line. Manzano edged the Broadneck High product by nine-hundredths of a second, finishing in 3 minutes 35.75 seconds. Centrowitz finished in 3:35.84 but is still headed to London.
“This is my first Olympic team so I’m very excited to represent the U.S. at the Olympics on the biggest stage in track and field,” Centrowitz said.
Centrowitz, whose father, Matt, is a two-time Olympian and the head track coach at American University, shrugged off the fast early pace and led for most of the final lap before Manzano, a member of the 2008 Olympic team, caught him from behind down the final stretch. Not long after, before making his victory lap, Centrowitz spotted his father in the stands.
“He came out a few days before the trials just to make sure my head’s in the right spot,” Centrowitz said. “Sometimes it wanders off with girls. . . . He focuses me up a little bit.”
Despite the high drama in the trials’ final events Sunday, nothing seemed to match the theater that surrounded the women’s 100 race at these trials. Felix and Tarmoh had been locked in a dead-heat tie for the past eight days. In last Saturday’s 100-meter race, a photo review showed that both sprinters crossed the finish line at the same time — officially in 11.068 seconds — an ending for which USATF officials were not prepared.
There were no rules in place to break the tie, and officials took nearly 24 hours to draft a new set of procedures to determine a winner, essentially coming up with two options, depending on the runners’ preferences: a run-off or a tie.
There was not a quick consensus, as the two sides met Saturday night and again for two hours on Sunday afternoon before settling on the Monday runoff.
USATF had hoped to have a resolution by the conclusion of the trials on Sunday evening, so they could forward the names of the men’s and women’s track teams to the United States Olympic Committee on Monday.