EUGENE, Ore. – Cole Hocker extended his championship form on his home track at the newly-renovated Hayward Field on Sunday after the University of Oregon sophomore outlasted reigning Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz to win the men’s 1500m title in 3:35.28 on the last day at the 2021 U.S. Olympic trials.
Hocker, who entered the U.S. trials in great form, having won the NCAA Indoor Championships mile and the outdoor national 1500m titles, put on a show for the small, but expressive gathering at Hayward Field to punch his ticket to this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
The record-breaking high temperatures delayed the championships for about five hours, but it didn’t affect the 20-year-old who outsprinted Centrowitz in the closing meters after the pair entered the homestretch close together.
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Hocker, who covered the last 300m in 38.64 seconds, labeled the contest as “the most competitive race I’ve ever been in,” and he was delighted to have come out on top against his Oregon alum.
“Once I finally got to the line, I wanted to just enjoy every moment of it,” he said. “I was comfortable the entire race — just focused on positioning, and staying relaxed and calm. Because I knew if I was feeling good with 200 to go, I’d be able to find a gap and use the finishing speed I’ve been using all season.”
Centrowitz, who also expressed delight at racing against a fellow OU star, finished second with 3:35.34 in “one of the most exciting races I’ve been a part of.”
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“Cole had another gear I couldn’t respond to,” said Centrowitz who was timed at 39.05 seconds for his final 300m sprint. “But all in all I’m very happy with it.”
Yared Nuguse, the Notre Dame senior, NCAA record holder and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year, finished third with 3:36.19.
Craig Engels, the 2019 national champion was fourth in 3:36.69.