Before making his NYRR Wanamaker Mile debut at last year’s Millrose Games, Matthew Centrowitz said that he’d been dreaming of the moment for years.
“I’ve been wanting to participate in it since high school,” he told Ken Goe of The Oregonion. “I can’t believe the day is finally here.”
Once the big day arrived, the 2011 IAAF World Championships bronze medalist made the most of it. After running comfortably in second for the entire race, “Centro” took the lead with 300 meters remaining to win in 3:53.92, a personal best and a facility record for the New Balance Track and Field Center at the Armory.
On February 16, Centrowitz will return, not only to defend his title but also in an attempt to break Bernard Lagat’s Wanamaker Mile record of 3:52.87, set in 2005 on the track in Madison Square Garden.
And that might not be all.
“I've never been this fit this early,” said Centrowitz. “It's really exciting for me. I’m definitely going after Bernard Lagat's meet record and, if the race goes really well, I could get Bernard's American record, too (3:49.89). Every year when you plan for the season you always plan for a few special meets you get excited for. Millrose is the one for my indoor season, especially now that it's in the Armory on such a great track. I really look forward to racing in New York in front of my friends and family and repeating as NYRR Wanamaker Mile champion."
New York Road Runners is again sponsoring both the men’s and women’s miles, the latter featuring high school superstar Mary Cain of Bronxville, NY.
Among Centrowitz’s top challengers will be two-time U.S. Olympian Lopez Lomong; Miles Batty, who last year set at NCAA record at this meet in finishing second to Centrowitz in 3:54.54; and Irish Olympian Ciarán O’Lionáird, who won the mile at the 2012 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston.
Other professional athletes in the hunt will be New Jersey native Robby Andrews, who finished fifth at 1500 meters in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials; Ryan Gregson, the Australian record-holder at 1500 meters; Olympic steeplechaser Donn Cabral; Garrett Heath, who represented the U.S. at the 2010 World Indoor Championships; and Jordan McNamara, who won the 2011 Falmouth Mile in a personal best 3:54.89.
Lagat’s record isn’t the only one with a target on it: Three collegians in the race will be gunning for Batty’s NCAA mark. Ryan Hill, of North Carolina State, has an outdoor mile PB of 3:56.78 and finished fifth in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials at 5000 meters; Lawi Lalang, of the University of Arizona, is the 2012 NCAA champion at 3000 meters and 5000 meters with an indoor mile PB of 3:55.09; and Chris O’Hare, of the University of Tulsa, the reigning NCAA Indoor champion at the mile, with an indoor PB of 3:56.48. Also in the field is local favorite Mitch Goose, a cross-country All-American from Iona College.
The women’s mile will see the 16-year-old Cain take on a field of professionals and top collegians. Cain, who is coached by three-time ING New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, will try to break U.S. junior and high school records for both 1500 meters and the mile—four marks in one race. Earlier this month, Cain ran 9:02.10 for 3000 meters, the fastest time ever run by an American high school girl at that distance. She will compete at two miles on February 2 at the Boston meet.
Cain will face collegiate stars Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth University, the NCAA 5000-meter champion who set the Olympic “A” standard in placing fifth at 5000 meters in the U.S. Olympic Trials; Jordan Hasay of the University of Oregon, the 2011 NCAA indoor mile; and 3000-meter champion; Emma Coburn of the University of Colorado, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials steeplechase champion.
Among the professional women in the field are Americans Ashley Higginson, Delilah DiCrescenzo, Kate Grace, Sarah Bowman, Emily Infeld, and Renée Tomlin and Canadians Nicole Sifuentes, Hilary Stellingwerff, and Sheila Reid. Reid, a four-time NCAA champion while at Villanova University, is coached by Ireland’s Marcus O’Sullivan, a six-time winner of the Wanamaker Mile.
The 106th Millrose Games will be the second stop of USA Track & Field’s nationally televised 2013 Indoor USATF Championship Series. The meet will be shown live on ESPN3 and again on ESPN from 8:00–10:00 p.m. on February 17.