Is Centro Officially Done??

By: Patrick Larson

Is Centro officially done? No. Absolutely not. 

Lets dig in. Last night Matt Centrowitz ran an incredibly lackluster 800m time of 1:50.97 where he only managed to place 6th at the Miramar Invite. Such a performance from the 2016 Olympic gold medalist set the LetsRun boards aflame with threads like “Time to panic? Centro runs 1:50.97 800!!” While this is certainly not a promising performance with just two months until the Olympic Trials, I’m confident that Matt Centrowitz is anything but done and should still be considered a favorite to make the Tokyo Olympic team. 

If there is anything we should learn from history, Centro’s 800 meter performances have rarely been true indicators of his fitness and future 1500m/mile performances. As Jonathan Gault quickly pointed out after the race, Matt Centrowitz ran times of 1:53.25 and 1:52.88 in 2018 just 2-3 months before going on to win another USA title in the 1500m and run 3:31 in Monaco. 

Maybe this is just a coincidence? Well let’s go back a bit further. In 2015, Centro ran a mediocre 1:49.2 on July 9th before coming back a week later to run 3:30.4 in Monaco. Two data points from 2018 and 2015 do not create a trend nor are predictive of what Centro could run at the Trials in June. But, anyone would be silly to ignore the face that Matt Centrowitz has run below average 800 meter times and had world class 1500 meter performances in short time spans from one another. 

From 2014-2019, Matt Centrowitz ran faster than 1:47 in the 800 meters just four times out of 16 total performances. Matt Centrowitz is simply an average 800 meter runner. After the race last night, Nick Willis tweeted “you can’t just look at fitness in a vacuum…I ran 1:50.5 only 10 days before making the final in Osaka Worlds in 2007. 800m racing can be hit or miss for a miler in the middle of training.” 

My prediction: Matt Centrowitz will make the 2021 Olympics. The young contingent of American milers is certainly a threat to seasoned veterans like Matt Centrowitz and will make for an exciting Olympic Trials. But, lets not forget that Matt Centrowitz has never missed a USA 1500m final that he has competed in since 2010. The man knows how to make it through multiple rounds of the 1500 meters and is arguably one of the best racers and tacticians in American history. I’ll eat my words come June if Centro doesn’t make the USA team, but there is nothing to suggest that he still shouldn’t be considered a favorite.