Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Will the Eugene magic affect the 1500?

Unmistakably, one major ingredient in the magical crowd roar of Monday night was the Oregon element. All three mens 800m qualifiers—Symmonds, Wheating, Smith—train in this town.

Is there any possibility we’ll see a similar result in the 1500? Hmmm. Consider the fact that Wheating is entered and declared, with his qualifier of 3:38.60. The University of Oregon also has Andrew Acosta (3:40.52) and Jordan McNamara (3:41.13). The Oregon TC is fielding William Leer (3:38.11) and John Jefferson (3:39.44). Plus, 2000 Trials champ Gabe Jennings (3:39.59) trains here now.

It’s an impressive Eugene line-up, to be sure, but so far we’ve heard no one talking about any of them as major factors. Yes, Jennings is an intriguing talent and someone to watch. Wheating, many think, will not even run, now that he is on the 800 team.

And then you have the big guns who aren’t from Eugene. The World Champion, for instance, would qualify as a big gun. Bernard Lagat qualified for the 5000 on Monday and the next day announced, “I will race both.”

He added, “Last year, everybody knew that I had problems with my stomach. I have no problems this year, I feel stronger this year so if I make the team in the 1500, I'm going to pursue the 1500 very hard. I did it last year.”

It would be a mistake to count out Alan Webb, the mile AR holder. He said Tuesday, “I feel good, my training's been going well and I've had a lot of inspiration the last 12 hours on the track. I'm really excited about participating in this meet. It's been pretty awesome to watch.”

Webb said that pulling out of the 800 gave him an extra week of training and more confidence for the 1500. “It's just a matter of getting out there and executing.”

Then there’s newcomer Lopez Lomong, who missed making the 800 team by 0.11. The tactically inexperienced immigrant from Sudan has been tabbed by many in the know as a world class force in the future. But is he too tired from the 800?

“Actually it helps,” he said the day after the final. “I finished my 800 yesterday and I felt very fresh. I just wanted to do some rounds. I finally made my PR yesterday. I didn't make the team, but I wanted to see what my speed was. It really helped me a lot.”

Also high on the formchart are Texan Leonel Manzano, Rob Myers, Chris Lukezic and so on. Plus, there are those who are floating under the radar of the formchart, so to speak, like Steve Sherer (3:36.81 a few weeks ago).

So, will the race be magic? Almost certainly. Will it be Oregon magic again?

Anything can happen, but that’s never the way to bet.

No comments: