by John Dye
A year ago, after winning the NIC mile on a last stride lunge for the second straight year, Bobby Curtis said, "I'm going to do it again next year too." He was true to his word, but he didn't wait for the last stride this time. Instead, Curtis won this race with a stunning 100 meter surge on lap 7.
For six laps, Oregonians Mike McGrath and Joaquin Chapa, who had the top two times in the nation this season, teamed up and took turns setting the pace. Each time past the finish line, the leader would swing wide and let the other one through. The team tactics were designed by their coach, Alberto Salazar, former world marathon champion. "We didn't want to come all this way and see a first half in 2:15," McGrath said.
McGrath-Chapa led the field through a first half in 2:04. The next two laps slowed to 32.8-second pace. Meanwhile, Curtis languished in fifth place, with Virginian Alex Tatu and Coloradoan Steve Shepherd also in front of him.
In the middle of lap 7, Curtis turned on the jets. When the bell rang for the last lap, Curtis was in front. His time for lap 7 was 29.9 seconds. Curtis wrapped it up with a 27.8 last lap to make it 57.7 for the last 400 meters. McGrath tried to kick with Curtis on the last lap, but had to settle for second after running the last 400 in 60.2 himself. Chapa slipped to fifth behind Tatu and Shepherd.
Curtis had only one race, a 3000 meters on February 22, before NIC. How did he get ready for a top field without racing? "Marcus O'Sullivan (Bobby's future college coach at Villanova) gives me all my workouts," Curtis said. "I've been doing all distance running, no speed work yet."
It worked. Curtis held up three fingers as he crossed the finish line. And McGrath said, "Bobby ran a smart race."
At start of last lap, Curtis
was on top, with his tongue out Jordan style, posterizing the field.
Notes by Scott Dance
From the start of the race, it was clear that the Oregon tandem of Joaquin
by Pete Cava and Ricky Quintana
Villanova recruit Bobby Curtis made it three in a row at the Nike Indoor Championships, surging into the lead at the bell lap and finishing in 4:10.20.
Curtis, a senior at Louisville’s St. Xavier High School, won the mile here in Landover in 2001 and 2002. His three-peat is unprecedented in the NIC. And just as he did in his earlier triumphs, Curtis came from behind for the win.
Michael McGrath (Portland, OR) zoomed into the lead on the first lap.
He and Joaquin Chapa, another Portland resident from a rival school, stayed
in front through the most of the race, alternating the lead. McGrath and
Chapa, the son of former Oregon star Rudy Chapa, are coached by Olympic
veteran Alberto Salazar. Salazar, the legendary distance runner and the
last American to win the New York City Marathon, was the elder Chapa’s
teammate at Oregon.
Curtis finished in 4:10.20, with McGrath holding on for second in 4:10.70. Alex Tatu (Chester, VA), who followed Curtis’s surge, moved up for third place in 4:11.72 followed by Steve Shepherd (Eden, UT) in 4:14.01. Chapa held on for fifth in 4:17.97.
“I had heard that McGrath and Chapa were going to work together to break away from the field,” said Curtis. “If someone says they’re going to go out at 2:05 in this track, you can pretty much call their bluff.”
McGrath’s halfway time was around 2:03.2, but it didn’t look like he was bluffing. “It’s so tactical here every year, we wanted to make the race more honest,” McGrath said. “I didn’t see him (Curtis) coming. He got a jump. I’m disappointed that I lost.”
Curtis, meanwhile, said the race didn’t go exactly as he’d planned. “If you would have stopped me at four laps and asked me how I felt four laps in, I would’ve thought I wasn’t going to win,” he said.
C.F.P.I. Timing & Data Nike Indoor Championships 2003 - 3/15/2003 to 3/16/2003 Prince Georges Sports & Learning Complex Landover, Maryland Event 9 Boys 1 Mile Run ================================================================ National: N 3:59.86 1/20/2001 Alan Webb, South Lakes, Res Meet: M 4:07.87 3/2000 Alan Webb, South Lakes, Res Freshman: F 4:22.62 3/10/2002 Jeff See, Middletown, OH Sophomore: R 4:09.82 1997 Andy Powell, Oliver AmesN E Junior: J 4:07.34 1998 Andy Powell, Oliver AmesN E Senior: S 3:59.86 1/10/2001 Alan Webb, South Lakes, Res Name Year School Finals ================================================================ Section 1 1 Derrick Robbins 05 Newport News, VA 4:23.48 2 Michael Syrnick 04 Central-PA 4:23.97 3 Glenn Collins 03 North Canton, OH 4:24.02 4 Eduardo Pasko 03 Colorado Springs, C 4:25.69 5 Logan Sherman 04 Dallas, TX 4:26.54 6 Adam Breisch 03 Quakertown, PA 4:27.48 7 Charles Thomas 03 Linganore-MD 4:28.31 8 Eddie Loniewski 03 Blauvelt, NY 4:28.93 9 Daniel Kane 03 Louisa County-VA 4:29.11 10 Jonathon Thomas 03 Frankfort, KY 4:33.19 -- Gregory Preis 03 Chaminade-NY DNS -- Mark Alizzi 03 Syosset, NY DNS -- Peter Quinzio 03 Arlington, VA DNS Section 2 1 Bobby Curtis 03 Louisville, KY 4:10.20F 2 Michael McGrath 03 Portland, OR 4:10.70F 3 Alex Tatu 03 Cherster, VA 4:11.72F 4 Steve Shepherd 03 Eden, UT 4:14.01F 5 Joaquin Chapa 03 Portland, OR 4:17.97F 6 Jeremy Zagorski 04 Morris Plains, NJ 4:19.89F 7 Matt DeBole 03 W--S, NC 4:20.75F 8 Alex McClary 04 Shelton, WA 4:21.88F 9 Chris Platt 03 Haddonfield, NC 4:39.00 ================================================================ Name Year School Finals ================================================================ Finals 1 Bobby Curtis 03 Louisville, KY 4:10.20F 2 Michael McGrath 03 Portland, OR 4:10.70F 3 Alex Tatu 03 Cherster, VA 4:11.72F 4 Steve Shepherd 03 Eden, UT 4:14.01F 5 Joaquin Chapa 03 Portland, OR 4:17.97F 6 Jeremy Zagorski 04 Morris Plains, NJ 4:19.89F 7 Matt DeBole 03 W--S, NC 4:20.75F 8 Alex McClary 04 Shelton, WA 4:21.88F 9 Derrick Robbins 05 Newport News, VA 4:23.48 10 Michael Syrnick 04 Central-PA 4:23.97 11 Glenn Collins 03 North Canton, OH 4:24.02 12 Eduardo Pasko 03 Colorado Springs, C 4:25.69 13 Logan Sherman 04 Dallas, TX 4:26.54 14 Adam Breisch 03 Quakertown, PA 4:27.48 15 Charles Thomas 03 Linganore-MD 4:28.31 16 Eddie Loniewski 03 Blauvelt, NY 4:28.93 17 Daniel Kane 03 Louisa County-VA 4:29.11 18 Jonathon Thomas 03 Frankfort, KY 4:33.19 19 Chris Platt 03 Haddonfield, NC 4:39.00 -- Gregory Preis 03 Chaminade-NY DNS -- Mark Alizzi 03 Syosset, NY DNS -- Peter Quinzio 03 Arlington, VA DNS