The Oregon Project: how they rated on their first assignment of 2015

The Nike Oregon Project sent a battalion of their best athletes to the Armory Track Invitational in New York on Saturday and, with it being their first major assignment of 2015, we put their performances under the microscope and played some guesswork with what grade they will have got from coach, mentor and all-round athletic teacher Alberto Salazar.

Cam Levins: A+

It was the ultimate day for the Canadian, first taking a dominant victory in the men’s mile in 3:54.74, before coming back and duly crushing the field, which included his training partner Galen Rupp, in the two-mile just 30 minutes later, winning in 8:15.38. “I feel the strongest and the fittest I ever have,” said Levins afterwards, and it showed. “I thought in the two-mile I would get dropped by Galen, but I didn’t. I think I’m thriving under Alberto’s program, and it’s showing. Between races, I lay down and put my legs up, then jogged a couple of minutes, then did a couple of strides. Right now, the primary focus for the year will be the 10k, but who knows if that will change. This has to be one of my best days in running.”

Jordan Hasay: A

Mr. Salazar certainly could have no complaints with one of his most promising protégées, Jordan Hasay, who won the women’s two-mile in 9:38.28. Indeed, Hasay’s run was one executed with a precision of which Salazar would be immensely proud. The 23-year-old stayed out of trouble throughout, tracking the leaders, then swept to the front 300m out and cranked the pace up to a level that had her competitors toiling. “My plan was to wait until the last 400, as we were trying to practise closing. I tried to really execute good form the last 300, and I was really pleased with how I did that. I’ll be back here for Millrose in two weeks running the mile.”

Mary Cain: B

Finishing fifth in the women’s 800m, running 2:02.75, was certainly an improvement on recent weeks for Mary Cain, but it was a run that will no doubt have left plenty of room for more. Cain, a world junior champion last year over 3,000m, found the speed of the half-mile specialists too hot to handle, but as she said afterwards, she is relishing the chance to make the step back up in distance. “I can’t wait to get back in the 1500, where I know what the hell I’m doing,” she said. “Alberto said it was pretty good, but I’m disappointed with how it went,” she said. “My strongest discipline is the speed aspect of the 1500m, but the second I’m thrown in with the pure 800m runners, I struggle, and I need more race experience.”

Matt Centrowitz in action during the opening leg of the distance medley relay in the Armory. Image: PhotoRun

Matt Centrowitz in action during the opening leg of the distance medley relay in the Armory. Image: PhotoRun

Matt Centrowitz: A+

Running the opening 1200m leg for the American team, Centrowitz essentially ended the race as a contest with a solo run of 2:49.47, almost three seconds clear of his closest competitor. Centrowitz looked at his brilliant best as he reeled off six laps unaccompanied by any athletes and running with the clockwork fluidity that has become his trademark. If this was anything to go on, the 25-year-old could be set for a big year.

Galen Rupp: F

No getting away from it: this wasn’t good. The look on Alberto Salazar’s face as he watched his star protégé remove his spikes said it all afterwards; it was a look somewhere between confusion and concern. Rupp finished a fading fourth in the men’s two-mile in 8:17.24, beaten comfortably by his training partner Cam Levins. We asked Salazar afterwards if all was well with Rupp’s health and, half-shrugging off the question, Salazar said: “he’s just not ready, that’s all.” Indeed, that seemed in evidence an hour or so later, as Rupp completed a lengthy workout on the Armory track under Salazar’s watchful eye. Given that there was no apparent physical ailment present, though, will perhaps give Rupp and Salazar more cause for concern than if he was actually sick or injured. Either way, this was a race they will both be keen to forget in a hurry.

Treniere Moser: A-

It was hard to fault the run of Moser, who quite simple didn’t have the legs to match her more accomplished rival, Ajee Wilson, over the last-lap burn-up. The 33-year-old, though, showed that her winter training has obviously gone well when finishing second in the 800m in 2:01.79, and Moser showed enough closing speed to suggest she could be a real threat over 1500m later this season.

Suguru Osako: A

The promising Japanese athlete, who is still just 23 years old, took some big-time scalps at the weekend when finishing second to Cam Levins in the two-mile in 8:16.47. Osako lives in Portland and trains with the Oregon Project, although still retains some sponsorship from Japanese companies. He made quite the impression in the Armory on Saturday night, running a Japanese national record and finishing ahead of Ben Blankenship and Galen Rupp. Osako, who was a silver medallist over 10,000m at the Asian Games last year, and a former World University Games champion over the same distance, looks like he could be a name to watch come the World Championships in Beijing later this year.





Image courtesy of PhotoRun
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Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy is a freelance journalist, a once-serious, now-retired athlete who writes for a number of international publications in the running industry. He has won two sports-writing awards, the Peter Ball Memorial Award in Ireland and the Wills Writing Award in the UK. Nationally, he previously worked for the Sunday Tribune, Irish Runner magazine and has written for the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, the Guardian and The Independent in Britain. He is a regular contributor to Running Times, Runner's World, RunBlogRun and the IAAF website.
His banter levels are often poor, occasionally exceptional.

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