Men's 1,500 meters, women's high jump highlight Day 2 of U.S. indoors
More than 5,200 fans filled the Oregon Convention Center on Saturday afternoon, but several times during the afternoon, many seats were left empty while fans stood and cheered in what was an entertaining closing day for the U.S. indoor track and field championships.
A highlight came in the must-watch men's 1,500 meters. Holding a slight lead down the home stretch, former Oregon Duck Matthew Centrowitz was close to losing his spot at the front of the pack.
Robby Andrews, who is known for his strong kick around the final curve, was edging past Centrowitz on the outside with less than 50 meters to run. A loss for Centrowitz would be his first to an American rival in a long time, and a third-place finish would take away his spot on the U.S. team for the world indoor championships.
But Centrowitz was able to make a move in the final 20 meters, and edge out Andrews by .07 second, winning the national title with a time of 3 minutes, 44.33 seconds.
Andrews finished in 3:44.40.
"Having him go by me was probably the first time someone has gone by me this whole year," Centrowitz said. "I've just been in the front going by other people. I was happy the way I responded - that just shows my strength right now. I'll just carry this momentum into the world indoors."
While Centrowitz brought the crowd to its feet on the track, however, two women stole the show on the infield.
Vasthi Cunningham, a high school senior, broke her own national high jump record by clearing 6 feet, 6 1/4 inches. The height also set a world juniors record and was the highest mark by any woman jumper in 2016 so far.
"I've been just looking at these girls from out of the country and our U.S. pros, just hoping one day I could be up there with them," said Cunningham.
Her father and coach, former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, was in the stands to celebrate her victory afterward.
Across the infield, Sandi Morris cleared 16-2 3/4 in the pole vault, a personal record, taking down American record holder Jenn Suhr, who owns 15 national championships, as well as a gold and silver medal from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Suhr finished second with a height of 16-0 3/4 after failing to pass 16-2 3/4, but will still compete at worlds next week.
In sprint action, Marvin Bracy captured a third national title in the 60 meters with a photo finish, finishing in 6.502 seconds to beat out Trayvon Bromell by .005 second. The two will join wild card Mike Rodgers next week at worlds.
"It's definitely going to be a rivalry for years to come," said Bracy of his relationship with Bromell. "We're more like frien-emies. We're good friends, really good friends. He pushes me. I push him. I'm happy with all his success and likewise. We're just going to come out and push each other next week and for the rest of the year."
Former Oregon star Jenna Prandini finished fourth in the women's 60 meters with a season-best 7.18 seconds.
"I was pretty confident coming into this race," she said. "My goal was just to get some races in and get ready for outdoors. To run faster than I've all season, I'm happy with that."