2017 USATF Outdoor Championship: 1,500 meters preview

By Citius Mag Staff

June 21, 2017

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We head into another U.S. championship with Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Simpson and American record holder Shannon Rowbury as the two favorites, which leaves one open spot for a third runner, if those two are healthy on the starting line. This is a wacky distance where anything can happen and we saw that when Brenda Martinez just nipped Amanda Eccleston at the finish line of the trials. 15 American women have run under 4:09 with Martinez entering with the fastest time of the year with her 4:03.15 from the Portland Track Festival.

Star/Favorite to watch

Jenny Simpson. She ran 4:04.16 at the Prefontaine Classic and finished just behind Kate Grace but we doubt she lets that happen again. Simpson thrives in a championship setting and she won this race in the Sacramento heat in 2014.

Dark horse pick

Kate Grace may has run the second fastest time of the year with her 4:03.59 from the Pre Classic. She’s a dark horse in the sense that she focused on the 800 meters last year and is moving up for a spot at Worlds. If we’re looking for a bolder pick, then we’ll go for Lauren Johnson who has run 4:05.88 on the season.

Fun fact/Stat

Jenny Simpson is 20–9 against Shannon Rowbury at 1,500 meters.

Predictions of who makes the team:

Jenny Simpson is the favorite for the win because you can’t argue with the hardware. The battle against Laura Muir in London wouldn’t be as fun without the American record holder so we’ll tab Rowbury in there for second. Kate Grace’s improvement over the past few years has been remarkable and making a world championship team in the 1,500 meters will be another testament to that.

Men’s 1,500 meters

Before the year began, a lot of the talk was about Matthew Centrowitz’s assault on the American record but that hasn’t amounted to much since he’s been a little banged up. In the meantime, Clayton Murphy has grown as one of the U.S. stars in the distance. The tactical nature of this race at USA’s always makes it a fun one.


Matthew Centrowitz will have all eyes on him as he possibly sports a blonde hairstyle and defends his U.S. title. No one finds a better position to be in during this race than Centrowitz but Murphy could give him a run for his money toward the end of the race, which means a possible celebration by Centrowitz will have to wait until he’s safely across the finish line in first.

Dark Horse Pick

Johnny Gregorek of the New Jersey-New York Track Club is one of the most blue collar athletes in this race and he’s the fourth-fastest American at the distance for the year but moves into the third position since Eric Jenkins will focus on a longer distance. The mustachioed look of Craig Engels also screams blue collar even louder.

Fun fact/Stat

Clayton Murphy will be attempting the double with the 800 meters and the 1,500 meters in an attempt to become the first man to win both events since Rick Wohlhuter, who accomplished the feat in 1976.

Prediction on who makes the team

It’s hard to see a team without Matthew Centrowitz in it. If the double or heat doesn’t swallow Clayton Murphy, we’ll have him as one of the top two spots. Ben Blankenship is sharp and not to be messed with. The Olympian knows how to execute a tactical race. This leaves us with one or two more spots so we’ll throw in Engels and Robby Andrews, if it’s a kickers race again. We totally didn’t mention Leo Manzano and he will somehow make this team to make us swallow our words.

Citius Mag Staff