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Leo Manzano Reclaims 1500m Title

Jenny Simpson did as well.

Jenny Simpson did as well.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

ALBUQUERQUE — Both Leo Manzano and Jenny Simpson won their second USA indoor 1500m titles here on the second and final day of the USA Indoor Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center on Sunday.  Manzano reclaimed the title he won in 2010, while Simpson successfully defended her 2011 crown, duplicating her 1500m/3000m double victory from these championships last year.

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Manzano, who represents Nike and runs for the Austin Track Club, needed all of his vaunted closing speed to prevail in today’s race. Galen Rupp, who finished third in last night’s 3000m here, decided to double back and made a brave challenge to win today, taking the lead with two and one-half laps to go. Manzano was running third with Garrett Heath between him and Rupp. Reigning USA outdoor champion Matthew Centrowitz, who is as strong a kicker as Manzano, was sitting in fourth.

“I knew that Matt Centrowitz and Galen were not guys to be messed around with,” Manzano told Race Results Weekly. “Coming off last year I didn’t really know what to expect.  I just knew those guys were contenders.”

Coming out of the final turn, Rupp still had the lead, Heath had fallen back, and Centrowitz looked to be comfortably in second place. But Manzano, pumping his arms furiously in the final 50 meters, shot past both Centrowitz and Rupp on the outside to get the win in 3:48.05.

“They made a couple of great moves and I had to cover them,” Manzano said. “I’m just very blessed to have that kick.”

Centrowitz was also able to pass Rupp, take second, and secure a spot on Team USA for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul next month.

“It was a crazy race,” Centrowitz said. “I mean, Jeff See fell and the pace was just like fartlek, then it went really hard with 600 to go. I wasn’t in the greatest position, but I’m pleased with how I reacted.”

Rupp finished third, the same position as in last night’s race. See, who did a full somersault after tripping with about 350 meters to go, finished seventh.

“The first thing I knew I was on my back,” lamented See.

Manzano wasn’t yet sure if he would take his world team berth, but Centrowitz said he would.

Simpson had an easier time than Manzano, but had to hold off a strong challenge from New Balance teammate Brenda Martinez to secure win. Simpson had taken the lead of the seven and one-half lap race with five laps to go, and was stretching the field out.

“I knew when I took the lead I just couldn’t go up there and sit around,” Simpson told reporters. I knew I really needed to take command of the lead and I did that.”

With about 150 meters to go, Martinez was struggling to find running room on the backstretch, and briefly tussled with Lauren Johnson.

“I could have prevented getting boxed in on the second to last lap,” Martinez said. “I should have responded if I knew someone was creeping on the side of me. There was a chance I could have won.”

Running wide, Martinez passed Johnson and Sara Vaughn and began to catch Simpson, who wasn’t aware of Martinez’s position because of the noise of the crowd.

“I didn’t hear her, but you know when you hear that something’s going on and so you don’t shut it down,” Simpson said. “I didn’t necessarily know she was right there.”

Martinez sprinted as hard as she could, but just couldn’t catch Simpson who won in 4:15.04 to beat Martinez by 7/100ths of a second.Vaughn finished third (4:18.25) and Johnson fourth (4:19.30).

“I’m just really happy that it turned out the way it did,” said Simpson who reiterated that she won’t be competing in the IAAF World Indoor Championships. Martinez said she would take her team spot, meaning that Vaughn will get the second team spot.

In the men’s 800m, Duane Solomon successfully defended his 2011 title with a commanding wire-to-wire run.  Solomon got the field out in 25.85 seconds for the first 200m, never looked back, and won going away in 1:48.58.

“It felt really comfortable,” said Solomon, who also won at these championships last year. “Yesterday (in the preliminary round) it was tough, you know. But today, I had so much at the end.  I probably could have went faster.  I really felt great today.”

Behind Solomon things were a lot messier. With 100 meters to go in the race, three other men –Michael Rutt, Tevan Everett and Mark Wieczorek– were all in contention for second place, which would mean a trip to the World Indoor Championships. Coming into turn-3, Wieczorek tried to go wide around Everett, but the broad-shouldered Everett was drifting out slighty and making it hard to pass. At the same time, Rutt was trying to get through on the inside, bumped Everett, then surged down the inside lane on the homestretch to take second in 1:49.90. Wieczorek eventually passed Everett to finish third just 6/100ths behind Rutt.

“I knew it was the only way I was going to get around Tevan and Mark,” Rutt explained. “I felt Tevan pushing on the outside –he was on the outside of lane-1– so I thought, well, I’ll see what I can do.”

With is second place finish, Rutt qualifed for the World Indoor Championships.

Former heptathlete Erica Moore ran away with the women’s 800m title, to win her first ever national championship.  Moore took the field through half-way in 58.78, then increased her lead over the final two laps, clocking 2:01.08 and winning over Phoebe Wright, the defending champion, by two seconds.

“I’ve been working on building my confidence enough to lead in races like that,” Moore said. “It’s just a totally different mindset running from the front. You have to be confident knowing that you can handle the pressure of being in front.”

Both Moore and Wright plan to run at the World Indoor Championships.

As exciting as the middle distance action was here today, the star of the meet was high-jumper Chaunte Lowe. The mother of two cleared 2.02m on her final attempt to break Tisha Waller’s American record. The crowd roared, and Lowe did one of her endearing celebration dances. In the men’s pole vault, Brad Walker also had an excellent day clearing 5.86m, then attempted a new American record of 6.00m (he missed on all three tries). World leaders were also recorded by Sanya Richards-Ross in the 400m (50.71), Trell Kimmons in the 60m (6.45), Kristi Castlin in the 60m hurdles (7.84), and Tiana Madison in the 60m (7.02). David Oliver had a bad race and only finished fifth in the 60m hurdles.

The USA Indoor Championships return to the Albuquerque Convention Center in both 2013 and 2014.